Obama visit to Canada will be short and focused on business
U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Canada on Feb. 19 will only last about six hours and will focus on discussions on the economy.
Sources told the Canadian Press on Thursday that Obama has insisted his first foreign trip as president be business-oriented and not include much pomp and ceremony.
The schedule, which has not yet been officially approved by the White House, has the president arriving in Ottawa at about 10 a.m. on Feb. 19 and departing by 4 p.m.
There will be no state dinner and Obama will not be making a public speech or addressing Parliament during the visit, said the sources, who are involved with organizing the trip.
Obama will be greeted at the airport by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean before heading to Parliament Hill for what is anticipated to be a one-hour meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The discussions between the two leaders are expected to focus on the economy and trade.
Obama will also have a brief meeting with Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff and will host a news conference in the afternoon.
He will then meet with U.S. Embassy staff at the airport before getting back on his plane and returning to Washington.
Obama does not feel he can justify being away from the United States and participating in lavish ceremonies when his country is in the midst of an economic recession, the sources said.
"It's a business visit," Ignatieff told CBC News. "The initiative for it to be a business visit was on the American side. I think the Canadian side accepts that."
Though the visit won't be a fancy affair, the sources said Obama's choosing Canada still represents the administration's recognition of the importance of the two countries' relationship.
With files from the Canadian Press