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Harper-Obama media conference

The media conference with Prime Minister Harper and President Obama has just finished.

Harper spoke of a “new initiative to further cross-border cooperation on environmental protection and energy security.”

A ‘US-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue’ will be launched with senior officials that will look at “clean energy science and technologies.”

Obama emphasized “the development and use of clean energy.” This includes “joint research and development of carbon reduction technologies and an electric grid.”

Answering questions from the media, Harper asserted that Canada would “seek opportunities to harmonize (climate policies) to meet our needs.”

He also asserted that US and Canadian emission targets “are more or less the same.”

Harper also spoke to the need to “improve the electricity grid in North America.”

Both leaders spoke to carbon capture and storage, though Obama spoke of it more in relation to “clean coal.”

Later in the media conference, Obama said that he expects “continued integration” of energy.

The Wall Street Journal asked about the “right time” to incorporate labour and environmental provisions into the body of NAFTA.

Obama replied “we have to be careful about signals of protectionism.” He also said if these “side agreements mean anything they should be incorporated into the body of the agreement so they can be enforced.”

Harper said that “trade agreements have been nothing but beneficial for both countries.”

He also said we can resolve problems “without opening NAFTA and unravelling” the whole deal.

He did acknowledge that ‘Buy American’ is allowed under trade agreements with limits.

Harper added “threats to the United States are threats to Canada.” He emphasized that “significant investments” have been made (by Canada) in security since 9-11.”

They also spoke about the war in Afghanistan and the global economic crisis.

Obama concluded that he looked forward to visiting Canada again “when it warms up.”

Analysis from the Council of Canadians will follow.