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Presidential Visits: Ottawa abuzz over Obama

He is the most important leader in the world. And even though the country may not always like what they hear, when the president of the United States comes to Ottawa, Canada listens. From Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, U.S. presidents have been given the honour of addressing Canada's Parliament. Sometimes their speeches draw warm ovations; others are met by catcalls and anger. But over time, each presidential message has been an important indicator of the goodwill — and the problems — facing these neighbours.

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On Jan. 21, 2009, Barack Obama was inaugurated as president of the United States, promising a time of "greater cooperation and understanding between nations." Today, nearly a month later, he begins with Canada, coming to Ottawa for the first official foreign visit of his presidency. The city is abuzz for the visit as crowds brave the icy weather for a glimpse of the charismatic leader. As planned, Obama meets with the prime minister, the Governor General and leader of the Opposition. But he also surprises and charms some Ottawa residents during a surprise stop for some local cuisine. In this report, CBC-TV's The National sums up the goings-on and the great excitement surrounding the presidential visit.
• A July 2008 poll conducted by The Strategic Counsel found that Barack Obama, who was still four month shy of his eventual election as president, was the favourite politician among Canadians, even more so than Prime Minister Stephen Harper or any other Canadian representative.

  • Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office twice after both he and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who administered the oath, said it incorrectly on inauguration day. Roberts made a minor mix-up in the order of the words and Obama repeated him verbatim. The oath was still considered binding, but was re-administered the next day out of "an abundance of caution," according to a White House spokesperson. Obama was the third president to re-do the oath; Chester A. Arthur and Calvin Coolidge both experienced similar mistakes.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 19, 2009
Guest(s): Stephen Harper, Barack Obama
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Keith Boag
Duration: 3:35

Last updated: November 8, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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