February 21, 2009

This past week we heard US President Barack Obama demand that labour and environmental side agreements be incorporated into the main text of NAFTA.

We are now hearing from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Trade Minister Stockwell Day that they are open to addressing President Obama's concerns, but seemingly with the assertion that NAFTA would not need to be renegotiated to accomplish this.

At the joint media conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "We're perfectly willing to look at ways we can address some of these concerns which I understand without opening the whole NAFTA and unravelling what is a very complex agreement..."

In an interview on Friday with the Canwest News Service and Global National, Trade Minister Stockwell Day said, "There was lots of speculation that President Mr. Obama wanted to do a wholesale renegotiation of NAFTA. We understand now that that's not on and we think there's ways of accommodating the environmental concerns and the labour concerns."

February 20, 2009

The UK Guardian reported yesterday that, “Potential strains in relations between the US and Canada were exposed today when Barack Obama, on his first foreign trip as president, hinted at renegotiation of the North American Free Trade agreement.”


The Guardian reported that, "Obama told reporters at the press conference in Ottawa he wanted to begin talks on adding provisions to the agreement relating to workers and to the environment. 'My hope is as our advisers and staffs and economic teams work this through that there's a way of doing this that is not disruptive to the extraordinarily important trade relationship that exists between the two countries,' he said."

February 19, 2009

Following today's media conference with President Obama and Prime Minister Harper, please note below a review of recent media coverage on the 'clean energy dialogue', the proposed 'clean energy agreement', and more on what a 'smart grid' might mean.


(Toronto Star, Feb. 19) “Canada and the United States have announced plans to work on clean energy technology following meetings between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper today. The agreement to begin a ‘clean-energy dialogue’ was officially announced by the two leaders at a press conference this afternoon."

February 19, 2009

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.

February 19, 2009

This past Tuesday, Council of Canadians Chairperson Maude Barlow joined Professor Michael Byers, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Executive Director Bruce Campbell, and Rideau Institute President Steven Staples for a media conference on Parliament Hill to speak about the visit of US President Barack Obama to Canada.

To see the A-Channel coverage of that media conference please go to