Saturday, 12 November 2011

Canada's Prime Minister Seeks One on One Bilateral Meeting with Obama

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada and staunch supporter of the XL Keystone Pipeline, is seeking a one on one meeting with US President Obama.  Canada was caught unaware of the decision by the Administration when it decided to do further studies on the project, voicing environmental and health concerns.

Both leaders are at an APEC summit.  Obama will also be visiting Australia and Indonesia on a nine day trip.

The President, who has been campaigning on his go nowhere "Jobs Act", has turned down 20,000 good paying jobs and an injection of $Billions into the economy.    The long awaited border deal, which would ease movements across the border is also outstanding.  Harper also wants to address the "Buy American" provision, which Obama supports.

The two leaders were to be attending a "Three Amigo" summit, which was abruptly cancelled due to the death of Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora in a helicopter crash on Friday.

The President, at the very least, owes Prime Minister Harper a meeting on these subjects and other North American issues.  Canadian Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty said yesterday that the delay of the pipeline could in fact cancel the deal.

The pipeline approval has been in a 19 months process, and both EPA and State Department Environmental Impact Studies have deducted that there would be limited environmental impact.  While the opposition wants a rerouting from the Nebraska Sand Hills, the timing has been questioned.  Nebraska with Kansas and other midwestern states are heavily subsidized for ethanol production and some feel that this is the real motivation.  Of course President Obama also worries about his left base, which he needs to turn out for the 2012 election.

He said Harper is pushing Obama for a bilateral meeting to discuss two key issues: the possible cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline; and the long-awaited border security deal.
"If he doesn't get (the meeting), journalists could interpret this as a snub of the prime minister," Fife said.
The U.S. president has meetings scheduled with the prime minister of Japan and the presidents of China and Russia.
A meeting with Obama would give Harper a boost in the face of what might otherwise be a lacklustre few days in Hawaii.CTV Edmonton
The bilateral meeting will coccur later today and PM Stephen Harper has reassured Canadians that the US anti-Canadian decisions are political posturing, a part of the political season.

Harper said that Canada has already voiced its disappointment with these decisions, but that he is confident that the projects will eventually go ahead, because they make imminent sense.  He said that the pipeline is not only in the best interest of Canada but also in the best interest of the United States.  He also said that this decision underscores the need to gain access to the Asian markets for Canada’s energy products.
 Harper has three issues that he wants to address with Obama,  The XL Keystone Pipeline Decision, The Perimeter Security Border Agreement and the “Buy America” measure, which has resurfaced in Obama’s Jobs Act.

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