In a 10-minute interview broadcast on CBC-TV's The National this evening, President Barack Obama talked about NAFTA, the tar sands, Afghanistan, and Buy American.
"I think there are a lot of sensitivities right now because of the huge decline in world trade. As I've said before, NAFTA, the basic framework of the agreement, has environmental and labour protections as side agreements. My argument has always been that we might as well incorporate them into the full agreement so that they're fully enforceable."
"What we know is that oilsands creates a big carbon footprint. So the dilemma that Canada faces, the United States faces and China and the entire world faces, is how do we obtain the energy that we need to grow our economies in a way that is not rapidly accelerating climate change?"
"I think to the extent that Canada and the United States can collaborate on ways that we can sequester carbon, capture greenhouse gases before they're emitted into the atmosphere, that's going to be good for everybody."
"Ultimately, I think this can be solved by technology. I think that it is possible for us to create a set of clean energy mechanisms that allow us to use things not just like oilsands, but also coal."
"Very soon we will be releasing some initial plans in terms of how we are going to approach the military side of the equation in Afghanistan. But I am absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region solely through military means. We're going to have to use diplomacy, we're going to have to use development, and my hope is that in conversations that I have with Prime Minister Harper, that he and I end up seeing the importance of a comprehensive strategy, and one that ultimately the people of Canada can support, as well as the people of the United States can support."
"My administration is committed to making sure that even as we take steps to strengthen the U.S. economy, that we are doing so in a way that actually over time will enhance the ability of trading partners, like Canada, to work within our boundaries."
"My expectation is, is that where you have strong U.S. competitors who can sell products and services, that a lot of governors and mayors are going to want to try to find U.S. equipment or services, but that we are going to abide by our World Trade Organization and NAFTA obligations just as we always have."
The full transcript of the interview can be read at http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/02/17/obama-transcript.html