Ever since US Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins flubbed Canadian Geography 101 during a live CBC interview in 2005, relations between the two countries have been a little awkward.
But the lovefest for Obama in Ottawa today banished all memories of the Bush appointee's inability to remember the names of major Canadian cities from his extensive travels in the country. Supporting an election time poll which rated Obama more popular in Canada than in the US, the hardy were out in force to welcome Obama on his first foriegn trip. On the agenda for Obama and PM Harper were two items that have bedeviled Canadian-American policy in recent years: oil and NAFTA. There is a strong push from the environmental lobbies in both countries to find a more low-impact way to extract oil from Canada's tar sands and Harper is reportedly miffed at the Buy American clause buried in the stimulus bill. Obama for his part did not ask the PM to reconsider his decision to withdraw Canadian troops from operations in Afghanistan.