President-in-Chief Obama is coming to my town, Ottawa, on his first foreign visit as the US President this Thursday, Feb 19, 2009. Canada is a safe place for any new US president for his first visit to get his feet wet (in February though, he will only find ice!). Since he is new to Canada, here is a primer on Canada for President Obama.
You will be received at the airport by a white portly man and an elegant looking black lady. No, they are not a couple. So don't greet her as "how do you do, Mrs. Harper?" She is Michaëlle Jean, our Governor General. You may want to practice pronouncing her name with those two funny dots in there. You and she have something in common. No, I am not referring to the colour of skin. Like you she is also Commander-in-Chief -- of Canadian military. Sorry to rain on your parade this way, however Canada had a C-in-C who is not only a black but also a woman long before they started asking the questions: is America ready for a black President? Is America ready for a woman as a President? She is of Haitian decent so you may want to impress her with a few words of their language. Just Google for that on your blackberry.
The white guy is our PM, Stephen Harper. Don't call him Stevie or even Steve. He does not like that. He likes to be called The Right Honourable Stephen Harper. Right, because he is the leader of the right-wing conservative party. To answer your Republican friends back home, you may find it useful to know that this conservative PM, who was also the head of a tax payers advocacy group not too long ago, after inheriting huge budget surpluses from the previous Liberal governments has now agreed to run $40 billion deficit.
When you hear about the meltdown in Ottawa, it does not mean the stock markets have crashed. It means the snow is melting due to unusually warm weather in the +2 to -5 degrees range. That's right, that is the definition of warm weather here.
Anyway, Welcome to Ottawa! Our hands might feel cold on handshake but our hearts are warm in welcoming you here!