Obama visiting Canada


in Canada, Economics, Ottawa, Politics, Science, The environment

President Barack Obama will be visiting Canada on February 19th. Presumably, that will include some sort of large public gathering, hopefully with an appearance from the man himself. In preparation, it seems fitting to contemplate what sort of message it would be most valuable to convey to the new president.

With that aim in mind, I propose that people submit their best ideas for a message that could be put on a placard for the media (and maybe even the President) to catch a glimpse of. Text versions and images would both be welcome. The former can be posted as simple comments. In the latter case, people can email images to me for possible posting. My immediate idea would be something along the lines of:

The oil sands are a trap!
Choose zero-carbon energy!

These days, it seems that the best hope for an aggressive shift towards decarbonizing the global economy comes from the possibility of new US leadership and the destruction of the reckless approach to energy the world is using at present. The challenge of expressing that general necessity in a compact statement is a considerable one.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan January 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I think the oil sands poster idea is a good one.

Maybe something about how acidic the results of Carbon Capture Storage are? Like “CCS – Potentially Catastrophic Long Term Acid Runoff”

Your sign is catchier.

Anon January 30, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Clean coal?
No such thing!

Anon January 30, 2009 at 7:29 pm

US conservatives out
Canada next!

Milan January 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm

Obama’s own words work pretty well:

“We will restore science to its rightful place… We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

Sarah January 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I’d go for “War on want, not war on drugs” but that’s just me.

Anon January 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

“Change not Cult of Personality”

R.K. January 31, 2009 at 5:52 pm

How about:

“Prosecute the torturers”

Random person January 31, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Obama, make us state #51!

oleh February 2, 2009 at 12:08 am

In a realization that Canada and the United States are extrinsically linked, I suggest

Share the load, Share the work, Share the hope

Anon February 5, 2009 at 9:12 am

“The tar sands are a sub-prime investment.”

. February 5, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Obama wants Canadian trip to be all business
Updated Thu. Feb. 5 2009 5:58 PM ET

The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama is insisting his Feb. 19 visit to Canada will be all business and short on pomp and circumstance because of the economic crisis consuming the United States.

They also say that’s the reason Obama won’t be making a speech or addressing Parliament.

. February 11, 2009 at 10:33 am

Ottawa counters ‘dirty oil’ campaign


From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

February 11, 2009 at 4:03 AM EST

OTTAWA — Environment Minister Jim Prentice hit back yesterday at an environmental campaign pressing Barack Obama to treat Alberta’s oil sands as the “world’s dirtiest oil,” arguing that Canada is only seeking the same treatment that the United States will have to apply to its own coal.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has called for a joint Canada-U.S. pact on greenhouse-gas emissions and energy security, in part to ensure that the oil sands are not hit by punishing U.S. regulations under Mr. Obama’s environment-conscious administration.

. February 12, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Sierra Club Canada presents / présente :
Tar Sands Film Festival / Festival du film sur les sables bitumineux

WHEN: Thursday, February 19, 2009 — 4 – 10pm
WHERE: Alumni Theatre, Jock Turcot University Centre,
85 University St., University of Ottawa
COST: Free admission / L´entrée est gratuite

During President Obama´s visit to Ottawa on February 19,
Sierra Club Canada is presenting the Tar Sands Film Festival
with films about the tar sands and the Mackenzie Gas Project.
Canada is trying to sell dirty tar sands oil as a solution to
U.S. energy needs — our message is “Don’t Buy It!”

Featuring the Ottawa premiere of “One River, Two Shores:
Reflections on the Mackenzie Gas Project,” with film producer
France Benoit from Yellowknife. There will be two screenings
of this film, in English and French.

Other films include “Tar Sands: The Selling of Canada,”
“Water is Life” and “The Dark Side of the Boom:
Canada´s Mordor.”

View the film festival schedule online for more details:

. February 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Barack Obama February 2009: Thursday’s visit has been described as a “half-day presidential pit stop.” It is still not known if Mr. Obama will visit Parliament Hill or perhaps drop by the home of the prime minister on Sussex Drive.

. February 16, 2009 at 9:10 am

A passage to Ottawa

From Monday’s Globe and Mail
February 15, 2009 at 10:48 PM EST

Throughout history, the visits of U.S. presidents to the nation’s capital have been the city’s most choreographed pieces of theatre. When Barack Obama drops in this Thursday, nothing will be left to chance – and the public has little chance of seeing him in the flesh.

. February 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

Security will be tight for Obama visit, expert says

Updated Tue. Feb. 17 2009 11:46 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Heavy security measures will create traffic delays and road closures for Ottawa residents Thursday when Barack Obama visits Canada for the first time as the U.S. president.

Ottawa Police Supt. Charles Bordeleau said Tuesday that officials are working to “help everyone understand and react to any threat” that could occur during the visit.

Obama will not deliver a speech in the House of Commons and there’s little chance the public will have an opportunity to see the president.

oleh February 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Milan writes in initial blog entry

“I propose that people submit their best ideas for a message that could be put on a placard for the media (and maybe even the President) to catch a glimpse of. Text versions and images would both be welcome”


Have you come to a concensus or a proposal of what slogan to pass to Obama given the nominations which you have or will this be the subject of a new blog entry on the eve of the visit?

Milan February 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm

There is certainly no consensus.

There is also no opportunity for members of the public to make any such statement in a way that will be immediately visible to the US president.

Personally, I would counsel him to view the oil sands as a desperate and damaging alternative to an energy policy trending towards sustainability.

. February 18, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Will Harper play Obama?
Canadian PM and business groups use Obama’s visit to shill for dirty tar sands oil
Posted by David Roberts at 6:33 PM on 17 Feb 2009

On Thursday, Barack Obama is heading up to Canada, where they’re getting nervous about growing protectionist and environmentalist sentiment in the U.S. Canadian PM Stephen Harper is widely expected to hype the special trade relationship between the two countries and push Obama for a climate partnership that spares tar sands oil — one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in North America — from any carbon restrictions. (Hey, if the U.S. is going easy on coal, why shouldn’t Canada go easy on tar sands?)

A tar-nished image?
Obama says tar-sands oil has ‘big carbon footprint,’ but doesn’t rule out its use
Posted by Kate Sheppard at 9:03 PM on 17 Feb 2009

President Barack Obama is heading up to Canada on Thursday to chat with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as David mentioned earlier. The two are slated to discuss, among other things, trade, climate change, and tar sands. Harper is expected to encourage Obama to support a partnership between the neighboring nations that protects Alberta’s tar sands from greenhouse-gas regulation.

Milan February 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Here is a protest action by Greenpeace similar to some of those proposed above:

Greenpeace welcomes President Obama

Ottawa, Canada — President Obama was extended a warm Canadian welcome this morning when Greenpeace activists unveiled two large banners on the Alexandra Bridge in Ottawa that read “Welcome President Obama” and “Climate Leaders Don’t Buy Tar Sands”.

Milan February 18, 2009 at 4:55 pm

They have have done this today, rather than tomorrow, because they anticipated the snowstorm now gripping Ottawa.

Alternatively, the choice may have been motivated by their thinking about the security that will surround Obama’s visit.

. February 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm
. February 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm

The greening of Canada?

Feb 23rd 2009
From Economist.com
Stephen Harper looks to Washington, not Alberta

DESPITE being two of the most profligate energy users on the planet, the United States and Canada have spent little time over the last eight years discussing what they might do together to combat climate change and protect the environment. That changed on February 19th, when President Barack Obama made his first post-inauguration trip abroad to meet Stephen Harper, Canada’s prime minister. The environment was one of just three topics on their official agenda.

Mr Obama seems the more committed environmentalist; clean energy and energy reduction figure prominently in his stimulus package. Mr Harper is a more recent convert to the green cause and it is not yet clear he has been fully won over. He is torn between his allegiance to his adopted province of Alberta, where Canada’s tar sands are located, and the need to align Canada’s policies with those of America, which buys most of Canada’s energy exports. As long as George Bush remained in office, Mr Harper did not have to choose between the two, but a new president with decidedly greener views will force his hand.

. March 2, 2009 at 10:38 am

Prentice hits Washington, with cap (and trade) in hand

From Monday’s Globe and Mail
March 2, 2009 at 4:07 AM EST

In meetings with top administration officials, Mr. Prentice will push Canada’s proposal for a continental system of emission caps and market-based permit trading that would align Canada’s regulatory system with that of our largest trading partner.

But Mr. Obama’s budget, released last week, makes it clear he is planning far more sweeping emissions rules than Ottawa’s plan to impose regulations on the largest industrial emitters. And the President gave no indication during his trip to Canada that he was enthusiastic about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s idea for a bilateral agreement on climate change.

. April 15, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Canada Reconsiders Offer for Continental Climate Deal
By EVAN LEHMANN, ClimateWire

Canada blushed with enthusiasm when it proposed a sweeping climate marriage with the United States on President Obama’s inauguration day. But now the northern nation plans to develop its own cap-and-trade program, leading some to question whether the request was premature.

One consultant with firsthand knowledge of the project said Ottawa officials “miscued” when they pitched a continental plan to target emissions. Other observers say Canada could gain politically from its early proposal but that otherwise, the publicized plan has floundered.

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