Full Text Political Transcripts February 13, 2017: President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada in Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 2-13-17

East Room

2:16 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Prime Minister Trudeau, on behalf of all Americans, I thank you for being with us today.  It is my honor to host such a great friend, neighbor, and ally at the White House, a very special place.  This year, Canada celebrates the 150th year of Confederation.  For Americans, this is one of the many milestones in our friendship, and we look forward — very much forward, I must say — to many more to come.

Our two nations share much more than a border.  We share the same values.  We share the love, and a truly great love, of freedom.  And we share a collective defense.  American and Canadian troops have gone to battle together, fought wars together, and forged the special bonds that come when two nations have shed their blood together — which we have.

In these dangerous times, it is more important than ever that we continue to strengthen our vital alliance.  The United States is deeply grateful for Canada’s contribution to the counter-ISIS effort.  Thank you.  And we continue to work in common, and in common cause, against terrorism, and work in common cooperation toward reciprocal trade and shared growth.

We understand that both of our countries are stronger when we join forces in matters of international commerce.  Having more jobs and trade right here in North America is better for both the United States and is also much better for Canada.  We should coordinate closely — and we will coordinate closely — to protect jobs in our hemisphere and keep wealth on our continent, and to keep everyone safe.

Prime Minister, I pledge to work with you in pursuit of our many shared interests.  This includes a stronger trading relationship between the United States and Canada.  It includes safe, efficient, and responsible cross-border travel and migration.  And it includes close partnership on domestic and international security.

America is deeply fortunate to have a neighbor like Canada.  We have before us the opportunity to build even more bridges, and bridges of cooperation and bridges of commerce.  Both of us are committed to bringing greater prosperity and opportunity to our people.

We just had a very productive meeting with women business leaders from the United States and Canada, where we discussed how to secure everything that we know the full power of women can do better than anybody else.  We know that.  I just want to say, Mr. Prime Minister, that I’m focused and you’re focused on the important role women play in our economies.  We must work to address the barriers faced by women and women entrepreneurs, including access to capital, access to markets, and, very importantly, access to networks.

In our discussion today we will focus on improving the ways our government and our governments together can benefit citizens of both the United States and Canada, and, in so doing, advance the greater peace and stability of the world.

Mr. Prime Minister, I look forward to working closely with you to build upon our very historic friendship.  There are incredible possibilities for us to pursue, Canada and the United States together.

Again, thank you for joining us, and I know our discussions will be very, very productive for the future of both countries.

Mr. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you very much for joining us.

I’d first like to start by extending my sincere thanks to President Trump for inviting me down to Washington.  Any day I get to visit our southern neighbors is a good day in my book, particularly when it’s so nice and warm compared to what it is back home.  We are suffering under a significant winter storm that’s hitting our Atlantic provinces particularly harsh, so I just want to send everyone back at home my thoughts as they shovel out, and impress on everyone to stay safe.

(As interpreted from French.)  The President and myself have had a very productive first meeting today.  We had the opportunity to get to know one another better, and, more importantly, we had the opportunity to talk about the unique relationship between Canada and the United States.

(In English.)  Ends on both sides of the 49th parallel have understood that the bond between our nations is a special one.  No other neighbors in the entire world are as fundamentally linked as we are.  We’ve fought in conflict zones together, negotiated environmental treaties together, including 1991’s historic Air Quality Agreement.  And we’ve entered into groundbreaking economic partnerships that have created good jobs for both of our peoples.

Canadians and Americans alike share a common history as well as people-to-people ties that make us completely and totally integrated.  Our workers are connected by trade, transportation and cross-border commerce.  Our communities rely on each other for security, stability and economic prosperity.  Our families have long lived together and worked together.  We know that, more often than not, our victories are shared.  And just as we celebrate together, so too do we suffer loss and heartbreak together.

Through it all, the foundational pillar upon which our relationship is built is one of mutual respect.  And that’s a good thing, because as we know, relationships between neighbors are pretty complex and we won’t always agree on everything.  But because of our deep, abiding respect for one another, we’re able to successfully navigate those complexities and still remain the closest of allies and friends.  Make no mistake — at the end of the day, Canada and the U.S. will always remain each other’s most essential partner.

And today’s conversations have served to reinforce how important that is for both Canadians and Americans.  As we know, 35 U.S. states list Canada as their largest export market, and our economies benefit from the over $2 billion in two-way trade that takes place every single day.  Millions of good, middle-class jobs on both sides of the border depend on this crucial partnership.  Maintaining strong economic ties is vital to our mutual success, and we’re going to continue to work closely together over the coming years so that Canadian and American families can get ahead.

(As interpreted from French.)  As we know, 35 U.S. states list Canada as their largest export market and our economies benefit from the over $2 billion in two-way trade that takes place every single day.  Millions of good, middle-class jobs on both sides of the border depend on this crucial partnership.  Maintaining strong economic ties is vital to our mutual success, and we’re going to continue to work closely together over the coming years so that Canadian and American families can get ahead.

(In English.)  I’d like to highlight just a few of the specifics that President Trump and I discussed today.  At the end of the day, the President and I share a common goal.  We both want to make sure that hardworking folks can go to work at a good job, put food on the table for their families, and save up to take a vacation every once in a while.  That’s what we’re trying to do here.

Today, we reiterated that our nations are committed to collaborating on energy infrastructure projects that will create jobs while respecting the environment.  And, as we know, investing in infrastructure is a great way to create the kind of economic growth that our countries so desperately need.

In that same vein, we know that ensuring equal opportunities for women in the workforce is essential for growing the economy and maintaining American and Canadian competitiveness on the world stage.  As such, the President and I have agreed to the creation of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.  This initiative is more than just about dollars and cents.  This is about ensuring that women have access to the same opportunities as men, and prioritizing the support and empowerment of women who are senior business leaders and entrepreneurs.  In doing so, we’ll grow the Canadian and American economies, and help our businesses prosper.

(As interpreted from French.)  Finally, President Trump and myself have agreed to work together to fight against the traffic of opioids across our border.  The rise of illegal use of opioids in our society is nothing less than a tragedy.  We will do everything we can to ensure the safety of Canadians and Americans.

Ladies and gentlemen, President Trump:  I know that if our countries continue to work together, our people will greatly benefit from this cooperation.

(In English.)  History has demonstrated time and again that in order to tackle our most pressing issues, both foreign and domestic, we must work with our closest allies, learn from each other, and stand in solidarity as a united voice.

With a level of economic and social integration that is unmatched on the world stage, Canada and the United States will forever be a model example of how to be good neighbors.  Winston Churchill once said, “That long Canadian frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations, is an example to every country, and a pattern for the future of the world.”  That, my friends, is the very essence of the Canada-U.S. relationship.

I look forward to working with President Trump over the coming years to nurture and build upon this historic partnership.  Once again, it’s a tremendous pleasure to be here in Washington.  Merci beaucoup.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Okay, we’ll take a couple of questions.  Scott Thuman.  Scott.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You just spoke about the desire to build bridges, although there are some notable and philosophical differences between yourself and Prime Minister Trudeau.  I’m curious, as you move forward on issues from trade to terrorism, how do you see this relationship playing out?  And are there any specific areas with which during your conversations today you each decided to perhaps alter or amend your stances already on those sensitive issues like terrorism and immigration?

And, Prime Minister Trudeau, while only in its infancy so far, how do you see this relationship compared to that under the Obama administration?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we just began discussions.  We are going to have a great relationship with Canada, maybe as good or better, hopefully, than ever before.  We have some wonderful ideas on immigration.  We have some, I think, very strong, very tough ideas on the tremendous problem that we have with terrorism.  And I think when we put them all together, which will be very, very quickly — we have a group of very talented people — we will see some very, very obvious results.  We’re also doing some cross-border things that will make it a lot easier for trade and a lot better and a lot faster for trade.

We have — through technology, we have some really great ideas, and they’ll be implemented fairly quickly.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  One of the things we spoke about was the fact that security and immigration need to work very well together.  And certainly Canada has emphasized security as we look towards improving our immigration system and remaining true to the values that we have.  And we had a very strong and fruitful discussion on exactly that.

There’s plenty that we can draw on each other from in terms of how we move forward with a very similar goal, which is to create free, open societies that keep our citizens safe.  And that’s certainly something that we’re very much in agreement on.

Tonda MacCharles.

Q    Good afternoon, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister.  And, Mr. Prime Minister, could you answer in English and French for us, please?

A little bit of a follow-on on my American colleague’s question.  President Trump, you seem to suggest that Syrian refugees are a Trojan horse for potential terrorism, while the Prime Minister hugs refugees and welcomes them with open arms.  So I’d like to know, are you confident the northern border is secure?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You can never be totally confident.  But through the incredible efforts — already I see it happening — of formerly General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, we have really done a great job.  We’re actually taking people that are criminals — very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems — and we’re getting them out.  And that’s what I said I would do.  I’m just doing what I said I would do when we won by a very, very large Electoral College vote.

And I knew that was going to happen.  I knew this is what people were wanting.  And that wasn’t the only reason, that wasn’t my only thing that we did so well on.  But that was something was very important.  And I said we will get the criminals out, the drug lords, the gang members.  We’re getting them out.

General Kelly, who is sitting right here, is doing a fantastic job.  And I said at the beginning we are going to get the bad ones — the really bad ones, we’re getting them out.  And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

I think that in the end everyone is going to be extremely happy.  And I will tell you right now, a lot of people are very, very happy right now.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Canada has always understood that keeping Canadians safe is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any government.  And that’s certainly something that we’re very much focused on.

At the same time, we continue to pursue our policies of openness towards immigration, refugees, without compromising security.  And part of the reason we have been successful in doing that over the past year — welcoming close to 40,000 Syrian refugees — is because we have been coordinating with our allies, the United States and around the world, to demonstrate that security comes very seriously to us.  And that’s something that we continue to deal with.

(As interpreted from French.)  It is clear that if you want to have a healthy and secure society or safe society, you have to make sure that you maintain — that you focus on security.  And we have welcomed refugees from Syria.  We have been very successful, but we have always taken our responsibility toward security very seriously.  And our allies, including the United States, understand this focus very well.  And they have done so since the very beginning.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:   Caitlin Collins (ph), please.

Q    Thank you.  President Trump, now that you’ve been in office and received intelligence briefings for nearly one month, what do you see as the most important national security matters facing us?

And, Prime Minister Trudeau, you’ve made very clear that Canada has an open-door policy for Syrian refugees.  Do you believe that President Trump’s moratorium on immigration has merit on national security grounds?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Okay.  Thank you.  Many, many problems.  When I was campaigning, I said it’s not a good situation.  Now that I see it — including with our intelligence briefings — we have problems that a lot of people have no idea how bad they are, how serious they are, not only internationally, but when you come right here.

Obviously, North Korea is a big, big problem, and we will deal with that very strongly.  We have problems all over the Middle East.  We have problems just about every corner of the globe, no matter where you look.  I had a great meeting this weekend with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and got to know each other very, very well — extended weekend, really.  We were with each other for long periods of time, and our staffs and representatives.

But on the home front, we have to create borders.  We have to let people that can love our country in, and I want to do that.  We want to have a big, beautiful, open door, and we want people to come in and come in our country.  But we cannot let the wrong people in, and I will not allow that to happen during this administration.  And people — citizens of our country want that, and that’s their attitude, too.

I will tell you, we are getting such praise for our stance, and it’s a stance of common sense — maybe a certain toughness, but it’s really more than toughness, it’s a stance of common sense — and we are going to pursue it vigorously.  And we don’t want to have our country have the kinds of problems that you’re witnessing taking place not only here but all over the world.  We won’t stand for it.  We won’t put up with it.  We’re just not going to let it happen.  We’re going to give ourselves every bit of chance so that things go well for the United States.  And they will go well.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Canada and the United States have been neighbors a long time, and Canadians and Americans have stood together, worked together at home and around the world.  We’ve fought and died together in battlefields in World War I and World War II, in Korea, in Afghanistan.  But there have been times where we have differed in our approaches, and that’s always been done firmly and respectfully.

The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves.  My role and our responsibility is to continue to govern in such a way that reflects Canadians’ approach and be a positive example in the world.

Richard Latendresse.

Q    Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.  I’ll ask my question in French first and then, for you, I’ll — again in English.

(As interpreted from French.)  Mr. Prime Minister, if I heard you correctly, you said that Canadian businesses, Canadian workers are concerned for their businesses and for their work and jobs concerning the renegotiation of NAFTA.  So what guarantees did you get from this government that we will keep our jobs and our businesses in the renegotiation of NAFTA?

(In English.)  Mr. President, again, during the last three months, you have denounced NAFTA.  You have talked over and over about the Mexican portion of the agreement, very little about the Canadian one.  My question is in two short part is, is Canada a fair trader?  And when you talk about changes to NAFTA concerning Canada, are you talking about big changes or small changes?  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  (As interpreted.)  First of all, Richard, thank you for your question.  It is a real concern for many Canadians because we know that our economy is very dependent on our bonds, our relationship with the United States.  Goods and services do cross the border each way every single day, and this means a lot of millions of jobs for Canadians, and good jobs for Canadians.  So we are always focusing on these jobs, but there are also good jobs, millions of jobs, in the United States that depend on those relationships between our two countries.

So when we sit down as we did today, and as our teams will be doing in the weeks and months to come, we will be talking about how we can continue to create good jobs for our citizens on both sides of the border.  And during this exercise, we continue to understand that we have to allow this free flow of goods and services, and we have to be aware of the integration of our economies, which is extremely positive for both our countries.  And this is the focus that we will have in the coming weeks and months to come.

(In English.)  Canadians are rightly aware of the fact that much of our economy depends on good working relationships with the United States, a good integration with the American economy.  And the fact is, millions of good jobs on both sides of the border depend on the smooth and easy flow of goods and services and people back and forth across our border.

And both President Trump and I got elected on commitments to support the middle class, to work hard for people who need a real shot at success.  And we know that by working together, by ensuring the continued effective integration of our two economies, we are going to be creating greater opportunities for middle-class Canadians and Americans now and well into the future.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I agree with that 100 percent.  We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada.  We’ll be tweaking it.  We’ll be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries.  It’s a much less severe situation than what’s taking place on the southern border.  On the southern border, for many, many years, the transaction was not fair to the United States.  It was an extremely unfair transaction.  We’re going to work with Mexico, we’re going to make it a fair deal for both parties.  I think that we’re going to get along very well with Mexico; they understand and we understand.

You probably have noticed that Ford is making billions of dollars of new investments in this country.  You saw Intel the other day announce that because of what I’ve been doing and what I’m doing in terms of regulation — lowering taxes, et cetera — they’re coming in with billions and billions of dollars of investment, and thousands of thousands of jobs.  General Motors, likewise, is expanding plants and going to build new plants.  Fiat Chrysler was at a meeting where they’re doing the same.  Jack Ma — we have so many people that want to come into the United States.  It’s actually very exciting.

I think it’s going to be a very exciting period of time for the United States and for the workers of the United States, because they have been truly the forgotten man and forgotten women.  It’s not going to be forgotten anymore, believe me.

So our relationship with Canada is outstanding, and we’re going to work together to make it even better.  And as far as the southern border is concerned, we’re going to get that worked out.  We’re going to make it fair, but we are going to make it so that everybody is happy.  It’s very important to me.

Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:42 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts June 29, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Address to the Parliament of Canada

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the Parliament of Canada

Source: WH, 6-29-16

House of Commons Chamber
Parliament of Canada
Ottawa, Canada

6:03 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Please, everyone have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you so much.

Good evening.  Bonjour.  Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker,  members of the House, members of the Senate, distinguished guests, people of Canada — thank you for this extraordinary welcome, which temps me to just shut up and leave.  (Laughter.)  Because it can’t get any better than this.  (Laughter.)  Obviously I’m grateful for the warm welcome.  I’m extraordinarily grateful for the close working relationship and friendship with your outstanding Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his extraordinary wife, Sophie.

But I think it’s fair to say that much of this greeting is simply a reflection of the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between Canadians and Americans.

Justin, thank you for your very kind words, and for the new energy and hope that your leadership has brought to your nation as well as to the alliance.  My time in office may be nearing an end, but I know that Canada — and the world — will benefit from your leadership for years to come.  (Applause.)

So Canada was the very first country that I visited as President.  It was in February.  (Laughter.)  It was colder.  (Laughter.)  I was younger.  (Laughter.)  Michelle now refers to my hair as the Great White North.  (Laughter.)  And on that visit, I strolled around the ByWard Market, tried a “beaver tail” — (laughter) — which is better than it sounds.  (Laughter.)  And I was struck then, as I am again today, by the warmth of the Canadians.  I could not be more honored to be joining you in this historic hall — this cathedral of freedom.  And we Americans can never say it enough — we could not ask for a better friend or ally than Canada.  (Applause.)  We could not.  It’s true.  It is true.  And we do not take it for granted.

That does not mean we don’t have our differences.  As I understand it, one of the reasons the Queen chose this site for Parliament was that it was a safe distance from America’s border. (Laughter.)   And I admit, in the War of 1812, American troops did some damage to Toronto.  I suspect that there were some people up here who didn’t mind when the British returned the favor and burned down the White House.  (Laughter.)

In more recent times, however, the only forces crossing our borders are the armies of tourists and businesspeople and families who are shopping and doing business and visiting loved ones.  Our only battles take place inside the hockey rink.  Even there, there’s an uneasy peace that is maintained.  As Americans, we, too, celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the late, great Gordie Howe.  (Applause.)  Just as Canadians can salute American teams for winning more Stanley Cups in the NHL.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I told you I should have stopped after the applause.  (Laughter.)

But in a world where too many borders are a source of conflict, our two countries are joined by the longest border of peace on Earth.  (Applause.)  And what makes our relationship so unique is not just proximity.  It’s our enduring commitment to a set of values — a spirit, alluded to by Justin, that says no matter who we are, where we come from, what our last names are, what faith we practice, here we can make of our lives what we will.

It was the grit of pioneers and prospectors who pushed West across a forbidding frontier.  The dreams of generations — immigrants, refugees — that we’ve welcomed to these shores.  The hope of run-away slaves who went north on an underground railroad.  “Deep in our history of struggle,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Canada was the north star… The freedom road links us together.”

We’re bound as well by the service of those who’ve defended us — at Flanders Field, the beaches of Normandy, in the skies of the Balkans, and more recently, in the mountains of Afghanistan, and training bases in Iraq.  Their sacrifice is reflected in the silent rows of Arlington and in the Peace Tower above us.  Today we honor those who gave their lives for all of us.  (Applause.)
We’re linked together, as well, by the institutions that we’ve built to keep the peace:  A United Nations to advance our collective aspirations.  A NATO alliance to ensure our security. NORAD, where Americans and Canadians stand watch side by side — and track Santa on Christmas Eve.  (Laughter.)

We’re linked by a vast web of commerce that carries goods from one end of this continent to another.  And we’re linked by the ties of friendship and family — in my case, an outstanding brother-in-law in Burlington.  (Applause.)  Had to give Burlington a shout out.  (Applause.)  Our relationship is so remarkable precisely because it seems so unremarkable — which is why Americans often are surprised when our favorite American actor or singer turns out to be Canadian!  (Applause.)  The point is we see ourselves in each other, and our lives are richer for it.

As President, I’ve deepened the ties between our countries. And because of the progress we’ve made in recent years, I can stand before you and say that the enduring partnership between Canada and the United States is as strong as it has ever been, and we are more closely aligned than ever before.  (Applause.)

And yet, we meet at a pivotal moment for our nations and for the globe.  From this vibrant capital, we can look upon a world that has benefited enormously from the international order that we helped to build together’ but we can see that same order increasingly strained by the accelerating forces of change.  The world is by most every measure less violent than ever before; but it remains riven by old divisions and fresh hatreds.  The world is more connected than ever before; but even as it spreads knowledge and the possibility of greater understanding between peoples, it also empowers terrorists who spread hatred and death — most recently in Orlando and Istanbul.

The world is more prosperous than ever before, but alongside globalization and technological wonders we also see a rise in inequality and wage stagnation across the advanced economies, leaving too many workers and communities fearful of diminishing prospects, not just for themselves, but more importantly, for their children.

And in the face of such rising uncertainty, it is not enough to look at aggregate growth rates, or stock prices, or the pace of digital innovation.  If the benefits of globalization accrue only to those at the very top, if our democracies seem incapable of assuring broad-based growth and opportunity for everyone, then people will push back, out of anger or out of fear.  And politicians — some sincere, and some entirely cynical — will tap that anger and fear, harkening back to bygone days of order and predictability and national glory, arguing that we must rebuild walls and disengage from a chaotic world, or rid ourselves of the supposed ills brought on by immigrants — all in order to regain control of our lives.

We saw some of these currents at work this past week in the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union.  Despite some of the initial reactions, I am confident that the process can be managed in a prudent, orderly way.  I expect that our friends on both sides of the Channel will develop a workable plan for how to move forward.  And I’m equally confident that the Transatlantic values that we all share as liberal, market-based democracies are deeper and stronger than any single event.

But while the circumstances of Brexit may be unique to the United Kingdom, the frustrations people felt are not.  The short-term fallout of Brexit can be sensibly managed, but the long-term trends of inequality and dislocation and the resulting social division — those can’t be ignored.  How we respond to the forces of globalization and technological change will determine the durability of an international order that ensures security and prosperity for future generations.

And fortunately, the partnership between the United States and Canada shows the path we need to travel.  For our history and our work together speak to a common set of values to build on –proven values, values that your Prime Minister spoke of in his introduction — values of pluralism and tolerance, rule of law, openness; global engagement and commerce and cooperation, coupled with equal opportunity and an investment in our people at home.  As Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said, “A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs build the pyramids, and then leave standing there to defy eternity.  A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values.”  What is true of countries is true of the world. And that’s what I want to talk about today — how to strengthen our institutions to advance these commitments in a rapidly changing world.

Let me start with our shared economic vision.  In all we do, our commitment to opportunity for all of our people has to be at the centerpiece of our work.  We are so fortunate because both of our countries are so well-positioned to succeed in the 21st century.  Our two nations know firsthand the awesome power of free markets and innovation.  Canadians help run some of Silicon Valley’s most innovative companies.  Our students study at each other’s world-class universities.  We invest in research and development, and make decisions based on science and evidence.  And it works.  It’s what’s created these extraordinary economies of ours.

But if the financial crisis and recent recession taught us anything, it’s that economies do better when everyone has a chance to succeed.  For a long time, it was thought that countries had to choose between economic growth or economic inclusion.  But it turns out that’s a false choice.  If a CEO makes more in a day than a typical employee makes in a year, that kind of inequality is not just bad for morale in the company, it turns out it’s bad for the economy — that worker is not a very good customer for business.  (Applause.)

If a young man in Ohio can’t pay his student loans, or a young woman in Ontario can’t pay her bills, that has ramifications for our economy.  It tamps down the possibilities of growth.  So we need growth that is broad and that lifts everybody up — including tax policies that do right by working families, and robust safety nets for those who fall on hard times.  As John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “the common denominator of progress” is our people.  It’s not numbers, it’s not abstractions, it’s how are our people doing.

Of course, many who share this progressive, inclusive vision can be heard now arguing that investments in our people, protection for our workers, fair tax policies, these things are not enough.  For them, globalization is inherently rigged towards the top one percent, and therefore, what’s needed is an end to trade agreements and various international institutions and arrangements that integrate national economies.

And I understand that vision.  I know why it’s tempting.  It seems as if we draw a line around our borders that it will give us more control, particularly when the benefits of trade and economic integration are sometimes hard to see or easy to take for granted, and very specific dislocations are obvious and real.

There’s just one problem:  Restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this 21st century economy will not work.  (Applause.)  It will not work.  Even if we wanted to, we can’t seal ourselves off from the rest of the world.  The day after Brexit, people looked around and said, oh!  (Laughter.)  How is this going to work?  The drag that economic weakness in Europe and China and other countries is having on our own economies right now speaks to the degree to which we depend — our economies depend, our jobs, our businesses depend — on selling goods and services around the world.

Very few of our domestic industries can sever what is now truly a global supply chain.  And so, for those of us who truly believe that our economies have to work for everybody, the answer is not to try and pull back from our interconnected world; it is rather to engage with the rest of the world, to shape the rules so they’re good for our workers and good for our businesses.

And the experience between our two nations points the way.  The United States and Canada have the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world — and we are stronger for it.  (Applause.)  It means a company in Quebec can create jobs in North Carolina.  And a start-up in Toronto can attract investment from Texas.  Now, the problem is that some economies in many of the fastest-growing regions of the world — particularly the Asia Pacific region — don’t always abide by the same rules.  They impose unfair tariffs; or they suppress workers’ rights; or they maintain low environmental standards that make it hard for our businesses to compete fairly.

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we have the ability to not only open up these markets to U.S. and Canadian products and eliminate thousands of these unfair tariffs — which, by the way, we need to do because they’re already selling here under existing rules, but we’re not selling as much as we should over there — but it also affords us the opportunity to increase protections for workers and the environment, and promote human rights, including strong prohibitions against human trafficking and child labor.  And that way our workers are competing on a level playing field, and our businesses are less prone to pursue a race to the bottom.  And when combined with increased investments in our own people’s education, and skills and training, and infrastructure and research and development and connectivity, then we can spur the kind of sustained growth that makes all of us better off.  (Applause.)  All of us.

The point is we need to look forward, not look backward.  And more trade and more people-to-people ties can also help break down old divides.  I thank Canada for its indispensable role in hosting our negotiations with the Cuban government, and supporting our efforts to set aside half a century of failed policies to begin a new chapter with the Cuban people.  (Applause.)  I know a lot of Canadians like going to Cuba — (laughter) — maybe because there haven’t been Americans crowding the streets and the beaches.  But that’s changing.  (Laughter.)  And as more Americans engage with the Cuban people, it will mean more economic opportunity and more hope for ordinary Cubans.

We also agree, us Americans and Canadians, that wealthy countries like ours cannot reach our full potential while others remain mired in poverty.  That, too, is not going to change in this interconnected world; that if there is poverty and disease and conflict in other parts of the world, it spills over, as much as we’d like to pretend that we can block it out.

So, with our commitment to new Sustainable Development Goals, we have the chance to end the outrage of extreme poverty. (Applause.)  We can bring more electricity to Africa, so that students can study at night and businesses can stay open.  We can banish the scourge of malaria and Zika.  We can realize our goal of the first AIDS-free generation.  (Applause.)  We can do that. It’s within our grasp.  And we can help those who are working to replace corruption with transparent, accountable institutions that serve their people.

As leaders in global development, the United States and Canada understand that development is not charity — it’s an investment in our future prosperity.  (Applause.)  Because not only do such investments and policies help poor countries, they’re going to create billions of customers for U.S. and Canadian products, and they’ll make less likely the spread of deadly epidemics to our shores, and they’ll stabilize parts of the word that threaten the security of our people.

In fact, both the United States and Canada believe our own security — and not just prosperity — is enhanced when we stand up for the rights of all nations and peoples to live in security and peace.  (Applause.)  and even as there are times when unilateral action is necessary to defend our people, we believe that in a world where wars between great powers are far less likely but transnational threats like terrorism know no boundaries, our security is best advanced when nations work together.  We believe that disputes that do arise between nations should be, wherever possible, resolved peacefully, with diplomacy; that international organizations should be supported; that multilateralism is not a dirty word.  (Applause.)

And certainly, we’re more secure when we stand united against terrorist networks and ideologies that have reached to the very doorstep of this hall.  We honor all those taken from us by violent extremists, including Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall.  (Applause.)  With Canada’s additional contributions, including training Iraqi forces, our coalition is on the offensive across Iraq, across Syria.  And we will destroy the terrorist group ISIL.  (Applause.)  We will destroy them.

We’ll continue helping local forces and sharing intelligence, from Afghanistan to the Philippines, so that we’re pushing back comprehensively against terrorist networks.  And in contrast to the hatred and the nihilism of terrorists, we’ll work with partners around the world, including, particularly, Muslim communities, to offer a better vision and a path of development, and opportunity, and tolerance.  (Applause.)  Because they are, and must be, our partners in this effort.  (Applause.)

Meanwhile, when nations violate international rules and norms — such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine — the United States and Canada stand united, along with our allies, in defense of our collective security.  (Applause.)  Doing so requires a range of tools, like economic sanctions, but it also requires that we keep our forces ready for 21st century missions, and invest in new capabilities.  As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we’ll be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security.  (Applause.)  Because the Canadian armed forces are really good — (applause) — and if I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada.  NATO needs more Canada.  (Applause.)  We need you.  We need you.

Just as we join together in our common defense, so must we work together diplomatically, particularly to avert war.  Diplomacy results are rarely quick, but it turns out even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved.  Here in our own hemisphere, just in the last few weeks, after half a century of war, Colombia is poised to achieve an historic peace.  (Applause.)  And the nations of North America will be an important partner to Colombia going forward, including working to remove landmines.

Around the world, Canadian and American diplomats working together can make a difference.  Even in Syria, where the agony and the suffering of the Syrian people tears at our hearts, our two nations continue to be leaders in humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.  And although a true resolution of this conflict so far has eluded us, we know that the only solution to this civil war is a political solution, so that the Syrian people can reclaim their country and live in peace.  And Canadians and Americans are going to work as hard as we can to make that happen.  (Applause.)  I should add that here in the nation of Lester Pearson, we reaffirm our commitment to keep strengthening the peacekeeping that saves lives around the world.

There is one threat, however, that we cannot solve militarily, nor can we solve alone — and that is the threat of climate change.  Now, climate change is no longer an abstraction. It’s not an issue we can put off for the future.  It is happening now.  It is happening here, in our own countries.  The United States and Canada are both Arctic nations, and last year, when I became the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I could see the effects myself.  Glaciers — like Canada’s Athabasca Glacier — are melting at alarming rates.  Tundra is burning.  Permafrost is thawing.  This is not a conspiracy.  It’s happening.  Within a generation, Arctic sea ice may all but disappear in the summer.

And so skeptics and cynics can insist on denying what’s right in front of our eyes.  But the Alaska Natives that I met, whose ancestral villages are sliding into the sea — they don’t have that luxury.  They know climate change is real.  They know it is not a hoax.  And from Bangladesh to the Pacific islands, rising seas are swallowing land and forcing people from their homes.  Around the world, stronger storms and more intense droughts will create humanitarian crises and risk more conflict. This is not just a moral issue, not just a economic issue, it is also an urgent matter of our national security.

And for too long, we’ve heard that confronting climate change means destroying our own economies.  But let me just say, carbon emissions in the United States are back to where they were two decades ago, even as we’ve grown our economy dramatically over the same period.  Alberta, the oil country of Canada, is working hard to reduce emissions while still promoting growth.  (Applause.)

So if Canada can do it, and the United States can do it, the whole world can unleash economic growth and protect our planet.  We can do this.  (Applause.)  We can do it.  We can do this.  We can help lead the world to meet this threat.

Already, together in Paris, we achieved the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change.  Now let’s bring it into force this year.  (Applause.)  With our agreement with Mexico that we announced today, let’s generate half the electricity on this continent from clean energy sources within a decade.  That’s achievable.  (Applause.)  Let’s partner in the Arctic to help give its people the opportunity they deserve, while conserving the only home they know.  And building on the idea that began in Montreal three decades ago, let’s finally phase down dangerous HFC greenhouse gases.  This is the only planet we’ve got.  And this may be the last shot we’ve got to save it.  And America and Canada are going to need to lead the way.  (Applause.)  We’re going to have to lead the way.

Just as we are joined in our commitment to protecting the planet, we are also joined in our commitment to the dignity of every human being.  We believe in the right of all people to participate in society.  We believe in the right of all people to be treated equally, to have an equal shot at success.  That is in our DNA, the basic premise of our democracies.

I think we can all agree that our democracies are far from perfect.  They can be messy, and they can be slow, and they can leave all sides of a debate unsatisfied.  Justin is just getting started.  (Laughter.)  So in case you hadn’t figured that out, that’s where this gray hair comes from.  (Laughter.)  But more than any other system of government, democracy allows our most precious rights to find their fullest expression, enabling us, through the hard, painstaking work of citizenship, to continually make our countries better.  To solve new challenges.  To right past wrongs.

And, Prime Minister, what a powerful message of reconciliation it was — here and around the world — when your government pledged a new relationship with Canada’s First Nations.  (Applause.)

Democracy is not easy.  It’s hard.  Living up to our ideals can be difficult even in the best of times.  And it can be harder when the future seems uncertain, or when, in response to legitimate fears and frustrations, there are those who offer a politics of “us” versus “them,” a politics that scapegoats others — the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different than us.  We have to call this mentality what it is — a threat to the values that we profess, the values we seek to defend.

It’s because we respect all people that the world looks to us as an example.  The colors of the rainbow flag have flown on Parliament Hill.  They have lit up the White House.  That is a testament to our progress, but also the work that remains to ensure true equality for our fellow citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  (Applause.)

Our Muslim friends and neighbors who run businesses, and serve in our governments and in our armed forces, and are friends with our children, play on our sports teams — we’ve got to stand up against the slander and the hate leveled against those who look or worship differently.  That’s our obligation.  That’s who we are.  That’s what makes America special.  That’s what makes Canada special.  (Applause.)  Here.  Here in Canada.  (Applause.)
Here in Canada, a woman has already risen to the highest office in the land.  In America, for the first time, a woman is the presumptive nominee of a major party and perhaps President.  (Applause.)  I have a bias on these issues — (laughter) — but our work won’t be finished until all women in our country are truly equal — paid equally, treated equally, given the same opportunities as men, when our girls have the same opportunities as our boys.  (Applause.)  That’s who we need to be.  (Applause.)
And let me say this — because I don’t feel particularly politically correct on this issue — I don’t believe that these are American values or Canadian values or Western values.  I believe, and Justin believes, and I hope all of you believe, these are universal values.  And we must be bold in their defense, at home and around the world.  (Applause.)  And not shy away from speaking up on behalf of these values of pluralism and tolerance and equality.  (Applause.)

I fear sometimes that we are timid in defense of these values.  That’s why I will continue to stand up for those inalienable rights, here in our own hemisphere — in places like Cuba and Venezuela — but also in more distant lands.  For the rights of citizens in civil society to speak their mind and work for change.  For the right of journalists to report the truth.  For the right of people of all faiths to practice their religion freely.  Those things are hard, but they’re right.  They’re not always convenient, but they’re true.

In the end, it is this respect for the dignity of all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, that perhaps more than anything else binds our two countries together.  Being Canadian, being American is not about what we look like or where our families came from.  It is about our commitment to a common creed.  And that’s why, together, we must not waver in embracing our values, our best selves.  And that includes our history as a nation of immigrants, and we must continue to welcome people from around the world.  (Applause.)

The vibrancy of our economies are enhanced by the addition of new, striving immigrants.  But this is not just a matter of economics.  When refugees escape barrel bombs and torture, and migrants cross deserts and seas seeking a better life, we cannot simply look the other way.  We certainly can’t label as possible terrorists vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorists.  (Applause.)

We can insist that the process is orderly.  We can insist that our security is preserved.  Borders mean something.  But in moments like this, we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because we were all once strangers.  If you weren’t a stranger, your grandparents were strangers.  Your great-grandparents were strangers.  They didn’t all have their papers ready.  They fumbled with language faced discrimination, had cultural norms that didn’t fit.  At some point, somewhere, your family was an outsider.  So the mothers, the fathers, the children we see today — they’re us.  We can’t forsake them.

So, as Americans and Canadians, we will continue to welcome refugees, and we can ensure that we’re doing so in a way that maintains our security.  We can and we will do both.  (Applause.) We can and we will do both.

We’re increasing our support to Central America, so that fewer families and children attempt the dangerous journey north. This fall at the United Nations, we’ll host a global summit on refugees, because in the face of this crisis, more nations need to step up and meet our basic obligations to our fellow human beings.  And it will be difficult, and budgets are tight, and there are legitimate issues and not everybody is going to be helped.  But we can try.  People of goodwill and compassion show us the way.

Greek islanders pulling families to shore.  And Germans handing out sweets to migrants at railway stations.  A synagogue in Virginia inviting Syrian refugees to dinner.  And here, in Canada, the world has been inspired as Canadians across this country have opened up their hearts and their homes.  And we’ve watched citizens knitting tuques to keep refugees warm in the winter.  (Laughter.)  And we’ve seen your Prime Minister welcome new arrivals at the airport, and extend the hand of friendship and say, “You’re safe at home now.”

And we see the refugees who feel that they have a special duty to give back, and seize the opportunities of a new life.  Like the girl who fled Afghanistan by donkey and camel and jet plane, and who remembers being greeted in this country by helping hands and the sound of robins singing.  And today, she serves in this chamber, and in the cabinet, because Canada is her home.  (Applause.)

A country “is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids…a country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values.”  How true that is.  How blessed we are to have had people before us, day by day, brick by brick, build these extraordinary countries of ours.  How fortunate, how privileged we are to have the opportunity to now, ourselves, build this world anew.  What a blessing.  And as we go forward together, on that freedom road, let’s stay true to the values that make us who we are — Canadians and Americans, allies and friends, now and forever.

Thank you very much.  Merci beaucoup.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
6:52 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Toasts at the State Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada at State Dinner

Source: WH, 3-10-16

 

East Room

8:32 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Bonsoir.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House as we host Prime Minister Trudeau, Mrs. Grégoire-Trudeau and the Canadian delegation for the first official visit and state dinner with Canada in nearly 20 years.  We intend to have fun tonight.  But not too much.  (Laughter.)  If things get out of hand, remember that the Prime Minister used to work as a bouncer.  (Laughter.)  Truly.  (Laughter.)

So tonight, history comes full circle.  Forty-four years ago, President Nixon made a visit to Ottawa.  And he was hosted by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.  (Applause.)  At a private dinner, there was a toast. “Tonight, we’ll dispense with the formalities,” President Nixon said, “I’d like to propose a toast to the future Prime Minister of Canada — Justin Pierre Trudeau.”  (Laughter.)  He was four months at the time.  (Laughter.)

All these years later, the prediction has come to pass.  Mr. Prime Minister, after today, I think it’s fair to say that, here in America, you may well be the most popular Canadian named Justin.  (Laughter and applause.)

I said this morning that Americans and Canadians are family. And tonight, I want to recognize two people who mean so much to me and Michelle and our family.  First of all, my wonderful brother-in-law, originally from Burlington, Ontario — Konrad Ng.  (Applause.)  This is actually an interesting story, though, that I was not aware of — Konrad indicated to me when we saw each other this afternoon that part of the reason his family was able to immigrate to Canada was because of policies adopted by Justin’s father.  And so had that not happened, he might not have met my sister, in which case, my lovely nieces might not have been born.  (Laughter.)  So this is yet one more debt that we owe the people of Canada (Laughter.)  In addition, a true friend and a member of my team who has been with me every step of the way — he is from Toronto and Victoria, and also a frequent golf partner, Marvin Nicholson.  (Applause.) So as you can see, they’ve infiltrated all of our ranks.  (Laughter.)

Before I ever became President, when we celebrated my sister and Konrad’s marriage, Michelle and I took our daughters to Canada.  And we went to Burlington and — this is always tough — Mississauga.  (Laughter.)  And then we went to Toronto and Niagara Falls.  (Laughter.)  Mississauga.  I can do that.  (Laughter.)  And everywhere we went, the Canadian people made us feel right at home.

And tonight, we want our Canadians friends to feel at home.  So this is not a dinner, it’s supper.  (Laughter.)  We thought of serving up some poutine.  (Laughter.)  I was going to bring a two-four.  (Laughter.)  And then we’d finish off the night with a double-double.  (Laughter.)  But I had to draw the line at getting milk out of a bag — (laughter) — this, we Americans do not understand.  (Laughter.)  We do, however, have a little Canadian whiskey.  That, we do understand.  (Laughter.)

This visit has been a celebration of the values that we share.  We, as a peoples, are committed to the principles of equality and opportunity — the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it if you try, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, in both of our countries.

And we see this in our current presidential campaign.  After all, where else could a boy born in Calgary grow up to run for President of the United States?  (Laughter and applause.)  Where else would we see a community like Cape Breton, Nova Scotia welcoming Americans if the election does not go their way?  (Laughter.)  And to the great credit of their people, Canadians from British Columbia to New Brunswick have, so far, rejected the idea of building a wall to keep out your southern neighbors.  (Laughter.) We appreciate that.  (Laughter.)  We can be unruly, I know.

On a serious note, this visit reminds us of what we love about Canada.  It’s the solidarity shown by so many Canadians after 9/11 when they welcomed stranded American travelers into their homes.  It’s the courage of your servicemembers, standing with us in Afghanistan and now in Iraq.  It’s the compassion of the Canadian people welcoming refugees — and the Prime Minister himself, who told those refugees, “You’re safe at home now.”

Justin, we also see Canada’s spirit in your mother’s brave advocacy for mental health care — and I want to give a special welcome to Margaret Trudeau tonight.  (Applause.)  And we see Canada’s spirit in Sophie — a champion of women and girls, because our daughters deserve the same opportunities that anybody’s sons do.

And this spirit reminds us of why we’re all here — why we serve.  Justin, Sophie, your children are still young.  They are adorable and they still let you hug them.  (Laughter.)  When we first spoke on the phone after your election, we talked not only as President and Prime Minister, but also as fathers.  When I was first elected to this office, Malia was 10 and Sasha was just seven.  And they grow up too fast.  This fall, Malia heads off to college.  And I’m starting to choke up.  (Laughter.)  So I’m going to wind this — it was in my remarks — (laughter) — and I didn’t — I can’t do it.  It’s hard.  (Laughter.)

But there is a point to this, though, and that is that we’re not here for power.  We’re not here for fame or fortune.  We’re here for our kids.  We’re here for everybody’s kids — to give our sons and our daughters a better world.  To pass to them a world that’s a little safer, and a little more equal, and a little more just, a little more prosperous so that a young person growing up in Chicago or Montreal or on the other side of the world has every opportunity to make of their life what they will, no matter who they are or what they look like, or how they pray or who they love.

Justin, I believe there are no better words to guide us in this work than those you once used to describe what your father taught you and your siblings — to believe in yourself. To stand up for ourselves.  To know ourselves, and to accept responsibility for ourselves.  To show a genuine and deep respect for each other and for every human being.

And so I would like to propose a toast — to the great alliance between the United States and Canada; to our friends, Justin and Sophie; to the friendship between Americans and Canadians and the spirit that binds us together — a genuine and deep and abiding respect for each and every human being.  Cheers.

(A toast is offered.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Dear friends, Mr. President, Barack, Michelle, all of you gathered here, it is an extraordinary honor for me to be here with you tonight.  Thank you so much for the warm welcome you’ve extended to Canada and to the Canadian delegation, and to Sophie and me, personally.

It’s incredibly touching to be able to be here not just as a couple, Sophie and I, but to have been able to bring our families down as well.  Sophie’s mom and dad, Estelle and Jean — get a load of Estelle, I’m looking forward to the future with Sophie.  (Laughter.)  And, of course, my own mother, Margaret, whose last State Dinner here was in 1977.  So it’s wonderful to have you here.

It’s also touching to meet Malia and Sasha, who are here at their first State Dinner.  And quite frankly, the memories for me of being a kid and not being old enough to attend these kinds of events with my father almost makes me wish I had gone through my teenage years as a child of a world leader — but not quite.  (Laughter.)  I admire you very much, both of you, for your extraordinary strength and your grace, through what is a remarkable childhood and young adulthood that will give you extraordinary strength and wisdom beyond your years for the rest of your life.  The one thing that you have received from your extraordinary parents is the tools to be able to handle the challenges and the opportunities in front of you.  So thank you very much for joining us tonight.  (Applause.)

In thinking about what I wanted to say this evening, I came across a quote from President Truman, who shared these words with the Canadian Parliament nearly 70 years ago.  He said that Canada’s relationship with the United States did not develop spontaneously.  It did not come about merely through the happy circumstance of geography, but was “compounded of one part proximity, and nine parts good will and commonsense.”

It is that enduring good will and commonsense that I believe defines our relationship to this day.  It’s what makes our constructive partnership possible.  It’s what allows us to respectfully disagree and remain friends and allies on the few occasions we do.  For example I would argue that it’s better to be the leader of a country that consistently wins Olympic gold medals in hockey.  (Laughter and applause.)  President Obama would likely disagree.  And yet, you still invited us over for dinner.  (Laughter.)  Because that’s what friends do.  (Laughter.)

Because, now that I think of it, we’re actually closer than friends.  We’re more like siblings, really.  We have shared parentage, but we took different paths in our later years.  We became the stay-at-home type — (laughter) — and you grew to be a little more rebellious.  (Laughter.)  I think the reason that good will and commonsense comes so easily is because we are Canadians and Americans alike, guided by the same core values.  Values like cooperation and respect.  Cooperation because it keeps us safe and prosperous.  And respect because it’s the surest path to both safeguarding the world we share and honoring the diverse people with whom we share it.

When it comes to security, for example, we agree that our countries are stronger and the world is safer when we work together.  For more than half a century, we’ve joined forces to protect our continent.  And we’ve been the closest of allies overseas for even longer, fighting together on the beaches of France, standing shoulder to shoulder with our European partners in NATO, and now confronting violent extremism in the Middle East.

In every instance, we realize that our concerns were better addressed together than alone, and together, we have realized the longest, most peaceful, and most mutually beneficial relationship of any two countries since the birth of the nation state.  It’s a relationship that doesn’t just serve its own interests — it serves the entire world.  Canadians and Americans also value economic interdependence, because we know that it brings greater prosperity for all of us.

Over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border every day — evidence of one of the largest and most mutually beneficial trading relationships in the world.  And one of our most popular exports to the United States, and I need you to stop teasing him, has been another Justin.  (Laughter.)  Now, no, no, that kid has had a great year.  (Laughter.)  And of course, leave it to a Canadian to reach international fame with a song called “Sorry.”  (Laughter and applause.)

Together, Canada and the U.S. negotiated trade agreements that have expanded opportunities for our businesses, created millions of good, well-paying jobs for our workers, and made products more affordable for more Canadian and American families.  We must never take that partnership for granted, and I can promise you that my government never will.

But nor should we forget that our responsibilities extend beyond our ruling borders and across generations, which means getting rid of that outdated notion that a health environment and a strong economy stand in opposition to one another.  And it means that when we come to issues like climate change, we need to acknowledge that we are all in this together.  Our children and grandchildren will judge us not by the words we said, but by the actions we took — or failed to take.

If we truly wish to leave them a better world than the one we inherited from our own parents — and I know, Mr. President, that you and the First Lady want this as strongly as Sophie and I do — we cannot deny the science.  We cannot pretend that climate change is still up for debate.  (Speaks French.)

Thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership — your global leadership on the pressing issue of the environment and climate change.  (Applause.)

And finally, we believe — Canadians and Americans — in the fundamental truth that diversity can be a source of strength.  That we are thriving and prosperous countries not in spite of our differences but because of them.  Canadians know this.  It’s why communities across the country welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees over the past four months.  (Applause.)  And not as visitors or temporary citizens, but as Canadians.  But of course, Americans understand this, too.  It’s why each generation has welcomed newcomers seeking liberty and the promise of a better life.  It’s what has made America great over the past decades.

We know that if we seek to be even greater, we must do greater things — be more compassionate, be more accepting, be more open to those who dress differently or eat different foods, or speak different languages.  Our identities as Canadians and Americans are enriched by these differences, not threatened by them.

On our own, we make progress.  But together, our two countries make history.  Duty-bound, loyal, and forever linked, whatever the future holds, we will face it together.  Neighbors, partners, allies, and friends.  This is our experience and our example to the world.

Barack, thank you for all that you have done these past seven years to preserve this most important relationship.  May the special connection between our two countries continue to flourish in the years to come, and may my grey hair come in at a much slower rate than yours has.  (Laughter.)

And with that, on behalf of 36 million Americans, I propose a toast to the President, to the First Lady, and to the people of the United States of America.  Cheers.

(A toast is offered.)

END
8:54 P.M. EST

Political Headlines March 10, 2016: White House State Dinner in Honor of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

PRESIDENCY, CONGRESS & CAMPAIGNS:

Guest list for state dinner in honour of Justin Trudeau

 Source: Toronto Star, 3-10-16
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ms. Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau

Ms. Naomi Aberly, Philanthropist

  • Mr. Larry Lebowitz

Mr. David Abney, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, United Parcel Service

  • Ms. Sherry Abney

The Honorable Adewale Adeyemo, Deputy Assistant to the President & Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, National Security Council, The White House

  • Ms. Heather Wong

Mr. Michael Alter, President, The Alter Group

  • Ms. Ellen Alter

Mr. Robert Anderson, Author

  • Mr. Eric Harland

The Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development of Canada

Ms. Sara Bareilles, Singer

  • Ms. Jennifer Bareilles

Mr. Bruce Bastian, Co-Founder, WordPerfect Corporation

  • Mr. Clinton Ford

Mr. Gary Bettman, Commissioner, National Hockey League

  • Mr. William Daly III

The Honorable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development & La Francophonie of Canada

The Honorable Tony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State

  • The Honorable Evan Ryan

Ms. Angela Bogdan, Chief of Protocol of Canada

Mr. Jeremy Broadhurst, Deputy to the Chief of Staff & Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of Canada

Mr. Stephen Bronfman, Canadian Business Representative & Philanthropist

Ms. Ursula Burns, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Xerox Corporation

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Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Remarks at Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada in Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 3-10-16

 

 

Rose Garden

11:11 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.  Please have a seat. Well, once again, I want to welcome Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House.  We just completed a very productive meeting.  Although I regret to inform you that we still have not reached agreement on hockey.  But it is not interfering with the rest of our bilateral relationship.  (Laughter.)

As I said earlier, this visit reflects something we Americans don’t always say enough, and that is how much we value our great alliance and partnership with our friends up north.  We’re woven together so deeply — as societies, as economies — that it’s sometimes easy to forget how truly remarkable our relationship is.  A shared border — more than 5,000 miles — that is the longest between any two nations in the world.  Every day, we do some $2 billion in trade and investment — and that’s the largest bilateral economic relationship in the world.  Every day, more than 400,000 Americans and Canadians cross the border  — workers, businesspeople, students, tourists, neighbors.  And, of course, every time we have a presidential election, our friends to the north have to brace for an exodus of Americans who swear they’ll move to Canada if the guy from the other party wins.  (Laughter.)  But, typically, it turns out fine.  (Laughter.)

This is now my second meeting with Justin.  I’m grateful that I have him as a partner.  We’ve got a common outlook on what our nations can achieve together.  He campaigned on a message of hope and of change.  His positive and optimistic vision is inspiring young people.  At home, he’s governing with a commitment to inclusivity and equality.  On the world stage, his country is leading on climate change and he cares deeply about development.  So, from my perspective, what’s not to like?

Of course, no two nations agree on everything.  Our countries are no different.  But in terms of our interests, our values, how we approach the world, few countries match up the way the United States and Canada do.  And given our work together today, I can say — and I believe the Prime Minister would agree — that when it comes to the central challenges that we face, our two nations are more closely aligned than ever.

We want to make it easier to trade and invest with one another.  America is already the top destination for Canadian exports, and Canada is the top market for U.S. exports, which support about 1.7 million good-paying American jobs.  When so many of our products, like autos, are built on both sides of the border in an integrated supply chain, this co-production makes us more competitive in the global economy as a whole.  And we want to keep it that way.

So we’ve instructed our teams to stay focused on making it even easier for goods and people to move back and forth across the borders — including reducing bottlenecks and streamlining regulations.  We discussed how to move forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and today we also reaffirmed our determination to move ahead with an agreement to pre-clear travelers through immigration and customs, making it even easier for Canadians and Americans to travel and visit and do business together.

As NATO allies, we’re united against the threat of terrorism.  Canada is an extraordinarily valued member of the global coalition fighting ISIL — tripling its personnel to help train and advise forces in Iraq, stepping up its intelligence efforts in the region, and providing critical humanitarian support.  We’re working closely together to prevent the flow of foreign fighters, and today, we agreed to share more information — including with respect to our no-fly lists and full implementation of our entry/exit system — even as we uphold the privacy and civil liberties of our respective citizens.

In Syria, the cessation of hostilities has led to a measurable drop in violence in the civil war, and the United States and Canada continue to be leaders in getting humanitarian aid to Syrians who are in desperate need.  Meanwhile, our two countries continue to safely welcome refugees from that conflict. And I want to commend Justin and the Canadian people once again for their compassionate leadership on this front.

I’m especially pleased to say the United States and Canada are fully united in combating climate change.  As the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I saw how both of our nations are threatened by rising seas, melting permafrost, disappearing glaciers and sea ice.  And so we are focusing on making sure the Paris agreement is fully implemented, and we’re working to double our investments in clean energy research and development.

Today, we’re also announcing some new steps.  Canada is joining us in our aggressive goal to bring down methane emissions in the oil and gas sectors in both of our countries, and together we’re going to move swiftly to establish comprehensive standards to meet that goal.  We’re also going to work together to phase down HFCs and to limit carbon emissions from international aviation.  We’re announcing a new climate and science partnership to protect the Arctic and its people.  And later this year, I’ll welcome our partners, including Canada, to our White House Science Ministerial on the Arctic to deepen our cooperation in this vital region.

We’re also grateful for Canada’s partnership as we renew America’s leadership across the hemisphere.  Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for Canada’s continuing support for our new chapter of engagement with the Cuban people, which I will continue with my upcoming visit to Cuba next week.  We’re going to work to help Colombia achieve peace and remove the deadly legacy of landmines there.  And our scientists and public health professionals will work with partners across the hemisphere to prevent the spread of the Zika virus and work together actively for diagnostic and vaccines that can make a real difference.

And finally, our shared values — our commitment to human development and the dignity of all people — continue to guide our work as global partners.  Through the Global Health Security Agenda, we’re stepping up our efforts to prevent outbreaks of diseases from becoming epidemics.  We are urgently working to help Ethiopia deal with the worst drought in half a century.  Today, our spouses, Michelle and Sophie, are reaffirming our commitment to the health and education of young women and girls around the world.  And Canada will be joining our Power Africa initiative to bring electricity — including renewable energy — to homes and businesses across the continent and help lift people out of poverty.  And those are our values at work.

So, again, Justin, I want to thank you for your partnership. I believe we’ve laid a foundation for even greater cooperation for our countries for years to come.  And I’d like to think that it is only the beginning.  I look forward to welcoming you back for the Nuclear Security Summit in a few weeks.  I’m pleased that we were able to announce that the next North American Leaders Summit that will be in Canada this summer.  The Prime Minister has invited me to address the Canadian parliament, and that’s a great honor.  I look forward to the opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian people about the extraordinary future that we can build together.

Prime Minister Trudeau.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Mr. President.

Good morning, everyone.  It’s an honor to be here.  As I’ve reflected on the storied relationship between our two great countries, I constantly return to President Kennedy’s wise words on our friendship that, “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”  And as President Obama mentioned earlier, if geography made us neighbors, then shared values made us kindred spirits, and it is our choices, individually and collectively, that make us friends.

That friendship, matched by much hard work, has allowed us to do great things throughout our history — from the beaches of Normandy to the free trade agreement, and now, today, on climate change.  The President and I share a common goal:  We want a clean-growth economy that continues to provide good jobs and great opportunities for all of our citizens.  And I’m confident that, by working together, we’ll get there sooner than we think.

Let’s take the Paris agreement, for example.  That agreement is both a symbolic declaration of global cooperation on climate change, as well as a practical guide for growing our economies in a responsible and sustainable way.  Canada and the U.S. have committed to signing the agreement as soon as possible.  We know that our international partners expect and, indeed, need leadership from us on this issue.

The President and I have announced today that we’ll take ambitious action to reduce methane emissions nearly by half from the oil and gas sector, reduce use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, and implement aligned greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, amongst other plans to fight climate change.

(As interpreted from French.)  We also announced a new partnership aiming to develop a sustainable economy in the Arctic.  This partnership foresees new standards based on scientific data, from fishing in the high seas of the Arctic, as well as set new standards to ensure maritime transport with less emissions.  The partnership will also promote sustainable development in the region, in addition to putting the bar higher in terms of preserving the biodiversity in the Arctic.

We have also decided to make our borders both more open and more safe by agreeing of pre-clearing at the Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto and the Jean Lesage Airport in Quebec, as well as the railroad stations in Montreal and Vancouver.  Moreover, we’re creating a U.S.-Canada working group in the next 60 days on the recourses to assess how we will resolve errors of identity on the no-fly list.

(Speaks English.)  The President and I acknowledge the fundamental and wholly unique economic relationship between Canada and the United States.  We have, historically, been each other’s largest trading partners.  Each and every day, over $2.4 billion worth of goods and services cross the border.  Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to streamlining trade between our countries.

Overall, the President and I agree on many things, including, of paramount importance, the direction we want to take our countries in to ensure a clean and prosperous future.  We’ve made tremendous progress on many issues.  Unfortunately, I will leave town with my beloved Expos still here in Washington.  You can’t have everything.  (Laughter.)

I’d like to conclude by extending my deepest thanks to Barack for his leadership on the climate change file to date.  I want to assure the American people that they have a real partner in Canada.  Canada and the U.S. will stand side by side to confront the pressing needs that face not only our two countries, but the entire planet.

I’m very much looking forward to the remainder of my time here in Washington.  So thank you again for your leadership and your friendship.  I know that our two countries can achieve great things by working together as allies and as friends, as we have done so many times before.

Merci beaucoup, Barack.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right, we’re going to take a few questions.  We’ll start with Julie Davis.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I want to ask you about the Supreme Court.  You’ve already said you’re looking for a highly qualified nominee with impeccable credentials.  Can you give us a sense of what other factors you’re considering in making your final choice?  How much of this comes down to a gut feeling for you?  And does it affect your decision to know that your nominee is very likely to hang out in the public eye without hearings or a vote for a long time, or maybe ever?  And, frankly, shouldn’t that be driving your decision if you’re asking someone to put themselves forward for this position as this point?

For Prime Minister Trudeau, I wanted to ask you — we know you’ve been following our presidential campaign here in the U.S. As the President alluded to, you’ve even made a joke about welcoming Americans who might be frightened of a Donald Trump presidency to your country.  What do you think the stakes are for you and for the relationship between Canada and the United States if Donald Trump or Ted Cruz were to win the presidency and to succeed President Obama?  You obviously see eye-to-eye with him on a lot of issues.  What do you think — how would it affect the relationship if one of them were to succeed President Obama?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Even though it wasn’t directed to me, let me just — (laughter) — I do want to point out I am absolutely certain that, in 2012, when there was the possibility that I might be reelected there were folks who were threatening to go to Canada, as well.  And one of the great things about a relationship like Canada’s and the United States’ is it transcends party and it’s bipartisan in terms of the interest that we share.

With respect to the Supreme Court, I’ve told you, Julie, what I’m looking for.  I want somebody who is an outstanding jurist, who has impeccable legal credentials, who, by historical standards, would not even be questioned as qualified for the Court.

Obviously, it’s somebody who I want to make sure follows the Constitution; cares about things like stare decisis and precedent; understands the necessary humility of a judge at any level in looking at statute, looking at what the elected branches are doing; is not viewing themselves as making law or, in some ways, standing above elected representatives, but also recognizes the critical role that that branch plays in protecting minorities to ensuring that the political system doesn’t skew in ways that systematically leave people out, that are mindful of the traditions that are embedded in our cherished documents like the Bill of Rights.

So in terms of who I select, I’m going to do my job.  And then my expectation is going to be that the Senate do its job as outlined in the Constitution.  I’ve said this before — I find it ironic that people who are constantly citing the Constitution would suddenly read into the Constitution requirements, norms, procedures that are nowhere to be found there.  That’s precisely the kinds of interpretive approach that they have vehemently rejected and that they accused liberals of engaging in all the time.  Well, you can’t abandon your principles — if, in fact, these are your principles — simply for the sake of political expedience.

So we’ll see how they operate once a nomination has been made.  I’m confident that whoever I select, among fair-minded people will be viewed as an eminently qualified person.  And it will then be up to Senate Republicans to decide whether they want to follow the Constitution and abide by the rules of fair play that ultimately undergird our democracy and that ensure that the Supreme Court does not just become one more extension of our polarized politics.

If and when that happens, our system is not going to work.  It’s not that the Supreme Court or any of our courts can be hermetically sealed from the rest of our society.  These are human beings.  They read the newspapers; they’ve got opinions; they’ve got values.  But our goal is to have them be objective and be able to execute their duties in a way that gives everybody — both the winning party and the losing party in any given case — a sense that they were treated fairly.  That depends on a process of selecting and confirming judges that is perceived as fair.  And my hope is, is that cooler heads will prevail and people will reflect on what’s at stake here once a nomination is made.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  One of the things that is abundantly clear whenever a President and Prime Minister sit down to engage on important issues of relevance to our peoples is that the relationship, the friendship between our two countries goes far beyond any two individuals or any ideologies.

I have tremendous confidence in the American people, and look forward to working with whomever they choose to send to this White House later this year.

Alex.

Q    Good morning.  This meeting is happening at a unique point in the Canada-U.S. relationship.  President Obama, you have very little time left here.  Prime Minister Trudeau, you have several years to think about and work on Canada’s most important relationship.  So I’d like to ask you a longer-term question, maybe to lay down some markers about big ideas, big things that you think the two countries could achieve in the coming years, beyond the next few months, and whether those things might include something like a common market that would allow goods and services and workers to flow more freely across our border.

And on a more personal note, you’ve had a chance to observe each other’s election campaigns and now you’ve had a chance to work together a little bit.  I’d like to ask you for your impressions — to ask about your impression of President Obama and his potential legacy, and about Prime Minister Trudeau’s potential.  And if you could answer that in French, bonus points to either of you — (laughter) — but we’d be especially keen to hear Prime Minister Trudeau do so.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Thank you, Alex.  First of all, we very much did engage on big issues throughout our conversations and throughout our hard work this morning, and over the months leading up to this meeting today — issues that are of import not just to all of our citizens but to the entire world.

Whether it’s how we ensure that there is no contradiction between a strong economy and a protected environment; understand how we need to work together as individual countries but, indeed, as a planet to address the challenges of climate change; how we continue to seek to ensure security for our citizens here at home, but also create stability and opportunity and health security for people around the world facing pandemics and violence and issues — these are big issues that Canada and the U.S. have always been engaged on in various ways over the past decades and centuries, and, indeed, will continue to.

One of the things that we highlight is the fact that we have different scales, different perspectives on similar issues and on shared values is actually a benefit in that we can complement each other in our engagement with the world and our approach to important issues.

So I look forward to many, many, many more years — it will certainly outlive the both of us — of a tremendous and responsible and effective friendship and collaboration between our two countries.

(As interpreted from French.)  The topic of our discussions this morning has been what is at stake — climate change, security in the world, our commitments towards the most vulnerable populations.  Canada and the United States are the lucky countries in many ways — they will always have a lot to do in order to be together in the world.  And this is what we are going to keep on doing in the years and the decades to come, and we hope in the centuries to come.

About President Obama, I’ve learned a lot from him.  He is somebody who is a deep thinker.  He is somebody with a big heart but also a big brain.  And for me to be able to count on him as a friend who has lived through many of the things that I’m about to encounter on a political stage, on the international stage, it’s a great comfort to me.  And it is always great to have people that you can trust, people that you can count on personally, especially when you are facing very big challenges such as what we are doing right now in the United States and Canada.

(Speaks English.)  — always pleased to hear from President Obama how he has engaged with difficult issues of the past, because he is a man of both tremendous heart and tremendous intellect.  And being able to draw on his experience and his wisdom as I face the very real challenges that our countries and, indeed, our world will be facing in the coming years is something I appreciate deeply about my friend, Barack.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, Alex, was it?

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Alex.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me just note, first of all, that the tenor of your question seems to imply that I’m old and creaky.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Not the tenor of my answer, I hope. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  No, you managed it well.  (Laughter.)  But don’t think I didn’t catch that.  It is true — I think I’ve said before that in my congratulatory call, I indicated to him that if, in fact, you plan to keep your dark hair, then you have to start dyeing it early.  (Laughter.)  You hit a certain point and it’s too late — you’ll be caught.

But look, I think Justin and his delegation — because one of the things we learn very rapidly in these jobs is, is that this is a team effort and not a solo act — they’re bringing the right values, enormous energy, enormous passion and commitment to their work, and perhaps most importantly, it’s clear that they are keenly interested in engaging Canadian citizens in the process of solving problems.

And I think that’s how democracies are supposed to work.  And their instincts are sound.  And that’s reflected in the positive response to the work that they’ve done so far, and I think that will carry them very far.  And Justin’s talent and concern for the Canadian people and his appreciation of the vital role that Canada can play in the larger world is self-apparent.  He is, I think, going to do a great job.  And we’re looking forward to partnering with him and we’re glad to have him and his team as a partner.

And with respect to big ideas, look, to some degree, you don’t fix what’s not broken.  And the relationship is extraordinary and doesn’t, I don’t think, need some set of revolutionary concepts.  What it does require is not taking the relationship for granted.  It does require steady effort.  And perhaps most importantly, it requires, because we have so much in common, that we recognize on the big, looming issues on the horizon, it is vital for us to work together because the more aligned we are, the more we can shape the international agenda to meet these challenges.

Climate change is such an example.  This is going to be a big problem for everybody.  There are countries that are going to be hit worse by it; in some ways, Canada and the United States, as wealthier countries, can probably adapt and manage better.  On the other hand, we’re also those responsible for a lot of the carbon pollution that is causing climate change.  If we don’t agree, if we’re not aggressive, if we’re not far-sighted, if we don’t pool our resources around the research and development and clean energy agenda that’s required to solve this problem, then other countries won’t step up and it won’t get solved.  That’s a big idea.  That’s a really important effort.

With respect to the economy, one of the things that Canada and the United States share is a commitment to a free market.  I believe, and I know Justin does as well, that a market-based economy not only has proven to be the greatest engine for prosperity the world has ever known, but also underwrites our individual freedoms in many ways.  And we value our business sector, and we value entrepreneurship.  But what we’re seeing across the developed world — and this will have manifestations in the developing world — is the need for more inclusion in growth, making sure that it’s broad-based, making sure that people are not left behind in a globalized economy.  And that’s a big idea for the United States and Canada to work together on, along with our other partners.

If we don’t get this right, if we do not make sure that the average Canadian or the average American has confidence that the fruits of their labor, the opportunities for their children are going to continue to expand over time, if they see societies in which a very few are doing better and better and the middle class and working people are falling further and further behind, that destabilizes the economy; it makes it less efficient; it makes it less rapid in its growth.  But it also starts destabilizing our politics and our democracies.

And so, working together to find effective ways — not to close off borders, not to pretend that somehow we can shut off trade, not to forget that we are, ourselves, nations of immigrants and that diversity is our strength — but rather to say, yes, the world is big and we are going to help shape it, and we’re going to value our openness and our diversity, and the fact that we are leaders in a global supply chain but we’re going to do so in ways that make sure everybody benefits — that’s important work that we’re going to have to do together.  And I know Justin shares that commitment just as I do.

Margaret Brennan.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Some of your critics have pointed to the incredibly polarized political climate under your administration as contributing to the rise of someone as provocative as Donald Trump.  Do you feel responsibility for that, or even some of the protectionist rhetoric from some Democratic candidates?  Do you have a timeline for when you might make a presidential endorsement?  And to follow on my colleague’s question here, do you feel political heat is constraining your pool of viable Supreme Court nominees?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  It’s a three-fer.  I think it’s important for me to nominate a Supreme Court nominee quickly because I think it’s important for the Supreme Court to have its full complement of justices.  I don’t feel constrained in terms of the pool to draw from or that I’m having to take shortcuts in terms of the selection and vetting process.

With respect to your first question, I’ve actually heard this argument a number of times.  I have been blamed by Republicans for a lot of things, but being blamed for their primaries and who they’re selecting for their party is novel.  (Laughter.)

Look, I’ve said — I said it at the State of the Union that one of my regrets is the degree to which polarization and the nasty tone of our politics has accelerated rather than waned over the course of the last seven and a half years.  And I do all kinds of soul-searching in terms of are there things I can do better to make sure that we’re unifying the country.  But I also have to say, Margaret, that, objectively, it’s fair to say that the Republican political elites and many of the information outlets — social media, news outlets, talk radio, television stations — have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal; that maximalist, absolutist positions on issues are politically advantageous; that there is a “them” out there and an “us,” and “them” are the folks who are causing whatever problems you’re experiencing.

And the tone of that politics — which I certainly have not contributed to — I don’t think that I was the one to prompt questions about my birth certificate, for example.  I don’t remember saying, hey, why don’t you ask me about that.  (Laughter.)  Or why don’t you question whether I’m American, or whether I’m loyal, or whether I have America’s best interests at heart — those aren’t things that were prompted by any actions of mine.

And so what you’re seeing within the Republican Party is, to some degree, all those efforts over a course of time creating an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive.  He’s just doing more of what has been done for the last seven and a half years.

And, in fact, in terms of his positions on a whole range of issues, they’re not very different from any of the other candidates.  It’s not as if there’s a massive difference between Mr. Trump’s position on immigration and Mr. Cruz’s position on immigration.  Mr. Trump might just be more provocative in terms of how he says it, but the actual positions aren’t that different.  For that matter, they’re not that different from Mr. Rubio’s positions on immigration — despite the fact that both Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio, their own families are the products of immigration and the openness of our society.

So I am more than happy to own the responsibility as President, as the only office holder who was elected by all the American people, to continue to make efforts to bridge divides and help us find common ground.  As I’ve said before, I think that common ground exists all across the country.  You see it every day in how people work together and live together and play together and raise their kids together.  But what I’m not going to do is to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken.

And what’s interesting — I’ll just say one last thing about this — there are thoughtful conservatives who are troubled by this, who are troubled by the direction of their party.  I think it is very important for them to reflect on what it is about the politics they’ve engaged in that allows the circus we’ve been seeing to transpire, and to do some introspection.

Because, ultimately, I want an effective Republican Party.  I think this country has to have responsible parties that can govern, and that are prepared to lead and govern whether they’re in the minority or in the majority, whether they occupy the White House or they do not.  And I’ve often said I want a serious, effective Republican Party — in part to challenge some of the blind spots and dogmas in the Democratic Party.  I think that’s useful.

You mentioned trade, for example.  I believe that there have been bad trade deals on occasion in the past that oftentimes they have served the interests of global corporations but not necessarily served the interests of workers.  But I’m absolutely persuaded that we cannot put up walls around a global economy, and that to sell a bill of goods to the American people and workers that if you just shut down trade somehow your problems will go away prevents us from actually solving some of these big problems about inequality and the decline of our manufacturing base and so on.

And that’s an area where some traditional conservatives and economists have had some important insights.  But they can’t be presented effectively if it’s combined with no interest in helping workers, and busting up unions, and providing tax breaks to the wealthy rather than providing help to folks who are working hard and trying to pay the bills.  And it certainly is not going to be heard if it’s coupled with vehement, anti-immigrant sentiment that betrays our values.

Okay?

Q    And an endorsement, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think that the Democratic voters are doing just fine working this out.  I think it’s useful that we’ve had a vigorous debate among two good people who care deeply about our country and who have fought hard on behalf of working people in this country for a long time.  I think it’s been a good conversation.  And my most important role will be to make sure that after primaries is done I’m bringing everybody together so that we focus on winning the general election.

Q    Mr. President, I’ll be asking the Prime Minister my question in French, but I will repeat for you in English afterwards.

(As interpreted.)  Mr. Trudeau, you have not talked about softwood lumber, and it’s a major problem for the bilateral relations.  Have you thought about solutions to avoid — the conflict reopens in October.  And you signed several agreements  — trade, environment — but what can you do so that the implementations survive the November election and that all of this has to be restarted a year from now?

(Asks in English.) — softwood lumber, which is looming over the bilateral relation?  And has any avenue been explored into avoiding a new conflict in October?  And to what extent is the fear of losing seats for the Democrats due to this issue kind of hampering progress on this?  And that being said, you and Prime Minister Trudeau have signed a number of agreements on a number of issues.  What can be done for this progress not to be lost with the arrival of a new administration and have everything have to be started all over again?

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  (As interpreted.)  For months and months, we have been preparing the meeting.  And this morning, we worked very hard and we made a lot of progress, and we have showed what is at stake.  A lot is at stake.  And we hope that this is going to be solved shortly to help enormously not only Canadian workers and Canadian economy, but also the economy of both our countries.

And among these discussions, of course, we raised the question of softwood lumber.  We keep on working on that.  And I’m totally confident that we are on the right track towards a solution in the next weeks and months to come.

Now, in terms of the decisions that we have taken and the work we have done today, I’m extremely confident that what we have managed to achieve, the agreements that we have taken and the solutions that we have found for the problems that we face together, I’m confident that all this is going to become a reality.  Because at every stage, not only are we talking about what is good for one side or the other side, but we’re talking about what is good for both countries.  Our economies are so interwoven, our populations are so interconnected, that we are going to have agreement, for instance, that will facilitate crossing of borders while increasing security of our citizens.  This is good for both sides.  And it is where we worked so hard together.  There was a lot of progress and a lot of success today.

(Speaks in English.)  — on many different issues over the course of an extremely productive meeting this morning — issues that have been worked on intensely by our respective friends, colleagues and delegations over the past weeks and months.  And certainly softwood lumber came up.  And I’m confident that we are on a track towards resolving this irritant in the coming weeks and months.

But in general, the issues that we made tremendous progress on I’m extremely confident will move forward in a rapid and appropriate fashion because we found such broad agreement on issues that aren’t just good for one of our two countries, but indeed both of our countries.  Canadians and Americans, for their jobs, for our kids and their futures, for workers, businesses, as we tackle challenges on the economy, challenges on the environment, and understand that working together in constructive, productive ways is exactly what this relationship and, indeed, this friendship is all about.

So I’m feeling extremely good about the hard work that was done this morning, and indeed, about the work remaining to do over the coming weeks and months on the issues we brought forward today.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  This issue of softwood lumber will get resolved in some fashion.  Our teams are already making progress on it.  It’s been a longstanding bilateral irritant, but hardly defines the nature of the U.S.-Canadian relationship.  And we have some very smart people, and they’ll find a way to resolve it — undoubtedly, to the dissatisfaction of all parties concerned, because that’s the nature of these kinds of things, right?  Each side will want 100 percent, and we’ll find a way for each side to get 60 percent or so of what they need, and people will complain and grumble, but it will be fine.  (Laughter.)

And in terms of continuity — one thing I will say — this is an area where I’ll play the elder statesman, as Alex described me.  (Laughter.)  And as somebody who came in after an administration that, politically, obviously saw things very differently than I did, what you discover is that for all the differences you may have in your political parties, when you’re actually in charge, then you have to be practical, and you do what is needed to be done and what’s in front of you.  And one of the things that is important for the United States, or for Canada, or for any leading power in the world, is to live up to its commitments and to provide continuing momentum on efforts, even if they didn’t start under your administration.

So there were a whole host of initiatives that began under the Bush administration — some that I was very enthusiastic about, like PEPFAR, that has saved millions of lives and prevented HIV/AIDS, or provided vital drugs to those already infected with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world — something that President Bush deserves enormous credit for.  We continued that.

But there are also some areas where, when I was outside the government, I questioned how they were approaching it.  I might have tweaked it.  To the extent that it involved foreign policy, I might say to my foreign policy partners, look, we have a problem of doing it this way, but here is a suggestion for how we can do the same thing, or meet your interests in a slightly different way.

But you’re always concerned about making sure that the credibility of the United States is sustained, or the credibility of Canada is sustained — which is why when there’s turnover in governments, the work that’s been done continues.  And particularly when you have a close friendship and relationship with a partner like Canada, it’s not as if the work we’re doing on the Arctic or on entry and exit visas vanishes when the next President comes in.  Of course, I intend to make sure that the next President who comes in agrees with me on everything.  (Laughter.) But just in case that doesn’t happen, the U.S.-Canadian relationship will be fine.

All right?  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
12:03 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts March 10, 2016: President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Remarks at Arrival Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada at Arrival Ceremony

Source: WH, 3-10-16

South Grounds

9:22 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE:  Good morning!

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Bonjour.  On behalf of the American people, on behalf of Michelle and myself, it is my honor to welcome to the United States Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — (applause) — Mrs. Grégoire-Trudeau, their beautiful children, and the quite good-looking Canadian delegation.  (Applause.)

It’s long been said that you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your neighbors.  (Laughter.)  Well, by virtue of geography, the United States and Canada are blessed to be neighbors.  And by choice, we are steadfast allies and the closest of friends.  (Applause.)  The truth is, though, we don’t express this enough, in part because of our national characters. Our Canadian friends can be more reserved, more easygoing.  We Americans can be a little louder, more boisterous.  And as a result, we haven’t always conveyed how much we treasure our alliance and our ties with our Canadian friends.   And that’s why, today, we are very proud to welcome the first official visit by a Canadian Prime Minister in nearly 20 years.  (Applause.)  It’s about time, eh?  (Laughter.)

And what a beautiful day it is.  Which is a little unfair.  As President, my very first foreign trip was to Canada — to Ottawa in February.  (Laughter.)  In the snow.  Still, our friends from the Great White North gave me a very warm welcome.  Mr. Prime Minister, we hope to reciprocate some of that warmth today, with your first official visit south of the border.

We’re joined today by proud Canadian-Americans.  (Applause.) We are family.  And this is also a special day for the many Canadians who live and work here in America and who enrich our lives every day.  We don’t always realize it, but so often, that neighbor, that coworker, that member of the White House staff, some of our favorite artists and performers — they’re Canadian! (Laughter.)  They sneak up on you.  (Laughter.)

Even as we remember what makes us unique, Americans and Canadians, we see ourselves in each other.  We’re guided by the same values, including our conviction that the blessings we cherish as free people are not gifts to be taken for granted but are precious freedoms that have to be defended anew by every generation.  Americans and Canadians — our brave men and women in uniform — have paid the price together across a century of sacrifice, from the poppy fields of Flanders to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan.  As NATO allies, we stand united against terrorism and for the rights of nations like Ukraine to determine their own destiny.  As leaders at the United Nations, we stand up for peace and security and the human rights of all people.

Our shared values also guide us at home.  I’m proud to be the first American President to stand with a Canadian Prime Minister and be able to say that — in both our nations — health care is not a privilege for a few but is now a right for all.  (Applause.)  And as two vast and vibrant societies, we reaffirm that our diversity is our strength — whether your family was among the first native peoples to live on these lands or refugees we welcomed just yesterday.  Whether you pray in a church or a synagogue, or a temple, or a mosque.  Where, no matter what province or state you live in, you have the freedom to marry the person that you love.  (Applause.)

Now, I don’t want to gloss over the very real differences between Americans and Canadians.  There are some things we will probably never agree on:  Whose beer is better.  (Laughter.)  Who’s better at hockey.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Royals!  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We are.  We are.  (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU:  Don’t get me started.  (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’m sorry.  Is it in my hometown with the Chicago Blackhawks?  (Applause.)  In case you were wondering.  In case you Canadians were wondering, where is it?  (Laughter.)

And this visit is special for another reason.  Nearly 40 years ago, on another March morning, another American President welcomed another Canadian Prime Minister here to the White House. That day, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said that the United States is “Canada’s best friend and ally.”  And one of the reasons, he said, is that we have “a common outlook on the world.”  Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau carries on this work.

Mr. Prime Minister, your election and the first few months in office have brought a new energy and dynamism not only to Canada but to the relationship between our nations.  We have a common outlook on the world.  And I have to say, I have never seen so many Americans so excited about the visit of a Canadian Prime Minister.  (Applause.)

So with this visit, I believe that the United States and Canada can do even more together — even more to promote the trade and economic partnerships that provide good jobs and opportunities for our people.  Even more to ensure the security that so many Americans and Canadians count on so that they can live in safety and freedom.  Even more to protect our countries and our communities — especially in the Arctic — from climate change, just as we acted together at Paris to reach the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change.  (Applause.)  And guided by our values, we can do even more together to advance human development around the world — from saving a child from a preventable disease to giving a student in Africa electricity to study by — because, as Americans and Canadians, we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being.  (Applause.)

As always, our work as nations remains rooted in the friendship between our peoples.  And we see that every day in communities along our shared border.  Up in Hyder, Alaska, folks head across the border to celebrate Canada Day, and folks in Stewart, British Columbia come over for the Fourth of July.  At the baseball diamond in Coutts, Alberta, if you hit a home run, there’s a good chance the ball will land in Sweetgrass, Montana. (Laughter.)  And up where Derby Line, Vermont meets Stanstead, Quebec, Americans and Canadians come together at the local library where the border line literally runs right across the floor.  A resident of one of these border towns once said, we’re two different countries, but we’re like one big town and “people are always there for you.”

So, Prime Minister Trudeau — Justin, Sophie — to all our Canadian friends — we are two different countries, but days like this remind us that we’re like one big town.  And we reaffirm that Americans and Canadians will always be there for each other. Welcome to the United States.  Bienvenue, mes amis.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINSTER TRUDEAU:  Mr. President, First Lady, distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen — thank you for this extraordinary welcome.  Thank you so much for inviting Sophie and me and, through us, all of Canada to join with you on this spectacular morning.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)    Sophie and I, along with our entire delegation, are honored and touched by your magnificent hospitality, and by the reinforcement of just how powerful you are, Mr. President, to organize such a perfect day for us.  (Laughter.)

(Speaks in French, then continues in English.)

You may recall that our government was elected on a plan to strengthen the middle class.  We have an ambitious innovation agenda as we realize that revitalizing our economy will require investing in new ideas and new technologies.  Our plan will foster emerging industries, create good jobs, and increase our global competitiveness.  That was the Canadian plan, and of course, it very much resembles the challenges and the solutions that you’ve been putting forward here south of the border — a plan to invest in our country and invest in our people.  And it’s wonderful to see that our American friends and partners share and are working on the exact same objectives.

See, as our leading trading partner and closest ally, the relationship between our two countries has always been vital.  As an exporting nation, Canada is always eager to work closely to reduce trade barriers between our countries.  And speaking of exports, we know with certainty that there’s a high demand for Canadian goods down here.  A few that come to mind that President Obama just rightly recognized as being extraordinary contributors to the American success story is Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks.  (Applause.)

We’ve faced many challenges over the course of our shared history.  And while we have agreed on many things and disagreed on a few others, we remain united in a common purpose — allies, partners, and friends as we tackle the world’s great challenges. Whether we’re charting a course for environmental protection, making key investments to grow our middle class, or defending the rights of oppressed peoples abroad, Canada and the United States will always collaborate in partnership and good faith.  The history may be complex, but the bottom line is clear.  There is no relationship in the entire world like the Canada-U.S. relationship.  (Applause.)

Our great countries have been friends a long time.  We grew up together.  And like all great enduring friendships, at our best, we bring out the best in one another.  And through it all, our enormous shared accomplishments speak for themselves — prosperous, free, diverse societies that have shaped history together.

We could not be prouder of that past.  And on behalf of 36 million Canadians, I thank you all for your warm welcome.  Now let’s get to work on shaping our shared future.

Merci beaucoup.  (Applause.)

END
9:37 A.M. EST

News Headlines December 5, 2014: Wilson, a shepherd collie mix found shot in the mouth in abandoned house

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THE HEADLINES….

Wilson, a shepherd collie mix found shot in the mouth in abandoned house 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Local residents in the small Saskatchewan town of Lestock, recently found a male shepherd collie mix in an abandoned house, but he was not the only inhabitant, also found was a female dog along with her eight puppies in the…READ MORE

News Headlines December 3, 2014: Hawk, police therapy dog helps seven-year-old girl testify at sex abuse trial

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THE HEADLINES….

Hawk, police therapy dog helps seven-year-old girl testify at sex abuse trial

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Hawk, a Labrador Retriever and police therapy dog has become one of the first dogs in Canada to comfort a witness while testifying in court. Hawk, a police therapy dog is helping two child witnesses testify this week in a…READ MORE

Full Text Political Transcripts October 22, 2014: Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Statement on the Attacks at Canada’s Parliament Hill

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Full Text Obama Presidency October 22, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Statement on the Parliament Hill Shooting in Canada — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on the Shooting Incident in Canada

Source: WH, 10-22-14 

Oval Office

4:00 P.M. EDT

Q    Can you say something about Canada?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, thank you very much.  I appreciate — thank you.  I had a chance to talk with Prime Minister Harper this afternoon.  Obviously, the situation there is tragic.  Just two days ago, a Canadian soldier had been killed in an attack.  We now know that another young man was killed today.  And I expressed on behalf of the American people our condolences to the family and to the Canadian people as a whole.

We don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting.  We don’t yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network or plan, or whether this was an individual or series of individuals who decided to take these actions.  But it emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terrorism.  And I pledged, as always, to make sure that our national security teams are coordinating very closely, given not only is Canada one of our closest allies in the world but they’re our neighbors and our friends, and obviously there’s a lot of interaction between Canadians and the United States, where we have such a long border.

And it’s very important I think for us to recognize that when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity, that Canada and the United States has to be entirely in sync.  We have in the past; I’m confident we will continue to do so in the future.  And Prime Minister Harper was very appreciative of the expressions of concern by the American people.

I had a chance to travel to the Parliament in Ottawa.  I’m very familiar with that area and am reminded of how warmly I was received and how wonderful the people there were.  And so obviously we’re all shaken by it, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re standing side by side with Canada during this difficult time.

Q    What does the Canadian attack mean to U.S. security, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we don’t have enough information yet.  So as we understand better exactly what happened, this obviously is something that we’ll make sure to factor in, in the ongoing efforts that we have to counter terrorist attacks in our country.

Every single day we have a whole lot of really smart, really dedicated, really hardworking people — including a couple in this room — who are monitoring risks and making sure that we’re doing everything we need to do to protect the American people.  And they don’t get a lot of fanfare, they don’t get a lot of attention.  There are a lot of possible threats that are foiled or disrupted that don’t always get reported on.  And the work of our military, our intelligence teams, the Central Intelligence Agency, the intelligence community more broadly, our local law enforcement and state law enforcement officials who coordinate closely with us — we owe them all a great deal of thanks.

Thank you, guys.  Appreciate you.

END
4:16 P.M. EDT

Full Text Obama Presidency October 22, 2014: Readout of US President Barack Obama’s Call to Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Readout of US President Barack Obama’s Call to Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada

Source: WH, 10-22-14 

President Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to express the American people’s solidarity with Canada in the wake of attacks on Canadian Forces in Quebec on October 20 and in Ottawa on October 22. President Obama condemned these outrageous attacks, reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between our people. The President offered any assistance Canada needed in responding to these attacks. Prime Minister Harper thanked the President and the two leaders discussed the assault and agreed to continue coordination between our governments moving forward.

Full Text Obama Presidency October 22, 2014: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s Statement on the Tragic Shootings in Ottawa, Canada at Parliament Hill — Transcript

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

On the Tragic Shootings in Ottawa, Canada

Source: WH, 10-22-14

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the following statement in response to the shootings in Ottawa, Canada this morning, when a Canadian soldier was shot in the wake of another attack in Quebec earlier this week:

“The thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House go out to the families of those who were affected by today’s shooting in Canada, as well as to the family of the soldier who was killed earlier this week. The President was briefed earlier today in the Oval Office by his top homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco. The details about the nature of this event are still sketchy, which is not unusual in a chaotic situation like this one.

“Canada is one of the closest friends and allies of the United States. And from issues ranging from the strength of our NATO alliance, to the Ebola response, to dealing with ISIL, there’s a strong partnership and friendship and alliance between the United States and Canada. The United States strongly values that relationship, and that relationship makes the citizens of this country safer.

“Officials inside the U.S. government have been in close touch with their Canadian counterparts today to offer assistance. That includes officials here in the White House. We have been in touch with the Canadians about arranging a phone call between the President and Prime Minister Harper, at the Prime Minister’s earliest convenience.”

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: North American Leaders Summit Roundup

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

North American Leaders Summit Roundup

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Press Conference at Three Amigos Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Patio Central
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

7:25 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  Members of the media.  Your Excellency, President of the United States of America Barack Obama; Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.  Once again, I would like to welcome you to our country.

It is a great honor to have hosted you for the North American Leaders Summit here in the State of Mexico, and Toluca, its capital city — a state that I had the great honor of being the governor of before I took office with the greatest honor in the world of politics, and that is to lead the course of my country.

That is why I am very glad that we have had the opportunity of having this meeting.  And I’d like to congratulate myself for creating a space where we have had dialogues, where we have outreach to our countries, and where we have strengthened our friendship.  I can be certain that the warm space where we have met is very different from what the teams of men and women representing Mexico in Sochi are having in Russia.  They are in very cold weather and fighting hard to win a medal.  So be welcome to this very warm weather.

I would like to summarize for the media and for your delegations the scope of our meetings.  I would like to share with you that we have two highlights in our meetings.  First we had a bilateral with President Barack Obama and with his delegation and their counterparts from Mexico to address the following, and I would like to share this with you.

First of all, we assessed the breakthroughs related to the agreements made during President Obama’s past visit in May to our country, and now during his fifth visit — and I must note that Mexico ranks top of the list of the most visited countries by President Obama during his term.  And we were able to identify the level of progress of the agreements made back then; how much we have advanced the exchange between high level officials to precisely boost the trade and commercial relationship that Mexico and the U.S. have.

We have also analyzed the possibility of setting forward new mechanisms to build and fund strategic projects.  We have agreed to work on a proposal that would help us find different mechanisms to fund projects so that we can give a new life to our infrastructure, to have more agile and have safer commercial transactions between our countries.

Specifically, we talked about education.  We have set the task to have more academic exchanges so that more Mexican students can study in the United States and, reciprocally, students from the United States come to Mexico to study.  The number of students so far is somehow low, considering the potential that we have.  And out of the 14,000 students from Mexico that go to the United States to study, we have set a goal and that is to increase year by year this figure and reach 100,000 students a year that visit the United States, and 50,000 students from the U.S. coming to Mexico to study.

We have revised our security agenda and we have agreed to maintain a strategic dialogue, to coordinate efforts so we can face a common issue — security in both of our countries and, specifically, security at the border.

On the other hand, I would like to refer to the outcome of the North American Leaders Summit.  Therefore, I would like to share with you highlights in terms of the agreements reached in this framework.  We have worked on four main topics.  The first one is to foster shared and inclusive prosperity.  We have agreed to work on a plan to boost competitiveness.  We also have agreed to work on a North America transport plan which would give us better infrastructure in our three countries to make the commerce that happens between our three nations thrive.

We also agreed to standardize and expedite all the procedures that take place in our customhouses.  We have also agreed to enable the movement of individuals, and by this have Trusted Travelers Programs.  We have, each one, a program of this nature with a purpose in mind that all the travelers that are part of the Trusted Travelers registers in our countries are considered as a vetted traveler in North America.

Additionally, in terms of the second topic, we have addressed areas of opportunity.  And I must insist, in terms of our binational agenda with the United States, we have added up Canada to work on a program to train professionals by increasing our academic exchanges and ensuring mobility of students between our three countries.

We have also agreed to foster sustainable development, working towards the mitigation of the effects of climate change. And in the area of sustainability, we have also agreed to work on the preservation of the Monarch butterfly.  It is a landmark species in North America.  This is a species present in our three countries, and we have agreed to work a taskforce with a presentation from our three countries to preserve the Monarch butterfly.

Then, another topic is citizen security and regional topics. We have agreed to give privilege to the exchange of information, and we have also privilege to coordinate efforts between law enforcement authorities.  We will reinforce the measures aimed to fight money laundering and illicit financial flows.  And for that purpose we need to integrate our financial systems further.

We have also restated our commitment to support and cooperate with the Central America region as well as the Caribbean because they are partners in this hemisphere.  We have committed to foster development, economic growth and citizen security as well.

Basically, I have summarized the commitments made during the summit.  And fourthly, we have committed, the three of us, to give follow-up to all the agreements made.  Besides making agreements, we have committed to give follow-up to each one of those agreements and we have committed to make them happen.

Finally, I would like to share with you that in order to reach our goals we need to identify that North America is quite valuable.  The Free Trade Agreement executed 20 years ago and the intense dialogue that we have between our three countries in the North American region is very valuable and every exchange is based on trust.  And we share a very good relationship between all of us who lead our countries.

This North America Leaders Summit has been a very good opportunity to specify what our commitments will be and what are the tasks for the future.  And it has also served as a space to restate our friendship, the good relationship that we have and the respect that we pay to each other.  And we have committed to work hard to make a significant contribution, to make North America a more competitive region — I would dare to say the most competitive region in the world.  And this is a region that has a true call for prosperity.  And we will work to provide better well-being to the citizens of our countries.

We have made great strides.  We create plenty of jobs due to the economic relationship that we have managed to achieve, but we want more.  We want more development.  We are aware of the potential that we find in North America.  And I make a pledge so that the seventh summit of leaders of North America serves its purpose.

Once again, we welcome, and I would like to say that I hope you have had a very pleasant stay in Toluca and I hope that this visit has been very fruitful.  And I hope that we have been able to build an even stronger relationship.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Buenas noches to President Peña Nieto.  To the people of Toluca and the people of Mexico, thank you so much for your extraordinary hospitality.  Thank you again, Enrique, for welcoming us to your hometown and home state, which — like the beautiful surroundings tonight — reflects Mexico’s proud history as well as the economic dynamism of today’s Mexico.

I want to thank President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper for their partnership in deepening the extraordinary ties between our countries — especially the trade that supports good jobs for our people.  For the United States, Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners with trade that supports millions of American jobs.  Thanks in part to our efforts to boost U.S. exports, American exports to Canada and Mexico continue to grow faster than our exports to the rest of the world.

Together, our countries have strengths that give North America a tremendous competitive advantage — the skills of our workers, manufacturing that’s growing, and new sources of energy. So we have to take advantage of these competitive advantages, and we need to do it together.  All of this positions us to be a powerhouse in the global economy.  And that’s why we’re here, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be more competitive and create more jobs in Canada, in Mexico, and in the United States.

First, we’re focused on making it easier to trade.  Earlier today, I signed a new executive order to make it easier for companies that want to export and import.  Instead of dealing with dozens of different federal agencies and long paper forms, we’re going to create a one-stop shop online, so companies can submit all their information in one place and save themselves time and money.  We’re going to keep investing in infrastructure — like roads, bridges, border crossings — so our goods are getting to market faster.  We’ve agreed to keep working to make it easier for our businesspeople and tourists to trade and travel.  And we’re going to step up our efforts to streamline and eliminate regulations or the red tape that can sometimes stifle trade and job creation.

We’ve agreed to keep working to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including strong protections for our workers and the environment, so that we can compete in the fast-growing markets of the Asia Pacific.  And because it will grow the U.S. economy and make the United States more attractive to investment — and because we have to do right by our families and our values — I’ve reiterated that immigration reform remains one of my highest priorities.

I’m also very pleased that we’ve agreed to keep expanding educational partnerships, as Enrique mentioned, so our young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.  And this builds on my initiative that we call 100,000 Strong in the Americas.  We want more students from the United States studying throughout the hemisphere, and we want more students from places like Mexico and Canada studying in the United States — so that they’re developing familiarity and partnerships and friendships that will serve them and serve our countries well for decades to come.

Second, we continue to deepen our clean-energy partnerships, which create jobs and combat climate change.  Yesterday, I announced that the United States will develop new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks — standards that reduce carbon pollution.  And today, all three of our nations have agreed to work together to meet high fuel standards for these heavy-duty trucks.

And more broadly, we agreed to join with our Central American and Caribbean partners on a regional energy strategy.   And this builds on the commitment I made in Central America last year to help our partners across the region reduce their energy costs and become more competitive.  On a global level, we agreed to keep standing together as we push for an international agreement to phase down the production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons.

Number three, we know that realizing our full potential as individual countries and as a region means confronting the criminals and narcotraffickers who unleashed so much violence on our citizens.  Here in Mexico, the security forces and the Mexican people continue to make enormous sacrifices in that fight, and our three nations are united against this threat.  In the United States, we continue to be committed to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and we’ll continue our unprecedented efforts to combat the southbound flow of illegal guns and cash.

And, finally, given our shared commitment to democratic values and human rights, I want to take this opportunity to address the situation in Venezuela and Ukraine, and the unacceptable violence in those two countries, which the United States strongly condemns.

In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people.  So, along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protestors that it’s detained and engage in real dialogue.  And all parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.

With regard to Ukraine, along with our European partners, we will continue to engage all sides.  And we continue to stress to President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian government that they have the primary responsibility to prevent the kind of terrible violence that we’ve seen, to withdraw riot police, to work with the opposition to restore security and human dignity and move the country forward.  And this includes progress towards a multiparty technical government that can work with the international community on a support package and adopt reforms necessary for free and fair elections next year.

Ukrainians are a proud and resilient people who’ve overcome extraordinary challenges in their history, and that’s a pride and strength that I hope they draw on now.  Meanwhile, I’ve urged the military in Ukraine to show restraint and to let civilians pursue the dialogue necessary for progress.  We’ve obviously seen reports of a truce between the government and the opposition.  If the truce is implemented, it could provide space for the sides to resolve their disagreements peacefully.

And going forward, we’ll continue to do whatever we can to support Ukrainians as they seek a peaceful resolution and respond to the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for a strong, unified democracy that’s fully integrated into the international community.

So, again, I want to thank Enrique and the people of Mexico, and the people of Toluca, for their wonderful hospitality.  If we stay focused on our shared vision — a North America that’s more integrated and more competitive — then progress in each of our countries will mean more prosperity and opportunity for everyone.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me to start out by thanking President Peña Nieto for his generous hospitality.  We have had a wonderful stay in this wonderful country, in Mexico, and we are eager to come back soon.

Today, I had fruitful meetings and dialogues with my commercial partners from Mexico in regard to services, information, and also shared and fundamental values and, of course, a democratic and peaceful world.

Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of NAFTA.  As time can tell us, this treaty was successful, and it started guaranteeing prosperity from one extreme to the other of the hemisphere.  The volume of exchanges is fourfold now, and is over $30 billion.  And we have now seen exponential growth and can hope for exponential growth in years to go.

We are in agreement to say that we can still grow the success of NAFTA, to implement new ways, for instance, in regard to the Trans-Pacific alliance.  And so these negotiations should be for the best.  We need to create employment.  This is the key to revitalize the economy and to foster prosperity not only for the Canadian populations, but for our populations at large.

That’s why our government will keep on working and expanding the free trade and commerce with our main partners in North America, as well as with Asia Pacific region and worldwide, since we want to have access on the other side of the Atlantic, since we have subscribed to the free exchange agreement with Europe.

Today, President Obama, President Peña Nieto and myself have discussed and have delved into many topics, especially the state of the world economy at a local, regional level, and competiveness — North American competitiveness.  We are truly enthusiastic to collaborate, with this idea of collaborating together.  We shall keep on working together with my homologues [counterparts] and to take a profit of all the occasions for the well-being of our populations.  And we will host the forthcoming population of the summit in Canada.

And I would like to add a word in regard to the situation in Ukraine.  There’s been a truce, but it is essential that we take action.  And at the end of the day, the Ukrainian government has to be held responsible for settling this situation.  The Ukrainian government took actions — actions that were not only unpopular, but actions that put at risk nature and the aspirations of becoming an independent nation.

(In English.)  My sincere thanks to President Peña Nieto and the Mexican people for their generous hospitality.  We’ve had a wonderful time here in beautiful Mexico, and I look forward to returning again soon.

Today we had productive meetings with Canada’s closest friends and trading partners — partners with whom we share goods, services and information, and also fundamental values and a vision for a democratic and peaceful world.

This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement.  And as only time can reveal, the agreement — statistics alone — has been overwhelmingly successful and is responsible for creating prosperity from the bottom to the top of the continent.  There has been a fourfold growth in trilateral trade over the last 20 years that now exceeds a trillion dollars. And it is estimated that the NAFTA marketplace will continue to expand exponentially in the decades to come.

We all agree that there is enormous potential to build on the success of NAFTA in new ways, for example, most notably through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re therefore focused on bringing those negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Developing trade is one of the keys to job creation.  It is a key to economic vitality, and it is a key to long-term prosperity not just for the Canadian people, but for all of our peoples.  That’s why our government will continue to work to expand trade with our two core trading partners in North America, in the Asia Pacific region more generally, and around the world  — just as we did last year, when we expanded our access across the Atlantic through the conclusion of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

In our meetings today, Presidents Peña Nieto, Obama and I discussed a range of topics as have already been detailed by my colleagues, including the state of the global economy, international regional security, and North American competitiveness.  We share a genuine enthusiasm for closer collaboration.

The Presidents and I will continue to work together to address the challenges of the 21st century and to seize the many promising opportunities that the future holds for our peoples.  And I do look forward to hosting the next North American Leaders Summit in Canada.

And I’d also just like to conclude with a word on the situation in Ukraine.  We obviously are encouraged to hear the news of a truce.  While this is good news, this kind of news, these kinds of words are only meaningful if they are put into action.  And ultimately, it is the regime that is responsible for resolving the current situation.  It is the regime that created this situation — not by taking decisions that were merely unpopular, but by undertaking decisions that went against the very nature and aspirations of Ukraine as an independent state.  And for that reason, we hold the government responsible and urge them to take all the steps necessary to resolve the situation and to put Ukraine back on the democratic and Euro-Atlantic path that the Ukrainian people desire.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted.)  We will have a round of questions.  Jason McDonald will introduce the Canadian journalist asking the question.

MR. MCDONALD:  Omar Sachedina from CTV News.

Q    Mr. President, good evening to you.  Canada has offered to work with the United States on joint rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.  You’ve said the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be approved if it significantly worsens climate change.  The State Department report has concluded that Keystone will not have a significant effect on climate change.  So my question to you is, what more needs to be done on both sides of the border for this project to go ahead?

And, Prime Minister, I’d love for you to be able to weigh on this as well.  Et en français aussi, s’il vous plaît.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I’ve stated previously, there is a process that has been gone through, and I know it’s been extensive, and at times I’m sure Stephen feels a little too laborious.  But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests.

So the State Department has gone through its review.  There is now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in.  That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we’ll make a decision at that point.

In the meantime, Stephen and I, during a break after lunch, discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.  And this is something that we have to deal with.  I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision, but, frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage, because the science is irrefutable.  We’re already seeing severe weather patterns increase.  That has consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security.  It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate, and will be extraordinarily costly.

So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada.  One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways.  And that’s something that we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth.  But we only have one planet, and so I believe that ultimately we can both promote economic development and growth, recognizing that we’re not going to immediately transition off of fossil fuels, but that we do have to point to the future and show leadership so that other countries who will be the main emitters fairly soon — China, India, other emerging markets — so that they can look at what we’re doing and we have leverage over them in terms of them improving their practices as well.

So this will be a joint effort.  I’m very eager to consult with Stephen around those issues.  And Keystone will proceed along the path that’s already been set forth.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, obviously, President Obama and I had an exchange on this.  My views in favor of the project are very well known.  His views on the process are also equally well known.  And we had that discussion and will continue on that discussion.

I would just say two things about the process.  First, on the issue of climate change, which is a shared concern, Canada and the United States have similar targets at the international level.  We already cooperate in several sectors in terms of emissions reductions.  But in terms of climate change, I think the State Department report already was pretty definitive on that particular issue.

The other thing I’d just draw attention to, just because I think it’s useful to point out the benefits to Canada, is the reform that we had done of environmental review and assessments of projects in Canada.  As you know, a couple years ago we moved to reform our system so that we have a single review wherever possible — a single review, a multi-dimensional review that happens over a fixed timeline.  And I think that is a process that is tremendously useful in giving investors greater certainty in terms of the kind of plans they may have in the Canadian economy.

(As interpreted.)  And now I shall repeat my comments in French.  (Speaks in French.)

MODERATOR:  From the traveling U.S. press, goes to Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press.

Q    Señor Presidente, muchas gracias.  Ha sido un placer.  Prime Minister — do you worry that longstanding opposition to trade deals in the U.S. from both the President’s party and some Republicans pose a threat to the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  And do you — in your mind, is it essential that Congress approve it, or at least give the President fast track authority this year, or can it wait until after the U.S. elections in November?

Mr. President, if you’d like to chime in on that as well — you mentioned parochial interest today; I’d be interested in how you intend to bring your Democrats along.  But I had a question for you on something else that you raised.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  How many questions do you got, Jim?

Q    Just one, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  (Laughter.)  Because you know I’ve got to answer that one, too, right?  That was a pretty slick move.  (Laughter.)

Q    The common denominator in the strife in Ukraine and Syria is the support that those two governments get from Russia, and I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that President Putin bears some responsibility for the intransigence of those two regimes.  And to some degree, has this gone beyond just those two countries, and has it become a tug of war between two world powers?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me answer very briefly on the trade issue.  It’s not accurate, Jim, to say that my party opposes this trade deal.  There are elements of my party that oppose this trade deal, there are elements of my party that oppose the South Korea free trade agreement, the Colombia free trade agreement and the Panama free trade agreement — all of which we passed with Democratic votes.

So what I’ve said to President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper is we’ll get this passed if it’s a good agreement.  And the key at this point is to make sure that our countries, which hold ourselves up as champions of free trade, resolve our legitimate national interests in these negotiations so that we can present a united front against a number of the other participants in the TPP negotiations who don’t have as much of a tradition of free trade.  And that is to our advantage, precisely because North America has this amazing competitive advantage, and we are already relatively open markets.

And part of our goal here is to make sure that the Asia Pacific region — which is growing faster than anyplace else in the world, has a larger population than anyplace else in the world — that they have a model of trade that is free and fair and open and allows our businesses to compete and allows our workers to make goods and deliver services that those markets are purchasing.  And we can only do that if we raise the bar in terms of what our trade models look like.

And I’ve said this to some of my own constituents who are opposed to trade:  Those who are concerned about losing jobs or outsourcing need to understand some of the old agreements put us at a disadvantage.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to have stronger agreements that protect our intellectual property, that open up markets to our agricultural products; that make sure that when it comes to government procurement or sovereign wealth funds in these other countries, that they’re not taking advantage of our businesses and preventing us from competing there.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to get this done.  And I’m very appreciative of the shared vision and commitment that Prime Minister Harper and President Enrique Peña Nieto have on this issue.

Now, with respect to Syria and the Ukraine, I do think it is worth noting that you have in this situation one country that has clearly been a client state of Russia, another whose government is currently — been supported by Russia; where the people obviously have a very different view and vision for their country.  And we’ve now seen a great deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries.

I don’t think there’s a competition between the United States and Russia.  I think this is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside of the Ukraine who recognize that basic freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, fair and free elections, the ability to run a business without paying a bribe, to not be discriminated against because of your religion or your beliefs — that those are fundamental rights that everybody wants to enjoy.

Now, Mr. Putin has a different view on many of those issues, and I don’t think that there’s any secret on that.  And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.  Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going off and killing women and children, or chemical weapons, or towns being starved because a despot wants to cling to power.

Those express our values and our national interests, and we will continue to express those national interests.  There are times, I hope, where Russia will recognize that over the long term they should be on board with those values and interests as well.  Right now, there are times where we have strong disagreements.  And when I speak to Mr. Putin, I’m very candid about those disagreements, even as we will continue to pursue cooperation with Russia on areas where we had shared concerns.

But I want to emphasize this:  The situation that happened in Ukraine has to do with whether or not the people of Ukraine can determine their own destiny.  And my government and Vice President Biden, and I personally, have expressed to President Yanukovych the need for him to recognize the spirit of the Ukrainian people and work with that, as opposed to trying to repress it.  And so we’ll continue to stand on the side of the people.

My hope is, at this point, that a truce may hold, but Stephen is exactly right — ultimately, the government is responsible for making sure that we shift towards some sort of unity government, even if it’s temporary, that allows us to move to fair and free elections so that the will of the Ukrainian people can be rightly expressed without the kinds of chaos we’ve seen on the streets and without the bloodshed that all of us I think strongly condemn.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as I said, we are wanting to see and committed to seeing a good, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.  I think it’s in all of our interest for the reasons that have already been laid out.  That said, the government of Canada’s position is always clear in these matters that we will only come to an agreement when we are convinced the agreement is in the best interest of Canada.  And we will stay at the table as long as it takes to get to that particular situation.

And I think we have the track record to prove it.  Our government, the current government of Canada, has signed more trade agreements than all previous Canadian governments combined. What I would say is this — I’m not going to comment on the process in Congress.  What I would say is this — the reason I said what I said about working until we get an agreement that is in the interest of Canada is we will have to have an agreement that can be sold to the Canadian Parliament and ultimately to the Canadian people.  And that’s what we’re aiming for.

(The Prime Minister repeats his remarks in French.)

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  The Mexican stand has been very clear, and specifically our take on the TPP have always stated it, it is of the interest of Mexico.  We have been part of the negotiation rounds to eventually reach an agreement of this important opportunity that the TPP offers.  We can expand the potential of North America into the Asia Pacific region.  Mexico would do its best for the sake of Mexico to be on the side of the solution.  We will overcome disagreements and eventual roadblocks that the negotiation rounds present.  And we hope that it is this spirit that we reach the agreement.

Mexico has made a commitment and has shown political will to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We hope that the deal happens.  That is the Mexican stand, and we will work to the best of our ability to reach this goal.

Now, on behalf of Mexico, Miguel Reyes Razo, from the Mexican Editorial Organization, will ask a question.

Q    (As interpreted.)  Good evening, everyone.  By virtue of the fact that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the efforts made by Mexico, the United States and Canada, we have NAFTA for 20 years.  I would like to ask Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of my country, what is the outlook of the northern part of this continent in terms of development?  And at the same time, Mr. President Peña Nieto, I would like to know, what are the challenges for the development that we have hoped for, that we are expecting?

And I would like to ask the President of the United States of America, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada — what is the engagement that we should expect from you? What is your actual commitment to make this region, North America, thrive in economical terms?  Now, we have 13 months and a half of your administration, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto.  And you, Canada and the United States, partners and neighbors of this country, what is your take?  What is your take on this 13 months and a half of the Mexican President?  Thank you very much for your reply.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. Miguel, I believe that we have been very candid in terms of the huge strength that we see in North America after 20 years of the free trade agreement.  Our trade has been able to thrive.  We have more commercial exchanges.  We have more investment in the region.

And today we have integrated added value chains between our three countries.  That means that we are adding value to products that are offered in this great market.  We are fully aware of the economic growth since, so far, we are fully aware of the creation of jobs in North America.  That is why we have committed in this summit to take on actions that would help us strengthen our economic ties even further.  We have committed to enable trade, to have better infrastructure, to have safer exchanges, and to make our trade be easier.  So these are the agreements that we have made today.

And we have also acknowledged the enormous potential.  And the future that we see in the horizon would be based on the strengths that we have built upon over the course of the last 20 years.  And let us acknowledge that we are three countries that we are like-minded in terms of our values.  We are three democratic countries.  We are three countries who believe in free trade.  And our countries have found in this instrument a space to create jobs and to have more development in our nations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, as we’ve said I think throughout our meetings today, America’s success, Mexico’s success, Canadian success are all bound together.  I think that if you just look at the facts, Mexico has made enormous strides over the last several decades.  And, in part, that is because we’ve seen a greater integration of Mexico in the world economy.  I think the United States and Canada have played constructive roles in that.  Our ability to trade and engage in commerce with Mexico obviously has created jobs and opportunities in our country, as well.  And so it has been a mutually beneficial partnership — based on self-interest, but also as Enrique said, based on common values.

We’ve seen a consolidation of democracy here in Mexico, and I think the kinds of reforms that Enrique has initiated over the last 13 months are ones that will put Mexico in an even stronger competitive footing in the world economy in the years to come.

And I recognize there are still implementation issues that will be involved, and there will be a healthy debate here in Mexico, but I’m confident, given the talent of the Mexican people, given the resources of the Mexican people, given the growing capacity of Mexican businesses, and given the fact that we, as a North American entity, constitutes a huge trading bloc and economic powerhouse around the world, that we should anticipate Mexico’s growth to continue, standards of living to continue, jobs and opportunities to continue.  And that’s what we hope for all our countries.

I’m confident that the partnership that we’ve developed is good for the United States, creates jobs in the United States, helps businesses in the United States.  And if we continue to cooperate and try to reduce some of the barriers that have in the past slowed down our commercial exchanges, as well as educational exchanges and scientific exchanges, then we’re going to be successful.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me, this is our perspective.  While Canada has seen great success, but the development of Mexico throughout this time period that is 20 years has been unbelievable, socially, economically, politically. And Mexico is becoming a world of power.  And we see this accelerating process with the support of President Peña Nieto.

You have made comments on the challenges to meet.  I think that the greatest one is the need to keep on increasing the flow of goods and services and information across our borders at a time where risks and threats to security are also increased across the borders.  And that will be the greatest challenge to meet.

(In English.)  Look, I think the NAFTA relationship, as I’ve said before, has been tremendously successful for all of us. But I think, looking back 20 years, the development of Mexico on all levels — economic, social, political — over the period has been incredible.  It’s a process that is accelerating under President Peña Nieto’s very bold vision for the future, and Mexico is increasingly becoming a global economic player.

You asked about challenges.  I think the biggest single challenge is in an era where we are seeing and need to see even greater movement of goods, services, people, investments, information flows across our borders, that at the same time, the risks and the threats to security across those borders continue to rise.  So the big challenge will be how we continue to grow that human and trade flow, while at the same time minimizing the risks.

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted) President Peña Nieto, would you like to take the floor so you can officially close this meeting?

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Yes, I will.  Thank you very much.

Once again, I would like to congratulate myself for this summit.  We have built a climate that is based on trust, respect, and we have worked towards a relationship that it’s very clear in terms of the responsibilities of each one of the heads of state. And I am certain that this relationship will result in a greater integration, a stronger friendship, and whatever we do for the sake of North America will benefit our peoples.

I would like to bear testimony of how grateful I am towards the authorities of the state, the Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Ávila.  I’d like to thank you for enabling the summit to take place here.  I would like to thank the Chief Justice of the State of Mexico.  They provided us with their facilities.

And I would like to thank the inhabitants of the capital city of the State of Mexico, Toluca, for their hospitality.  I thank them.  And I’d like to thank all of them for the inconveniences and all the preparation work and all the security operations needed for the summit.  I’m very grateful towards them.  And I’m very grateful for the hospitality given to the President of the United States, Barack Obama; and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

Thank you very much and have a safe trip home.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:20 P.M. CST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Speech to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders at Three Amigos Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Travels to Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today, the President traveled to Toluca, Mexico for this year’s North American Leaders’ Summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders

Source: WH, 2-19-14 

Salon del Pueblo
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

5:03 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Your Excellency, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests:  We are here gathered with representatives from the public, the private, and the social sectors.  All of you have walked along with us in the construction road to a more competitive North America.  And by this, we will have a higher level of development for our peoples.

Members of the media, Mexico welcomes you with open arms to celebrate the North America Leaders Summit, Toluca 2014.  Besides being Toluca, my hometown, this is the place where I was entrusted by the citizens to serve as the governor of this state, the state of Mexico.  The state of Mexico is a clear symbol of the productive integration of North America due to its geographic location and its connectivity.  Here we have seen the settlement of advanced automobile facilities and very important logistic hubs.  Both are a true example of value chains, global value chains that make North America excel.

That is why, from Toluca, the three leaders of North America confirm today our commitment to position our region as one of the most dynamic and competitive of the whole world.

I celebrate the fact that we have gathered here with prominent representatives from the academia, from the private sector, and from the civil society from North America.  Your contribution has been vital to bring Canada, the U.S. and Mexico closer.  With a clear vision in mind, all of you pushed from the onset the great idea that gathers us today — an integrated North America with goals and shared efforts.

(Drop in audio feed.)

Once, the Free Trade Agreement area was the largest free trade area with an unprecedented push of trade exchanges, regional investment, and the creation of millions of jobs.  With the same innovative spirit, two decades after, we are bound to go beyond and enhance all together the progress that each one of our countries has made, because individually all our countries have moved forward as well.

Therefore, the principal topics of this seventh summit are very clear:  First, inclusive and shared prosperity.  Number two, new opportunity areas.  Number three, citizen security.  And fourth, regional and global topics.  It is upon these four topics today we will work together to boost the economic growth of our countries and a generation of quality jobs, and by this, increase the wellbeing of our societies.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada, the United States and Mexico share strengths that make us move forward.  We are a community of more than 450 million inhabitants where talent and creativity of our peoples excel.  Trade exchanges from the three countries are over $1 trillion; in Spanish we use billions, in English we use trillions.  We have the support and thrive of our entrepreneurs and the capabilities of technological innovation coming from our universities and large companies.

We have principles, we have institutions that make us be solid democracies.  We have natural resources, endless natural resources and new opportunities so we can take advantage of them sustainably.

All of these are factors that lay a solid groundwork for North America’s region, and this is how we will make it a more attractive and competitive region in the world for the upcoming years.  I would like to invite you, respectfully, so that each one of us from the area where you have the responsibility to act, let’s make North America a more competitive and a more prosperous region for the sake of the inhabitants of our countries.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  Buenas tardes.  Bonjour.  I want to thank Enrique for his extraordinary hospitality and for bringing us here to his beautiful home city.  I want to thank the people of Toluca and of Mexico for your great hospitality.

We’re all here on business, which means I’m not here as long as I’d like.  I have not, for example, sampled some of Toluca’s legendary chorizo.  (Laughter.)  And hopefully the next time I stop by, I’m going to be able to have some of that.

All of us — Stephen, Enrique and I — are focused on how we can deepen what are already incredible ties between our three nations.  And I appreciate that all of you are here today, because governments cannot do it alone.  The strength of the relationship between Canada, Mexico and the United States is not just a matter of government policy; it’s not just a matter of legislation.  There is an incredible richness to the relationship that comes from our people, from our businesses, from our commercial ties, from the students who are traveling back and forth, from the cultures that are shared between us.

And that strength is in some ways unique throughout the world.  If you think about North America, to have three borders this long in which we share a common set of values, a common set of principles, a commitment to democracy, a commitment to free markets, a commitment to trade where we are allies and interact peacefully, that is a precious gift.  And it’s one that I think all three of us are committed to building and nurturing for future generations.

And for me this is very personal.  Some of my closest advisors and allies and political friends are the children of Mexican immigrants who have made an extraordinary life and contribution in the United States.  My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to like Canadians — (laughter) — although I will note that I think we are going to have both the men’s hockey teams and the women’s hockey teams battling it out.  (Laughter.)  So for a very brief period of time, I may not feel as warm towards Canadians as I normally do — at least until those matches are over.

But each of you experiences these connections in very concrete ways.  Enrique already spoke about the volume of trade that takes place, and the interactions between our businesses, and the subsidiaries of companies in each country that are operating in the other.  And so much of the cross-border trade that exists is part of an integrated supply chain that allows us, all three of us as countries, to successfully sell our products and services all around the world.

And so we have every incentive to make this work.  And so a lot of our conversation has focused on how do we reduce any continuing trade frictions; how do we make sure that our borders are more efficient; how do we make sure that the educational exchanges between our young people are expanded so that our young people understand their opportunities will be brighter and expanded if in fact they’ve had the opportunity to study in Canada or to study in Mexico, if they know Spanish, if they know French.

And we use these forums to make concrete progress.  Our staffs work incredibly hard to make them successful.  But, frankly, until our leaders come around, until the three of us meet, sometimes it doesn’t all get done.  And this becomes a forcing mechanism for us to move forward on commercial progress, joint security progress, progress on educational and scientific exchanges.

But — and this is the last point I want to emphasize — there are always going to be parochial interests in each of our countries, so that’s appropriate and that will express itself politically, and we have to be responsive to our own constituencies.  If, in fact, we’re going to continue to build and strengthen the ties between our three countries, then you can’t just leave it to politicians alone.  All of you are going to have to speak out and speak up on the importance of this relationship.

We want to make sure that we’re your partners and allies in this process, but when people understand what this means in terms of job creation in the United States, job creation in Canada, job creation in Mexico, how this relationship enhances our security, how it improves our capacity to heat our homes and grow our food and make sure that young people have opportunities in the future — when they hear that from you, it’s that much more persuasive.

And so I would encourage all of you to continue to make your voices heard.  You’ll have certainly a partner in me, and I’m sure that you’ll have a partner in Stephen and Enrique as well.

I thank you for participating here today.  And once again, Enrique, thank you for the extraordinary hospitality in this beautiful state and this beautiful city.  Muchas gracias.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Bon après-midi.  Buenas tardes.  Good afternoon, everybody — wonderful day and we’re delighted to be here in Toluca.  And it’s easy to see why you’re so proud of your hometown.  It’s a wonderful spot here.

And, Barack, it’s always great to see you.  And I like my brothers-in-law, too.  (Laughter.)  And I’ll probably like them no matter who wins the hockey game.  (Laughter.)  Anyway.

I want to also thank all of you being here, in particular, obviously, the delegation that has accompanied me from Canada.

(As interpreted.)  Today we have this opportunity to make this North American market more competitive.  You are entrepreneurs, you are job creators, employment creators all over this continent.

(In English.)  — with so many business people here, as well as academics and others, to discuss how to make North America, which is these three economies combined, which is nearly one-quarter of the world’s economy more prosperous and more competitive.

And it’s particularly fitting that it would be you as civil society and business leaders who would lead such a discussion, for although it was NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement before it that opened up the opportunities, this is a trade alliance that, in fact, consists of very little top-down infrastructure.  It has been businesses, people on the ground, social interactions, academic interactions which have advanced relations, particularly economic relations that go well beyond trade.

Today, Canadian, American and Mexican companies do much more than sell things to each other.  You increasingly make things together through integrated supply chains.  Now, for example, we talk about the fact, in Canada obviously, that the Canadian-American trade relationship is the largest in the world — certainly, the U.S. is our largest export market.  But Canadian exports to the United States contain an average of 25 percent American content.  Likewise, Mexican exports to the United States include an average of 40 percent U.S. content.

(As interpreted.)  So this is why we want to tighten our relationships and increase the competitiveness in the region.  And we call on the entrepreneurs — of course, the Canadian and U.S. companies are grabbing occasions and opportunities in Mexico — throughout the continent to create employment seedbeds.

(In English.)  Jobs include organizations as diverse as TransCanada, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Beef Canada, the Canola Council, Linamar, Scotiabank and many others that I know are represented with us here today.  And they have tremendous growth prospects in fields such as energy, in education, agri-food, information and communications technologies, banking and financial services, and many, many others, particularly when one looks at not just the rapid transformation in this country over the past 20 years, but the very aggressive reforms that are being undertaken by President Peña Nieto’s administration.

(As interpreted.)  And having said this, the world, the entire world is not what it used to be in 1994.

(In English.)  Different realities from 20 years ago are realities we must adapt to today.  They include obviously the ongoing uncertainty, market uncertainty that remains from the global recession and also from a global economy that is much more competitive from many other regions.

(As interpreted.)  We must work together to be able to break barriers and for the benefit of our populations.

(In English.)  And so, as Canadians, Mexicans and Americans, we need to look for ways to work together and to look forward.

Thank you for being here.  (Applause.)

END                5:21 P.M. CST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech before Bilateral Meeting on North American Leaders Summit and Condemning Ukrainian Violence

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama before Restricted Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 2-19-14 

Governor’s Office
Palacio De Gobierno Del Estado De Mexico
Toluca, Mexico

1:00 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me thank President Peña Nieto for his wonderful hospitality in hosting us here today.  And it’s a special treat to be able to visit his home town of Toluca.

This is my fifth visit to Mexico, and I think it underscores the incredible importance of the relationship between the United States and Mexico, not only on commercial issues and security issues, but because of the intimate person-to-person relations that exist between our two countries.

I want to congratulate President Peña Nieto on the outstanding efforts that he’s made during the course of this year on a whole range of reforms that promise to make Mexico more competitive and increase opportunity for the people of Mexico.  And I’m also very interested in hearing President Peña Nieto’s strategies as he embarks on dealing with some of the reforms in the criminal justice system and around security issues, which I know are very pressing on his mind and where we have some excellent cooperation between the United States and Mexico.

More broadly, the North American Leaders Summit gives us an opportunity to build on the enormous progress that we’ve already made in making sure that North America is the most competitive region in the world and that we are able not only to continue to integrate our economies effectively to create jobs both in the United States, Mexico and Canada, but that we’re able to project American and Mexican and Canadian goods and services around the world toward the benefit of our people.

And the cooperation ranges from how do we make our borders more efficient to moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that offers the opportunity to open up new markets in the fastest, most populous region of the world, the Asia Pacific region.

We’ll also have the opportunity to discuss how we can work together more closely on scientific and educational exchanges.  We’re particularly interested in making sure that young people in Mexico and the United States and Canada are able to study and travel in each country, and we’re trying to expand those kinds of exchanges.

So this is a wonderful opportunity for us to build on the work that we’ve already done over the last year.

With the President’s indulgence, let me say one last thing, and that is about the situation in Ukraine, which obviously has captured the attention of the entire world.

The United States condemns in strongest terms the violence that’s taking place there.  And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as both the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to assure that that violence ends.

But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way; that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression.

And I want to be very clear that as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we are going to be watching very carefully and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.  We’ve said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful.  And we’ll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.  And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.

So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine, and ultimately our interest is to make sure that the Ukrainian people can express their own desires.  And we believe that a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe, and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity.

But regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future, it is important that it is the people themselves that make those decisions.  And that’s what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.

And I do think there is still the possibility of a peaceful transition within Ukraine, but it’s going to require the government, in particular, to actively seek that peaceful transition, and it requires the opposition and those on the streets to recognize that violence is not going to be the path by which this issue will be resolved.

Thank you very much.

END
1:10 P.M. CST

Political Musings February 5, 2014: Obama announces leaving major XL Keystone Pipeline decision making to Kerry

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama announces leaving major XL Keystone Pipeline decision making to Kerry

By Bonnie K. Goodman

The major news of the second part of the Bill O’Reilly and President Barack Obama Super Bowl interview that aired on Monday evening, Feb. 3, 2014 during the regularly scheduled The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News…READ MORE

Political Musings November 25, 2013: Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama faces opposition to Iran nuclear weapons deal from Israel, GOP & Canada

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House Saturday November 23, 2013, in Washington about the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran (photo credit: AP/Susan Walsh)

The P5+1 world superpowers came to an interim deal with Iran to freeze their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions late Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 during the their third round of talks on the issue in Geneva…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency September 6, 2013: Joint Statement on Syria

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Joint Statement on Syria

Source: WH, 9-6-13

The Leaders and Representatives of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America made the following statement on the margins of the Group of 20 Nations Leader’s Meeting in Saint Petersburg, Russia:

The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.  The use of chemical weapons anywhere diminishes the security of people everywhere.  Left unchallenged, it increases the risk of further use and proliferation of these weapons.

We condemn in the strongest terms the horrific chemical weapons attack in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21st that claimed the lives of so many men, women, and children.  The evidence clearly points to the Syrian government being responsible for the attack, which is part of a pattern of chemical weapons use by the regime.

We call for a strong international response to this grave violation of the world’s rules and conscience that will send a clear message that this kind of atrocity can never be repeated. Those who perpetrated these crimes must be held accountable.

Signatories have consistently supported a strong UN Security Council Resolution, given the Security Council’s responsibilities to lead the international response, but recognize that the Council remains paralyzed as it has been for two and a half years.  The world cannot wait for endless failed processes that can only lead to increased suffering in Syria and regional instability.  We support efforts undertaken by the United States and other countries to reinforce the prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.

We commit to supporting longer term international efforts, including through the United Nations, to address the enduring security challenge posed by Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.  Signatories have also called for the UN fact finding mission to present its results as soon as possible, and for the Security Council to act accordingly.

We condemn in the strongest terms all human rights violations in Syria on all sides.  More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, more than 2 million people have become refugees, and approximately 5 million are internally displaced.  Recognizing that Syria’s conflict has no military solution, we reaffirm our commitment to seek a peaceful political settlement through full implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique.  We are committed to a political solution which will result in a united, inclusive and democratic Syria.

We have contributed generously to the latest United Nations (UN) and ICRC appeals for humanitarian assistance and will continue to provide support to address the growing humanitarian needs in Syria and their impact on regional countries. We welcome the contributions announced at the meeting of donor countries on the margins of the G20.  We call upon all parties to allow humanitarian actors safe and unhindered access to those in need.

European signatories will continue to engage in promoting a common European position.

Political Musings July 5, 2013: President Barack Obama hints at fate of Keystone XL pipeline in climate change speech

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Obama hints at fate of Keystone XL pipeline in climate speech

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Last Tuesday, June 25, United States President Barack Obama gave a major address on his plans for climate change. Environmentalists lauded Obama’s policy plan; he was finally fulfilling a long ignored campaign promise. However, Canadians were left parsing…READ MORE

Political Musings June 25, 2013: PM Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama discuss Keystone XL oilsands pipeline on G8 summit sidelines

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Harper and Obama discuss Keystone XL oilsands pipeline on G8 summit sidelines

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Canadian PM Stephen Harper attended the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland June 17th and 18th as part of a wider working visit to Europe, where he also addressed the British Parliament on June…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency April 2, 2012: Three Amigos Summit: President Barack Obama Meets with Canadian PM Stephen Harper & Mexican President Felipe Calderon in One Day North American Leaders’ Summit — Speeches: Joint Statement & Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

photo040212_01.jpg

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet at the White House. Photo by Paul Chiasson/CP

U.S., Canada and Mexico to Boost Trade

Source: AP, 4-2-12
President Obama, center, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon walked to a joint press conference at the White House on Monday.

President Barack Obama says the U.S., Canada and Mexico are launching a new bid to pare back regulation in hopes of boosting trade and creating more jobs.

At a three-way North American summit on Monday with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, Mr. Obama said the three will “go through the books” to simplify regulations and eliminate others that aren’t needed.

Three-way trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico now exceeds $1 trillion, and President Obama says he wants to see that number rise.

The three leaders also discussed immigration and the war on drugs during their one-day summit. Mr. Obama praised Mr. Calderón for “great courage” in standing up to Mexico’s cartels….READ MORE

Boosting Economic Growth Throughout North America

Source: WH, 4-2-12

President Obama today hosted the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs in all three countries.

Last year, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada exceed $1 trillion for the first time. And finding ways to continue boosting exports was one goal of today’s talks.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama was able to point to an initative that will help to accomplish that objective:

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation. Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion. And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis. So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This builds on conversations between the U.S. and Canada that were announced when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the White House back in December.

In today’s talks, the leaders also discussed security, energy, and efforts to combat drug cartels.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Joint Statement by North American Leaders

Source: WH, 4-2-12

We, the Leaders of North America, met today in Washington, DC to advance the economic well-being, safety, and security of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  Rooted in deep economic, historical, cultural, environmental, and societal ties, North American cooperation enhances our ability to face global challenges, compete in the international economy, and achieve greater prosperity.  We reaffirm our commitment to further develop our thriving political and economic partnership with a consistent and strategic long-term vision, as progress on our common agenda directly benefits the peoples of our region.

Broad-based, sustainable economic growth and job creation remains our top priority.  For the first time, in 2011 our total trilateral merchandise trade surpassed USD 1 trillion.  Our integration helps maximize our capabilities and makes our economies more innovative and competitive globally. Working together, we strive to ensure that North American economic cooperation fosters gains in productivity for all of our citizens, enhancing our respective national and bilateral efforts to achieve that goal.

To that end, we pledge to introduce timely and tangible regulatory measures to enable innovation and growth while ensuring high standards of public health, safety, and environmental protection.  We will continue to reduce transaction costs and improve the existing business environment.  We have launched the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council and the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council during the past two years, pursuing a shared objective that we commit to complement trilaterally in four sectors:  certain vehicle emission standards, railroad safety, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Workplace Chemicals, and aligning principles of our regulatory approaches to nanomaterials.  This is particularly important to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are the engines of growth.  By eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences, smaller businesses are better equipped to participate in an integrated North American economy.  Success in these efforts opens the way to additional North American regulatory cooperation.

Continued North American competitiveness requires secure supply chains and efficient borders.  We remain committed to achieving this through cooperative approaches.  To this end, the United States and Mexico released the Declaration Concerning Twenty-first Century Border Management in May 2010 and the United States and Canada released the Beyond the Border Action Plan:  A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness in December 2011.  We are committed to the mutually-reinforcing goals of these important initiatives and to their full implementation.  By also supporting the work of multilateral organizations to foster improved collaboration, integration, and standards, we better identify and interdict threats before they reach our borders, as well as expedite the legitimate movement of goods and people throughout North America in a more efficient, secure, and resilient manner.  We also have instructed our trade and commerce ministers to identify sectors where we can deepen our regional cooperation through increased trade and investment.

As leading sources of innovation and creativity, our three countries are committed to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).  We commit to promote sound enforcement practices and an effective legal framework for IPR enforcement in the areas of criminal enforcement, enforcement at the border, civil and administrative actions, and distribution of IPR infringing material on the Internet consistent with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States and Canada have recently signed.  Mexico will continue to work on a comprehensive reform to its legal system to achieve the high standards pursued under ACTA.

Energy cooperation reduces the cost of doing business and enhances economic competitiveness in North America.  We recognize the growing regional and federal cooperation in the area of continental energy, including electricity generation and interconnection and welcome increasing North American energy trade.  We commit our governments to work with all stakeholders to deepen such cooperation to enhance our collective energy security, including the safe and efficient exploration and exploitation of resources.  We support coordinated efforts to facilitate seamless energy flows on the interconnected grid and to promote trade and investment in clean energy technologies.

Enhanced electricity interconnection in the Americas would advance the goals of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to reduce energy poverty and increase the use of renewable sources of energy.  We recognize Mexico’s leadership in supporting inter-connections in Central America and reaffirm our support to bring affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable power to businesses and homes in Central America and the Caribbean while opening wider markets for clean energy and green technology.

We pledge to continue our efforts to advance a lasting global solution to the challenge of climate change.  We are pleased with the outcome of the climate conference in Durban, with respect to both operationalizing the Cancun agreements and laying the groundwork for a new legal agreement applicable to all Parties from 2020, support the activation of the Green Climate Fund, and underline the importance of climate finance and investment in the context of meaningful mitigation.  We plan to work together, including through the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, to secure a successful outcome at the 18th U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar.  We continue to advance the transition to a clean energy economy and cooperate to reduce global rates of deforestation and land degradation.   We also intend to deepen our trilateral cooperation and work with other interested partners to accelerate efforts aimed at reducing emissions of “short-lived climate pollutants,” noting the recently launched Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants in which we are all actively engaged.  Reducing our emissions of these substances, which include methane, black carbon, and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), offers significant opportunities to reduce the rate of global warming in the near term, in the context of our broader efforts to address climate change, while also yielding many health, agricultural productivity, and energy security benefits.

As our societies and economies become more reliant on networked technology, we recognize the growing importance of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet.   We reaffirm the importance of multi-stakeholder governance bodies for the Internet and underscore that fighting cybercrime is essential to promoting economic growth and international security.   We recognize the seminal contribution of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, and believe the Convention should be adopted as widely as possible.  To that end, we look forward to Canada’s ratification and Mexico’s completion of the necessary preparations for its signature of the Convention.

At the 2009 North American Leaders’ Summit, we committed to build upon our successful coordinated response to the H1N1 pandemic, which stands as a global example of cooperation, to jointly prepare for future animal and pandemic influenza to enhance the health and safety of our citizens.  Today we announce the culmination of that effort—the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI)—which provides a collaborative and multi-sectoral framework to strengthen our response to future animal and pandemic influenza events in North America and commit to its implementation.

All of our citizens are adversely affected by transnational organized crime.  We commit to direct our national efforts and deepen our cooperation against all facets of this common challenge based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect.  We intend to further share expertise and information and to cooperate in key areas such as countering arms trafficking and money laundering consistent with our laws and constitutions.

We are committed to strengthening security in the Americas through capacity building support.  We intend to enhance our cooperation with our partners in Central America.  In 2012, our governments will launch a consolidated Central America Integration System (SICA)-North America Security Dialogue to deepen regional security coordination and cooperation.   We will remain actively engaged in the ongoing SICA-Group of Friends of Central America collaborative process, to align international assistance and programs supporting the implementation of the Central American Regional Security Strategy.  We also welcome the recent High Level Hemispheric Meeting on Transnational Organized Crime, and recognize the relevance of closer collaboration and information sharing among all relevant national agencies.

We reiterate our commitment to Haiti and call upon Haitian political actors to work together and take concrete steps toward strengthening governance and the rule of law, which are fundamental to increased trade, investment, and long-term development and prosperity.  We note the urgency and importance of parliamentary confirmation of a new government, and for that government to confirm the timeline for Senate and local elections.  We also encourage Haiti to continue to pursue the development of the Haitian National Police so it can take full responsibility for Haiti’s security.

To further strengthen nuclear security on the North American continent, we worked together, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to convert the fuel in Mexico’s research reactor to low enriched uranium and provide new low enriched uranium fuel in exchange for the highly enriched uranium fuel, as pledged during the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 and announced at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012.

Our strengthened dialogue on priority issues in the North American agenda is reflected in the frequent formal and informal ministerial and technical meetings across a wide range of issues among our three countries, including the work of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission and the North American Commissions for Environmental Cooperation and for Labor Cooperation to continue to enhance our region’s prosperity, protect the environment, and improve working conditions in North America.  Taking into account our common security and defense challenges, such as transnational criminal organizations, as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the field of disaster relief, we welcome the recent expansion of our ministerial-level dialogue through the North American Defense Ministers Meeting held March 26-27, 2012 in Ottawa.

As partners in the Americas, we are committed to work together within the Inter-American System and in the framework of the VI Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena, Colombia.  We fully support the Summit’s theme of “Connecting the Americas:  Partners for Prosperity.”  The Summit provides an opportunity to leverage the ties that connect the Americas to advance democratic, transparent, accountable governance that promotes inclusive, sustainable, market-based economic growth in the decade ahead.  Deepening our shared interests and values will benefit the people of the Americas and bolster positive global engagement by countries from across the region.  We pledge to work together to ensure the Summit strengthens a shared commitment to work in equal partnership toward these goals.

In light of the importance of the Americas to our collective economic wellbeing, we are committed to working together to advance the principles approved by the Inter-American Competitiveness Network in Santo Domingo and to support the Pathways to Prosperity initiative which underscores the importance of empowering small businesses; facilitating trade; building a modern work force; and developing stronger labor and environmental practices to encourage inclusive economic growth.

We also recognize the value of our common understandings on the major challenges faced by the world today, and acknowledge the importance of promoting growth and of preserving and deepening trade as keys to the global economic recovery.  Canada and the United States support the efforts of the Mexican Presidency of the G-20 this year, and, together with Mexico, we commit ourselves to deepening our shared dialogue on economic governance therein, especially as we work to enhance North American competitiveness and prosperity.   The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provides an opportunity to further deepen our trade relationship and create jobs.  The United States welcomes Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the TPP as ambitious partners.

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper welcome President Calderon’s offer for Mexico to host the next North American Leaders’ Summit.

Joint Press Conference by President Obama, President Calderon of Mexico, and Prime Minister Harper of Canada

President Obama hosts the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs throughout North America.

President Obama holds a joint press conference
President Obama holds a joint press conference, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 4/2/12

Rose Garden

1:54 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon, everybody.  It is my pleasure to welcome two great friends and partners — President Calderón of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada.

Now, I’ve worked with Stephen and Felipe on many occasions.  We’ve joined our international partners from APEC to the G20.  From our last summit in Guadalajara, we remember Felipe’s hospitality and that of the Mexican people — including some very good mariachi and —

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Mexican food.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  — some tequila, if I’m not mistaken.  (Laughter.)  I can’t reciprocate the music, but, Felipe, Stephen and I are proud to welcome you here today.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you.

Between us, we represent nearly half-a-billion citizens, from Nunavut in the Canadian north to Chiapas in southern Mexico.  In between, the diversity of our peoples and cultures is extraordinary.  But wherever they live, they wake up every day with similar hopes — to provide for their families, to be safe in their communities, to give their children a better life.  And in each of our countries, the daily lives of our citizens are shaped profoundly by what happens in the other two.  And that’s why we’re here.

Today, we focused on our highest priority — creating jobs and opportunity for our people.  In the United States, our businesses have created nearly four million new jobs; confidence is up and the economy is getting stronger.  But with lots of folks still struggling to find work and pay the bills, we are doing everything we can to speed up the recovery.  And that includes boosting trade with our two largest economic partners.

As President, I’ve made it a priority to increase our exports, and I’m pleased that our exports to Canada and Mexico are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world.  In fact, last year trade in goods with our two neighbors surpassed $1 trillion — for the first time ever.  This trade supports some 2.5 million American jobs, and I want more trade supporting even more jobs in the future.

So today, Prime Minister Harper led us in a very good discussion about how our three countries can improve our competitiveness.  We agreed to continue making our borders more efficient and more secure so it’s faster and cheaper to travel and trade.  We’re expanding cooperation to create clean energy jobs and combat climate change — an area in which President Calderón and Mexico have been a real leader.

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation.  Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion.  And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis.  So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This is especially important, by the way, for our small and medium-sized businesses, which, when they start exporting, often start with Mexico and Canada.  So this is going to help create jobs, and it’s going to keep us on track to meet my goal of doubling U.S. exports.

More broadly, I reiterated my commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, which would be good for workers and good for business.  I’m pleased that Canada and Mexico have also expressed an interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Consultations with our TPP partners are now underway on how new members can meet the high standards of this trade agreement, which could be a real model for the world.  And I very much appreciated President Calderón updating us on preparations for the next G20 summit, which he will be hosting in June.

Our other major focus today was the security that our citizens deserve.  Criminal gangs and narco-traffickers pose a threat to each of our nations, and each of our nations has a responsibility to meet that threat.  In Mexico, President Calderón has shown great courage in standing up to the traffickers and cartels, and we’ve sped up the delivery of equipment and assistance to support those efforts.

Here in the United States, we’ve increased cooperation on our southern border, and dedicated new resources to reducing the southbound flow of money and guns, and to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States, which helps fuel — helped to fuel this crisis.  And today each of us reaffirmed our commitment to meeting this challenge together — because that’s the only way that we’re going to succeed.

Beyond our borders, these cartels and traffickers pose an extraordinary threat to our Central American neighbors.  So we’re teaming up.  Defense ministers from our three countries met last week as a group — for the first time ever.  And we’re going to be coordinating our efforts more closely than ever, especially when it comes to supporting Central America’s new strategy on citizen security, which will be discussed at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia next week.

So, again, I want to thank Stephen and Felipe for being here.  When I came to office I pledged to seek new partnerships with our friends in the Americas, a relationship of equality and shared responsibility built on mutual interest and mutual respect.  That’s what we’ve done.  And it wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership and sense of purpose that these two outstanding leaders have brought to all our efforts, including our efforts today.  As a result, I believe our nations and our citizens will be more secure, more prosperous and in a better position to give their children the lives that they deserve.

So with that, let me turn it over to President Calderón.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you, President Obama.  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, ladies and gentlemen of the press; Mr. Ambassadors; legislators; friends:  First of all, I would like to thank President Barack Obama for his extraordinary hospitality and that of his government in hosting this Summit of the Leaders of North America.

And briefly, I would also like to express on behalf of the government of Mexico, the people of Mexico, my family and my own behalf, my most sincere sympathies to the family and relatives of former President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado for his lamentable death yesterday.  Tomorrow we will be rendering homage to him in Mexico.

The reasons for which we are here today at this Summit of North American Leaders with President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada, we’ve come through a work day that has been very fruitful and fluid with an exchange of opinions and progress to the benefit of our respective citizens.

I’m also very thankful to my two colleagues for the openness with which we have broached some very complex items on our working agenda.  I recognize and value their enormous commitment to our common region.

The leaders of North America share a vision of a strong, solidary, safe, competitive region that is able to successfully face head on the challenges of today.  We agree that our common challenges can only be faced together.  And therein lays the importance of having dialogue, strong dialogue, amongst our three countries.

The data that President Obama has just given us is very important, that our trade has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.  And I think that that is not separate from a reality that has to be underscored.  In this very complex world full of economic problems and severe crises, Canada, the United States and Mexico are three countries that are growing right now and generating jobs today.

And that growth and those millions of jobs, many of them have to do precisely with the greatest trade exchanges that we have ever seen amongst these great nations.  I would say that the potential of North America tied to these three countries is such that within our own nations we have a great deal to do to make the most of these opportunities for greater exchanges amongst our peoples.

As we’ve mentioned today, we have progressed on various fronts.  For instance, we’ve advanced on the deregulation in our countries — in our own countries, as well as amongst our countries.  We have progressed as well in harmonization of certain standards that facilitate trade.  We’ve also progressed, in our case, on the bilateral relationship in border infrastructure.  And all of this has led, of course, to the benefit of Canadian, Mexican and American families.

Another line of ideas, I would also say that the three nations have renewed their decision to strengthen cooperation at the international level, particularly in issues as sensitive as the security of our citizens.  We have reiterated the values upon which our societies were founded:  democracy, liberty, justice, the respect for human rights.  And today the political dialogue amongst us is perhaps stronger than ever.

We have renewed certain principles of our existence and of our challenges:  The principle of shared responsibility, the exchange of information, and especially the strengthening of our institutions that has to be the guide of our cooperation.

Clearly, I expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that the fight that Mexico is experiencing for a safer North America also requires a strengthening of national actions, amongst other things, to stop the traffic of weapons, to combat with greater strength money laundering, and, of course, to reduce the demand for drugs that strengthens criminal organizations.  I also expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that Mexico recognizes the commitment that they have undertaken to progress along those lines.

It’s also necessary to strengthen the regional security focus, and in order to do this, we need to include our neighbors and Central American partners, who are also facing serious problems and who need our solidarity.  The three countries have agreed to establish a joint dialogue mechanism with the Central American Integration System — SICA — in support of the efforts undertaken by Central American nations to fight organized crime and in favor of regional security that benefits us all.

Of course, in this meeting, we have broached the topic of the regional economy.  The leaders of North America agree that the United States, Canada and Mexico must continue to delve deeper into our successful economic relationship so as to generate more jobs and greater well-being in all three countries.

Our governments recognize that it is absolutely necessary to continue to fully comply with the NAFTA, as well as to explore new means of strengthening regional competitiveness.  And I am convinced that if we work together, we will become much more competitive than many areas of the world that we are competing with today.

Mexico’s position is that the solution to the complex economic situation experienced by the world today is not a return to protectionist practices that only isolate countries, reduce competitiveness of economies, and send investment scurrying, but that part of the problem and part of the investment that we need to see in the world economy is to see a delving deeper into our economies and making the most of our advantages that show our economic complementarity in terms of investment, labor, technologies, natural resources.  And only then will we be able to have success in a world that competes ferociously by regions.

The three countries have renewed our commitment to broaden the productive — the supply chains of the region that will be even more interconnected, supporting especially the small and medium-scale companies.

Mexican exports to the world represent 37 percent of — or have, rather, 37 percent of American content.  In other words, so American exports are American exports, and they generate millions of jobs for the region.  And in that lays the need to work even more in this region on a clear trilateral deregulation, for instance, in nanomaterials and emissions standards for some vehicles.

Today we also agreed to work in a coordinated fashion on actions that we will be adopting to modernize infrastructure and for border management.  After 10 years — the last two years, we’ve seen three new border crossing areas between Mexico and the United States, after 10 years not having seen one new route.  And we continue to work in a coordinated fashion to make our border more dynamic so that it’s a border of opportunities for progress on both sides of that border.

Tomorrow, here in Washington, our ministers of economy and of trade will be meeting within the framework of the Free Trade Commission of the NAFTA so as to continue to work towards achieving these objectives.

Today, we’ve seen that prosperity in the region depends on greater integration with full respect of our sovereignties in all fields.  And in this context, I’d like to reiterate the interest of my country to join forces as soon as possible to the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and its negotiations.  Because we know that Mexicans can contribute to a quick and successful conclusion of this project.  If we join forces in this region where we see the greatest growth in the world, we will be generating benefits for our families, our workers, and also substantially improving the competitiveness of the three countries in this context.

We are convinced that the experience and participation of Mexico will enrich this free trade project of the latest generation that encompasses countries in Asia, Oceania, and America.  Our country has a clear commitment to economic freedom.  We even have the support of the private sector so as to enter into the TPP.  We are a nation that believes in free trade as a true tool to foster growth and development, and we have acted as a result of this.

I would also like to thank the United States and Canada for renewing their support to Mexico and its presidency of G20.  As you know, in June of this year Mexico will host the summit of the leaders of the G20 in Los Cabos.  We are convinced, over and above the topics that we will be dealing with there, that the complex international environment needs to be an opportunity so that the world can redefine its development models with a firm commitment to the well-being of peoples and the care for the environment.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this summit, the representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico have undertaken an open, constructive dialogue, just as corresponds to countries that share values.  We’ve talked about the enormous challenges facing us so as to work together in a globalized world.  And as a result, we will be working on building a new era that consolidates the right conditions for development in North America on the basis of a successful partnership, as we have seen so far today.

My dear President Obama, thank you for your hospitality.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. Harper.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, first of all, I’d like to begin by thanking you, Barack, for so graciously and so warmly  — literally — hosting us here today.  And I’d also like to begin by offering my sincere condolences to you, Felipe, and through you, to the people of Mexico on the passing of former President Miguel de la Madrid, who I gather had much to do with the NAFTA partnership that we enjoy today.

Canada places the highest the value on the friendship and partnership among our three countries.  We form one of the world’s largest free trade zones, which has been of great benefit to all of our nations.  We’re also effective collaborators in the G20, in responding to the challenges of the global recession and instability of these past few years.

As affirmed in our budget last week, our government is focused on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

I’m especially pleased that the United States has welcomed Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We also had useful discussions on continued cooperation in managing our borders, streamlining regulation, securing global supply chains, and advancing clean energy.

In addition, we’ve announced a broadened plan for North American pandemic preparedness, and a new North America-Central America dialogue on security to fight transnational organized crime.

Finally, we discussed the agenda for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia.  Canada looks forward to continue to working with the United States and Mexico to promote democratic principles, regional stability, and market-based economic growth with our partners in the Western Hemisphere.

And once again, Barack and Felipe, I look forward to continuing our useful discussions in Cartagena.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Outstanding.

All right, I think that we’re going to take a question from each press delegation.  So I’ll start with Julianna.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  After last week’s arguments at the Supreme Court, many experts believe that there could be a majority, a five-member majority, to strike down the individual mandate.  And if that were to happen, if it were to be ruled unconstitutional, how would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who’ve become insured as a result of the law?

And then a President for President Calderón and Prime Minister Harper.  Over the weekend, Governor Mitt Romney said that the U.S. used to promote free enterprise around the world, and he said, “Our President doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do, and I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.”  My question to the both of you is whether you think that American influence has declined over the last three to four years.

And, President Obama, if you’d like to respond to that, too.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, on the second part of your question, it’s still primary season for the Republican Party.  They’re going to make a decision about who their candidate will be.

It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism, and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.  But I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination.

With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.  And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.  That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.

I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument.  People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.

The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.  There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law.  Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition.  That’s part of this law.

Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law.  Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law.

So that’s just the part that’s already been implemented.  That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.

Q    You say it’s not an abstract conversation.  Do you have contingency plans?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’m sorry.  As I said, we are confident that this will be over — that this will be upheld.  I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.  And, again, that’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  Your question was a little local for me, and so I’m glad that the President of the United States answered it.  But I would take advantage of this moment to say that after increasing the budget line for the folk insurance six-fold, and after having built more than 1,000 new clinics in the country, we’re getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care — full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage.  Of the 112 million Mexicans, 106 million will have efficient, effective universal health care coverage.

So I would say that I would hope that one of the greatest economies in the world, such as the United States, could follow our example in achieving this, because it was a great thing.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, I don’t think you really expect me to intervene in the U.S. presidential election.  Let me just say this.  For Canada — and this is something that I think transcends governments in Canada or administrations here in the United States — for Canada, the United States is and always will be our closest neighbor, our greatest ally and our best friend.  And I believe that American leadership is at all times great and indispensable for the world.

And I think over the past few years we’ve done great things together in terms of the response both through the G20 and bilaterally on the recession and the recovery.  We had, under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya.  Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing.  And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Somebody from the Mexican press corps.

Q    Good afternoon.  For President Calderón, you were saying — you were referring to weapons.  We’d like to know what President Obama said in terms of what’s going to be done to stop the traffic of weapons.

And, President Obama, I’d like to know what plans your government has in the presidential election process in Mexico.  What was discussed in terms of the interviews with the candidates in Mexico City?  And I’d also like to know, for the government of the United States, there’s a threat for the country in this sense on weapons, Mr. President.  Weapons have come into the country.  Are there military leaks of letting the arms come through?  What’s going to be done?

And for Prime Minister Harper, is the visa requirement going to be removed for Mexicans?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s a lot of questions.  (Laughter.)  Go ahead, go first.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  My position on this subject is very clear, and I would repeat it here.  Let me broach it from another angle.  It’s been shown that when there is an excessive, quick availability of weapons in any given society, there is an increase in violence and the murders that goes on many years afterwards.

This phenomenon took place in many places of Africa after their civil wars.  We’ve see in El Salvador, Guatemala, in Eastern Europe, in Kosovo, in Bosnia.  It’s happened — it’s taken place in many different areas of the world.  And we sustain that the expiry of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest period of violence we’ve ever seen.

During my government, we have seized over 140,000 weapons in four years.  And I think that the vast majority have been assault weapons — AK-47s, et cetera.  And many, the vast majority of these weapons were sold in gun shops in the United States.  Along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, there are approximately 8,000 weapons shops.  If we do our accounts, that means that there are approximately nine weapons stores for each Walmart that exists in the United States and Mexico.

So a good deal of our discussion did touch upon this.  But I recognize, at the same time, the administrative effort that’s been undertaken, particularly by President Obama and his administration, so that the agencies for control of illegal actions curb this export of guns and weapons to Mexico.  We’ve seen a much more active effort in this sense than in any other time in the past.

I have a great deal of respect for the U.S. legislation, especially the Second Amendment.  But I know that if we don’t stop the traffic of weapons into Mexico, also if we don’t have mechanisms to forbid the sale of weapons, such as we had in the ‘90s, or for registry of guns, at least for assault weapons, then we are never going to be able to stop the violence in Mexico or stop a future turning of those guns upon the U.S.

So if I am against the traffic of weapons in Mexico, I’m against the traffic of weapons anywhere, be that within any circumstance.  The government of Mexico will never be able to accept anything that has to do with opening this.

President Obama has been very clear on the position of his government.  We understand the work being done by the agencies to stop the criminals.  But this cannot be an obstacle to the cooperation that we have to have amongst Mexico and the United States to stop these criminal activities that underlie this issue, which is one of the greatest obstacles and problems for Mexico.

I understand the internal problems from a political point of view in the United States, and I mentioned this publicly in Congress in the United States, and I said things exactly the way I believe them.  I said them outright.  There’s a great deal of discrepancy between points of view.  It’s a very complex political issue.  But it is very important to underscore it.

And I believe that’s the only part of the question that I can answer, and I would say that what President Obama has already answered was very well done.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just very briefly, with respect to the presidential elections in Mexico, Vice President Biden met with the candidates to express sentiments that are similar to the ones that Stephen just expressed here with respect to U.S. elections.  And that is that the friendship between our three countries, the partnership between our three countries, extends beyond and is more fundamental than any particular party or any particular election.  And that’s the message we have to send with respect to Mexico.

I’ve had a excellent working relationship with Felipe.  I expect to have an excellent working relationship with the next Mexican President, whoever that candidate may be, because the underlying common interests that we have economically, socially, culturally, the people-to-people relationship that we have, is so important that it transcends partisan politics.

And with respect to the issue of guns, I’ve made very clear in every meeting that I’ve had with Felipe — and we’ve actually put into practice efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking North to South.  It is a difficult task, but it’s one that we have taken very seriously and taken some unprecedented steps.  We will continue to coordinate closely with the Mexican government because we recognize the toll that it’s taken with respect to families and innocent individuals inside of Mexico.

And this is part of our broader comprehensive cooperation in weakening the grip of narco-trafficking within Mexico.  And we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce demand for drugs, that we have a responsibility to make sure that not only guns, but also bulk cash isn’t flowing into Mexico.  And I — obviously President Calderón takes very seriously his responsibilities to apply effective law enforcement within Mexico.  And I think he’s taken courageous steps to do that.

So we’re going to keep on partnering together in order to continue to make progress on this very important issue.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  You asked me about the visa requirement.  The visa requirement is the really only effective means we have in Canada today to deal with large-scale bogus refugee claims under our refugee determination system.

Legislation that is being implemented — and in fact, there’s legislation before parliament to enhance those changes  — that legislation will in the future, in years to come, will give us tools other than visa requirement to deal with that particular problem.  But as of today that remains the only tool at our disposal.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  And finally from —

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Yes.  Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News.

Q    Hello, gentlemen.  I have a couple of questions on two critical issues that you were discussing today — one on trade and one on crime.  On trade, Prime Minister Harper, why is Canada’s position at the negotiating table on the Trans-Pacific Partnership so important to Canada?  And secondly, to get us there, to be a player, are you willing to give up as a precondition our supply management system?

And, President Obama, you said earlier that there needs to be high standards for a country to be there.  I’m wondering whether you think, yet, Canada has met those high standards — whether you want us to drop our traditional supply management system.

And on crime, we in Canada read about the challenges that Mexico has on the drug cartels and the horrible violence that occurs down there.  But perhaps it’s possible that many Canadians, and perhaps even Americans, don’t see it as affecting their lives — perhaps it doesn’t affect their communities.  So on that issue, why do you three gentlemen think that a three-country coordinated approach is necessary to protect our citizens?

And, Prime Minister, I think you being the only person that can speak both English and French, if you can do that, please.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Sure.  First of all, in response to the question on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this is — our desire to be part of that negotiation is part of Canada’s ambitious trade agenda.  As you know, we are currently in negotiations with over 50 countries around the world, including the European Union and Japan and India.  So this was obviously a logical extension of our desire, the desire of our government to dramatically broaden our free trade relationships around the world.

Canada’s position on Trans-Pacific Partnership is the same as our position in any trade negotiation.  We expect to negotiate and debate all manner of issues, and we seek ambitious outcomes to free trade agreements.  In those negotiations, of course, Canada will attempt to promote and to defend Canada’s interest not just across the economy but in individual sectors as well.

On the question of security, look, the security problems are — the security challenge, particularly around the drug trade, is a serious regional problem throughout our hemisphere that has real impacts — not the kind of governance and security impacts we see maybe in Central America and the Caribbean and elsewhere — but has real, serious impacts on the health and safety of communities in our country as well.  And as these criminal networks are transnational, it’s important that our attempts to fight them be equally transnational.  And that’s why we work together on these initiatives.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, with respect to the TPP, as is true of any process of arriving at a trade agreement, every country that’s participating is going to have to make some modifications.  That’s inherent in the process, because each of our countries have their idiosyncrasies; certain industries that have in the past been protected; certain practices that may be unique to that country but end up creating disadvantages for businesses from other countries.  And so it’s a process of everybody making adjustments.

I don’t think Canada would be unique in that.  Are there areas where we’d like to see some changes in terms of Canadian practices?  Of course.  I assure you that Canada will have some complaints directed at us, and every member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership eventually would have to make some modifications in order to accommodate the larger interest of growing the overall economy and expanding trade and ultimately jobs.  So I don’t anticipate that there’s something unique about Canada that wouldn’t be true for any of the other aspirants to forming this Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With respect to the transnational drug trade, first and foremost, I think we should be concerned about what’s happening in Mexico and Central America because when you have innocent families and women and children who are being gunned down on the streets, that should be everybody’s problem, not just our problem — not just their problem.

There’s a sense of neighborly regard and concern that has to be part of our calculus and our foreign policy.  But more practically, the United States shares a border with Mexico.  If you have this kind of violence and the power of the drug trade as a whole expanding in countries that are so closely affiliated with us — in Central American countries — if you start getting a larger and larger space in which they have control over serious chunks of the economy, if they’re undermining institutions in these countries, that will impact our capacity to do business in these countries.  It could have a spillover effect in terms of our nationals who are living in those countries, tourists that are visiting these countries.  It could have a deteriorating effect overall on the nature of our relationship.  And that’s something that we have to pay attention to.

And, as I said, I think the Mexican government has taken this very seriously at great cost to itself.  We have an obligation to take it just as seriously, in part because we are the ultimate destination for a large chunk of this market.

And that — Stephen and I were trading notes — in places like the United States and Canada, this is not just an issue of — that traditionally was very urban.  This is disseminated across our communities.  And you go into rural communities and you’ve got methamphetamine sales that are devastating young and old alike, and some of that is originally sourced in Mexico.  And so even in the remotest, most isolated parts of Canada or the United States, they’re being impacted by this drug trade, and we’ve got to work cooperatively in order to deal with it.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  And I’d like to look at it from another standpoint.  The security of North America is absolutely tied to each of its member states.  There cannot be full security in this country or in Canada or in Mexico if we do not have a system that actually enables the cooperation mechanisms to act in facing threats that have no borders, that are transnational by their very nature.  And these are threats that are not just tied into drug trafficking, which is transnational of course.

And I’ll give you two examples of success stories that I was mentioning this morning.  One, the attempt to take to Mexico one of the children of Qaddafi — one of Qaddafi’s children.  This implied an international and very North American operation because it was headed up by a Canadian businesswoman who hired an American company, which hired, in turn, Mexican pilots and counterfeiters.  And this multinational operation could have been — would not have been avoided without the international security mechanisms that we didn’t have before, but that now we have.

Also, being able to avoid the assassination of the Saudi ambassador here in Washington would not have been possible without the mechanisms and cooperation that we have today.

So thinking that what happens in Mexico doesn’t have anything to do with the security of the citizens of this country or of any other citizen of North America is a mistake.  We have to understand that we are all tied to one another.

Now, security, understood in the regional sense — in order to understand that, we have to understand where the greatest threats to security actually lay.  The United States has a clear idea of its threat, of its security priorities, its threats of terrorism, of international terrorism, terrible attacks on the U.S. people.  Another threat clearly is in the power of transnational organized crime, which I insist is not crime or organizations that are strictly Mexican in nature.  They don’t have a nationality, and they don’t operate in just one country.  They’re probably operating right here in this city.

In Washington, for instance, the number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants is higher by 10 — more than 10 or 20 than the largest number in any of the big cities in Mexico.  These are international organizations that have a growing destructive capacity, that act well beyond borders and threaten anyone, anywhere.

It is true, the efforts that we undertake clearly make it possible to contain that threat and to prevent it from acting in society — not just in the United States or Canada, but even in Mexico.  And that explains why, for instance, despite the perception of my country, last year 23 million tourists came to our country by plane, plus another 7 million in cruise ships, plus another 50 million who crossed the border, the land borders.

So that’s also why there are 2 million Mexicans living comfortably in Mexico, and many more living also here who came to visit us here and wanted to see us in the White House.  And that’s also why 1.6 million Canadians come to Mexico every year.  So that’s 5 percent of the Canadian population that travels to Mexico every year.

And that also explains why, despite the fact that a state such as Texas recommends that none of its young people should travel to anywhere in Mexico, that’s why there are hundreds of thousands of young Texans who go to Mexico, enjoy it, and why we haven’t seen one single incident with U.S. spring-breakers in Mexico this past spring, for instance.

Great concern, because these are multinational criminal organizations and the mechanisms, of course, to face them, to defeat them, have to be multinational.  In addition to the solidarity — expressions of solidarity of President Obama, who says that he cannot stand aside from the expressions of threat that is facing a neighbor of his, vulnerability from an institutional point of view in Mexico and Central America is an issue that also impacts and jeopardizes all of the citizens of North America.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everyone.

END
2:44 P.M. EDT

History Buzz November 27, 2011: Eliot Cohen: Canada won the War of 1812, U.S. historian admits

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY NEWS — 1812 BICENTENNIAL

Source: National Post, 11-27-11

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

Geoff Robins/Postmedia News

A War of 1812 re-enactment at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London, Ontario. Which side won the war has been long disputed.

In a relatively rare admission for an American scholar, a leading U.S. historian who authored a provocative new tome about North American military conflicts states bluntly that Canada won the War of 1812.

Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot Cohen, a senior adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, writes in his just-published book Conquered Into Liberty that, “ultimately, Canada and Canadians won the War of 1812.”

And Cohen acknowledges that, “Americans at the time, and, by and large, since, did not see matters that way.”

The book also echoes a key message trumpeted by the federal Conservative government in recent weeks as it unveiled ambitious plans to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 over the next three years: that the successful fight by British, English- and French-Canadian and First Nations allies to resist would-be American conquerors — at battles such as Queenston Heights in Upper Canada and Chateauguay in Lower Canada — set the stage for the creation of a unified and independent Canada a half-century later.

“If the conquest of (Canada) had not been an American objective when the war began, it surely had become such shortly after it opened,” Cohen argues in the book. “Not only did the colony remain intact: It had acquired heroes, British and French, and a narrative of plucky defense against foreign invasion, that helped carry it to nationhood.”

In an interview with Postmedia News, Cohen observed that, “all countries have to have these myths — not in the sense of falsehoods, but really compelling stories that are, in fact, rooted in some kind of truth, even if they’re not the complete truth.

“And the War of 1812 gives Canada that,” he continued. “It gives you some foundation myths. It gives you Laura Secord. It gives you heroes.”

Cohen, who advised the Bush Administration on geopolitical strategy from 2007 to 2009, said the War of 1812 “was the last point at which the United States thought really seriously about trying to take Canada by force of arms.”

It’s clear, he added, that “there were a lot of senior American leaders who thought the outcome of the war would be the forcible annexation of Canada — thinking, not entirely without reason, that there would be some segment of the (Canadian) population that would welcome that.”…READ MORE

Related

History Buzz November 22, 2011: Catherine Emerson: American historian likens Laura Secord’s heroism to ‘Sunday walk’ praises American heroine Betsy Doyle

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY NEWS

A U.S. historian who unearthed new evidence about the life of a War of 1812 heroine from New York has dismissed Laura Secord’s famous midnight dash to save Canada from invasion as a mere “Sunday walk” in the woods compared to the exploits of Betsy Doyle, her American counterpart.

Catherine Emerson, official historian for Niagara County north of Buffalo, has unravelled a 200-year-old mystery surrounding Doyle, known to War of 1812 experts as the wife of a captured American artillery officer who bravely threw herself into the fighting but then disappeared from the historical record.

Doyle — better known by the given name “Fanny” because of a 19th-century scribe’s erroneous writings — earned a respectable footnote in U.S. military history after briefly assuming her husband’s role in the war and loading red-hot cannonballs into Fort Niagara’s guns during a fierce November 1812 battle against allied British, Canadian and First Nations troops….READ MORE

A War of 1812 mystery has been solved by historians

A nearly 200-year-old missing-person case has been solved by the Niagara County historian’s office.

Historian Catherine L. Emerson told the County Legislature this week that she and her staff have traced the post-War of 1812 whereabouts of Betsy Doyle, a local heroine of the war.

Doyle was lionized for hauling red-hot cannonballs to gunners at Fort Niagara during a November 1812 cannon duel with the British forces in Fort George on the other side of the Niagara River.

However, no one seemed to know what happened to her after that.

Emerson discovered that Doyle, with her four children in tow, survived what could have been a winter death march across New York State after Fort Niagara fell to the British in December 1813….READ MORE

Political Highlights May 22, 2011: Obama Addresses AIPAC — Reaffirms His Position on Israel’s 1967 Borders — Canada Objects, Palin, & Gingrich Criticize

POLITICAL HIGHLIGHTS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

THE HEADLINES….

  • Obama to AIPAC: Israelis, Palestinians should negotiate a new border: President Obama said his call for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on the pre-1967 lines did not mean the future state of Palestine would have those exact borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said on Sunday morning to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”
    Last week, Obama said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks should be based on the pre-’67 lines, with mutually agreed swaps. He also said the difficult issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees should be deferred for later. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called such borders “indefensible.”
    “If there is a controversy, it’s not based on substance,” Obama said Sunday. “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”… – JTA, 5-22-11
  • Obama Challenges Israel to Make Hard Choices: President Obama struck back at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday, defending his stance that talks over a Palestinian state should be focused on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, along with negotiated land swaps, and challenging Israel to “make the hard choices” necessary to bring about a stable peace.
    Mr. Obama, speaking before a conference of the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee, offered familiar assurances that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s long-term security was “ironclad.” But citing the rising political upheaval near Israel’s borders, he presented his peace plan as the best chance Israel has to avoid growing isolation.
    “We cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace,” Mr. Obama said. The world, he said, “is moving too fast.”
    Administration officials said it would be up to Mr. Obama, during an economic summit in Paris next weekend, to try to talk his European counterparts out of endorsing Palestinian statehood in a coming United Nations vote, a prospect that would deeply embarrass Israel. Some French officials have already indicated that they are leaning toward such an endorsement.
    “He basically said, ‘I can continue defending you to the hilt, but if you give me nothing to work with, even America can’t save you,’ ” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator and a fellow at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group.
    The appearance by Mr. Obama on Sunday punctuated a tense week in which he and Mr. Netanyahu made their separate cases about Palestinian statehood to American audiences. Mr. Netanyahu will address the same group on Monday and will speak before Congress on Tuesday at the invitation of Republican lawmakers…. – NYT, 5-22-11
  • Obama seeks to reassure Israel on Mideast policy in speech at AIPAC conference: President Obama sought to reassure Israel and its supporters of “ironclad” U.S. support Sunday in a speech to a Jewish lobbying group that also warned that time could be running out for a peace accord with Palestinians.
    Obama, wading afresh into a topic that evoked anger from Israeli leaders last week, insisted again that 1967 boundary lines should be the starting point for talks on a new Palestinian state. But he allowed that the dividing line would be negotiated to accommodate Israeli settlements and security needs.
    “Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) at its annual conference in Washington.
    While sticking to the views he outlined in a Middle East policy speech Thursday, Obama more clearly aligned his position on borders to one espoused by the George W. Bush administration in 2004. The Bush White House had concluded that a return to the precise boundaries that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War was “not realistic,” because of the presence of large Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
    Acknowledging that Israel faced “hard choices” and security risks, Obama argued that stalling on peace negotiations posed even greater dangers for the country’s survival. The Arab Spring movement and changing demographic forces — including growing numbers of Palestinians west of the Jordan River — present long-term challenges to Israel that will be resolved only by the creation of separate homelands for Jews and Palestinians, he said.
    “No matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option,” he said. “The status quo is unsustainable.”
    “No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction,” he said.
    Obama said he was not surprised by the uproar over his Thursday speech but added that “if there is controversy, it is not based on substance.”
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” he said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.:”… – WaPo, 5-22-11
  • Obama to AIPAC: I won’t back down on Israel-Palestine border issue: Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, President Obama repeated his position that Israel-Palestine peace negotiations must acknowledge the 1967 borders as a starting point. But he also emphasized that US commitment to Israel’s security is ‘ironclad.’
    President Obama is not backing down on how to solve the Israel-Palestine border issue in achieving peace in the Middle East.
    Speaking Sunday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – which identifies itself as America’s leading pro-Israel lobby – Obama reiterated his stance: Any negotiation has to begin by acknowledging the 1967 borders before the Six-Day War in which Israel occupied land in Jordan, Syria, and Egypt.
    Speaking to AIPAC Sunday, Obama sought to clarify what he had meant on Thursday regarding the 1967 borders.
    “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” Obama said. “It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides.”
    “The ultimate goal is two states for two people,” he said, “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people – and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people – each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”… – CS Monitor, 5-22-11
  • Mideast Obama restates call for ‘1967 lines’ in Israeli-Palestinian talks: Unwilling to retreat from Benjamin Netanyahu’s angry outbursts, Barack Obama warned thousands of ardent pro-Israelis that finding a lasting peace with Palestinians begins with Israel’s pre-1967 frontiers.
    The U.S. President’s tone was soothing and his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee placatory, but he didn’t budge from his statement last week that has sparked a furor and the remarkable spectacle of an Israeli prime minister publicly disputing an American president in the Oval Office.
    As Mr. Obama reiterated Sunday, it remains the obvious – if not explicitly stated position by any previous president – that negotiating boundaries for a Palestinian state begins with Israel’s frontiers before the lightning war of June 1967, when Israel defeated Egypt, Syria and Jordan, seizing and occupying the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the revered walled city of old Jerusalem.
    “If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance,” Mr. Obama said, added that he has said nothing new or startling, although his reference to “1967 lines” drew scattered boos from the audience that has been explicitly told to respectively receive speakers, even if they disagree.
    “It was my reference to the 1967 lines – with mutually agreed swaps – that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now,” Mr. Obama said. He said his position has been “misrepresented” although he didn’t call out Mr. Netanyahu – who will deliver his own version of the way forward Monday to the 10,000-plus AIPAC at the most powerful pro-Israeli group’s annual convention. (The blunt-speaking Israeli leader – whose relationship with Mr. Obama has ranged from distant to frosty – will give a speech Tuesday to a joint session of Congress.)
    “What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace.” “Delay will undermine security,” he added…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Obama Quotes Talmud at AIPAC, Tells Hamas “Release Shalit”: In an address aimed at placating his disgruntled Jewish supporters, President Barack Obama told his audience of over 10,000 at the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday that “a strong and secure Israel is in the interest of the United States and the bond between our two vibrant democracies must be nurtured.”
    He maintained that he did not say anything fundamentally new in his Thursday speech, when he mentioned the “1967 borders” as a basis for future peace
    Taking intense criticism from pro-Israel supporters since then, when he called for Israel to negotiate a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, he sought to heal wounds by enumerating actions taken by the US to foster Israel’s security…. – Virtual Jerusalem Post, 5-22-11
  • Obama, at AIPAC, takes on the 1967 borders issue: An interesting morning at the AIPAC policy conference. Then again, how could it not be with President Barack Obama addressing more than 10,000 participants only days after giving a major policy address on the Middle East?
    I half expected a purely political speech, reaffirming his strong support for Israel, using key slogans like Israel’s qualitative military edge and banging away at Iran, and avoiding his call the other day for peace negotiations kith the Palestinians based on the 1967, with negotiated land swaps.
    In an almost stern tone, he referred to how his comments have been “misrepresented” – presumably by those pro-Israel activists who say he called for a return to the exact borders of 1967, which polite critics call “indefensible” and less polite ones call “Auschwitz borders.”
    He said that “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means that “the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.”
    Then, an almost chiding tone: “If there’s a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.”
    His core argument: with the winds of change sweeping across the Arab world, with growing attempts to delegitimize Israel – which he promised his administration would “steadfastly” oppose – and with the Palestinian effort to bypass direct negotiations with its UN General Assembly gambit, the “status quo is unsustainable” and time is running out…. – The NY Jewish Week, 5-22-11
  • Protests Break Out at AIPAC During Obama’s Speech: KnightNews.com has a crew in Washington D.C. where protests against Israeli and US foreign policy are breaking out outside the AIPAC convention.
    KnightNews.com ilive streamed video of the protests, and we have concluded the live stream to go inside the conference and get video interviews with the other side. An updated video story with both sides will be posted as soon as possible. The protests came before, during and after US President Barack Obama spoke at the conference…. – Knight News, 5-22-11
  • ’67 lines not top Mideast peace hurdle: US lawmaker: Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist remains the primary impasse for Mideast peace, and not the recently revised dispute over territorial lines, the Republican US House majority leader said Sunday.
    Representative Eric Cantor, the most senior Jewish member in House history, also told the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference that it was time for the Arab world and Palestinians in particular to stop “scapegoating” Israel and to earn their statehood by renouncing violence.
    A Palestinian “culture infused with resentment and hatred” over the Jewish state is stymieing the peace process, which has all but frozen in recent months, and whose future is in turmoil with the Palestinian Authority recently signing a unity pact with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist group.
    “It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” Cantor said told some 10,000 delegates at AIPAC’s annual policy conference.
    “This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ’67 lines,” he said to a rousing standing ovation.
    “And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.”… – AFP, 5-22-11
  • Several GOP presidential hopefuls to attend AIPAC Conference: As President Barack Obama’s Mideast speech this week came under fire from many in the Republican Party for not being supportive enough of Israel, several GOP prospective presidential candidates will be appearing this week at a major event sponsored by a key American Israeli lobbying organization.
    Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, businessman Herman Cain and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will attend a policy conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Ari Goldberg, a spokesman for the group, confirmed to CNN.
    Obama will be making his first appearance as president before an AIPAC event when he addresses the conference Sunday morning. Several leading members of Congress are also scheduled to speak at the event…. – CNN, 5-21-11
  • Palin slams Obama, supports Israel: Former Alaska governor says US should defend Israel against enemies, adds her primary goal is to make sure Obama not reelected
    Former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin slammed Barack Obama’s Mideast policy speech, saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    In an interview for Fox News on Saturday, Palin went on to speak in support of the Jewish state: “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times,” she said. “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our enemies in Israel.
    “More than ever we should be standing strong with Israel and saying ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she added.
    She continued to attack Obama, saying his foreign policy “really makes no sense.”
    “I’m going to call him our temporary leader because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said.
    Palin, who has yet to decide whether to run for president in the coming elections, wasn’t the only Republican to express disapproval of Obama following his tense weekend meeting with Netanyahu.
    Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and a prominent contender for the Republican presidential nomination, said that Obama “threw Israel under the bus.”
    “He has disrespected Israel and undermined its ability to negotiate peace,” Romney said.
    Tim Pawlenty, another Republican presidential hopeful, called Obama’s demand for Israel to return to 1967 borders a “disaster waiting to happen.”… – YNet News, 5-22-11
  • Ottawa won’t back Obama’s Mideast peace proposal: The Harper government is refusing to join the United States in calling for a return to 1967 borders as a starting point for Mideast peace, a position that has drawn sharp criticism from Canada’s staunch ally Israel.
    At a briefing ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in France, federal officials said the basis for the negotiations must be mutually agreed upon.
    Israel quickly rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal for the talks to be guided by the 1967 borders, with mutually agreed land swaps.
    “What the government of Canada supports is basically a two-state solution that is negotiated,” a senior federal official said. “If it’s border, if it’s others issues, it has to be negotiated, it cannot be unilateral action.”
    Pressed by reporters, federal officials said both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to decide on their bottom lines, which the Israelis have said will not include a return to the 1967 border.
    “If the two parties are of the view that this is a starting point, that is fine for them,” said the federal official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
    The Prime Minister’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, added that Canada’s position continues to be the search for a two-state solution.
    “No solution, ultimately, is possible without both parties sitting down, negotiating and agreeing on what that final outcome will look like,” he said…. – The Globe & Mail, 5-22-11
  • Israel ‘approves new West Bank settler homes’: Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has approved the construction of 294 new homes in Beitar Ilit settlement on the occupied West Bank, anti-settlement NGO Peace Now reported on Sunday.
    It also said that work had started on more than 2,000 settler homes since the end in September of Israel’s 10-month freeze on Jewish construction on Palestinian land.
    Peace Now made its announcement as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington preparing to address the US Congress and a powerful pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
    It said Barak has also approved building of homes for the elderly and a shopping centre in the settlement of Efrat…. – AFP, 5-22-11

QUOTES

  • Remarks by the President at the AIPAC Policy Conference 2011 Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C.: THE PRESIDENT: ….Now, I’m not here to subject you to a long policy speech. I gave one on Thursday in which I said that the United States sees the historic changes sweeping the Middle East and North Africa as a moment of great challenge, but also a moment of opportunity for greater peace and security for the entire region, including the State of Israel.
    On Friday, I was joined at the White House by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and we reaffirmed — (applause) — we reaffirmed that fundamental truth that has guided our presidents and prime ministers for more than 60 years — that even while we may at times disagree, as friends sometimes will, the bonds between the United States and Israel are unbreakable — (applause) — and the commitment of the United States to the security of Israel is ironclad. (Applause.)
    A strong and secure Israel is in the national security interest of the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, although we do both seek a region where families and children can live free from the threat of violence. It’s not simply because we face common dangers, although there can be no denying that terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons are grave threats to both our nations.
    America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place — and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds, we understand that preserving the security for which our forefathers — and foremothers — fought must be the work of every generation. As two vibrant democracies, we recognize that the liberties and freedoms we cherish must be constantly nurtured. And as the nation that recognized the State of Israel moments after its independence, we have a profound commitment to its survival as a strong, secure homeland for the Jewish people. (Applause.)
    We also know how difficult that search for security can be, especially for a small nation like Israel living in a very tough neighborhood. I’ve seen it firsthand. When I touched my hand against the Western Wall and placed my prayer between its ancient stones, I thought of all the centuries that the children of Israel had longed to return to their ancient homeland. When I went to Sderot and saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket, and when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map — face of the Earth.
    Because we understand the challenges Israel faces, I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. (Applause.) It’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels. (Applause.) And that includes additional support –- beyond regular military aid -– for the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. (Applause.) A powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation — a powerful example of American-Israeli cooperation which has already intercepted rockets from Gaza and helped saved Israeli lives. So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge. (Applause.)
    You also see our commitment to our shared security in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.) Here in the United States, we’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. (Applause.) At the United Nations, under our leadership, we’ve secured the most comprehensive international sanctions on the regime, which have been joined by allies and partners around the world. Today, Iran is virtually cut off from large parts of the international financial system, and we’re going to keep up the pressure. So let me be absolutely clear –- we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
    Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses. As I said on Thursday, the Iranian government has shown its hypocrisy by claiming to support the rights of protesters while treating its own people with brutality. Moreover, Iran continues to support terrorism across the region, including providing weapons and funds to terrorist organizations. So we will continue to work to prevent these actions, and we will stand up to groups like Hezbollah, who exercise political assassination and seek to impose their will through rockets and car bombs.
    You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel. (Applause.) As I said at the United Nations last year, “Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate,” and “efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States.” (Applause.)
    So when the Durban Review Conference advanced anti-Israel sentiment, we withdrew. In the wake of the Goldstone Report, we stood up strongly for Israel’s right to defend itself. (Applause.) When an effort was made to insert the United Nations into matters that should be resolved through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, we vetoed it. (Applause.)
    And so, in both word and deed, we have been unwavering in our support of Israel’s security. (Applause.) And it is precisely because of our commitment to Israel’s long-term security that we have worked to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (Applause.)
    Now, I have said repeatedly that core issues can only be negotiated in direct talks between the parties. (Applause.) And I indicated on Thursday that the recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace. (Applause.) No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction. (Applause.) And we will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements. (Applause.) And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years. (Applause.)
    And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option. The status quo is unsustainable. And that is why on Thursday I stated publicly the principles that the United States believes can provide a foundation for negotiations toward an agreement to end the conflict and all claims — the broad outlines of which have been known for many years, and have been the template for discussions between the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians since at least the Clinton administration.
    I know that stating these principles — on the issues of territory and security — generated some controversy over the past few days. (Laughter.) I wasn’t surprised. I know very well that the easy thing to do, particularly for a President preparing for reelection, is to avoid any controversy. I don’t need Rahm to tell me that. Don’t need Axelrod to tell me that. But I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu, I believe that the current situation in the Middle East does not allow for procrastination. I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another. (Applause.) So I want to share with you some of what I said to the Prime Minister.
    Here are the facts we all must confront. First, the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian Territories. This will make it harder and harder — without a peace deal — to maintain Israel as both a Jewish state and a democratic state.
    Second, technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself in the absence of a genuine peace.
    Third, a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.
    And just as the context has changed in the Middle East, so too has it been changing in the international community over the last several years. There’s a reason why the Palestinians are pursuing their interests at the United Nations. They recognize that there is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab World — in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe. And that impatience is growing, and it’s already manifesting itself in capitals around the world.
    And those are the facts. I firmly believe, and I repeated on Thursday, that peace cannot be imposed on the parties to the conflict. No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state. And the United States will stand up against efforts to single Israel out at the United Nations or in any international forum. (Applause.) Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate. That is my commitment; that is my pledge to all of you. (Applause.)
    Moreover, we know that peace demands a partner –- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist. (Applause.) And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric. (Applause.)
    But the march to isolate Israel internationally — and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations –- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative. And for us to have leverage with the Palestinians, to have leverage with the Arab States and with the international community, the basis for negotiations has to hold out the prospect of success. And so, in advance of a five-day trip to Europe in which the Middle East will be a topic of acute interest, I chose to speak about what peace will require.
    There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations. Since questions have been raised, let me repeat what I actually said on Thursday — not what I was reported to have said.
    I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps — (applause) — so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
    As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself –- by itself -– against any threat. (Applause.) Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. (Applause.) And a full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign and non-militarized state. (Applause.) And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated. (Applause.)
    Now, that is what I said. And it was my reference to the 1967 lines — with mutually agreed swaps — that received the lion’s share of the attention, including just now. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” means.
    By definition, it means that the parties themselves -– Israelis and Palestinians -– will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. (Applause.) That’s what mutually agreed-upon swaps means. It is a well-known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years. (Applause.) It allows the parties themselves to take account of those changes, including the new demographic realities on the ground, and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people — (applause) — and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people — each state in joined self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace. (Applause.)
    If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I’ve done so because we can’t afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades to achieve peace. (Applause.) The world is moving too fast. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel will only grow. Delay will undermine Israel’s security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.
    Now, I know that some of you will disagree with this assessment. I respect that. And as fellow Americans and friends of Israel, I know we can have this discussion.
    Ultimately, it is the right and the responsibility of the Israeli government to make the hard choices that are necessary to protect a Jewish and democratic state for which so many generations have sacrificed. (Applause.) And as a friend of Israel, I’m committed to doing our part to see that this goal is realized. And I will call not just on Israel, but on the Palestinians, on the Arab States, and the international community to join us in this effort, because the burden of making hard choices must not be Israel’s alone. (Applause.)
    But even as we do all that’s necessary to ensure Israel’s security, even as we are clear-eyed about the difficult challenges before us, and even as we pledge to stand by Israel through whatever tough days lie ahead, I hope we do not give up on that vision of peace. For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.
    The Talmud teaches us that, “So long as a person still has life, they should never abandon faith.” And that lesson seems especially fitting today.
    For so long as there are those across the Middle East and beyond who are standing up for the legitimate rights and freedoms which have been denied by their governments, the United States will never abandon our support for those rights that are universal.
    And so long as there are those who long for a better future, we will never abandon our pursuit of a just and lasting peace that ends this conflict with two states living side by side in peace and security. This is not idealism; it is not naïveté. It is a hard-headed recognition that a genuine peace is the only path that will ultimately provide for a peaceful Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people and a Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. (Applause.) That is my goal, and I look forward to continuing to work with AIPAC to achieve that goal.
    Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you. – Transcript
  • Gene Simmons Slams President Obama’s Israel Policy: ‘He Has No F-Ing Idea What The World Is Like’Breitbart, 5-22-11
  • Sarah Palin Criticizes Obama on Israel; Calls Him ‘Temporary Leader’: In an interview with Fox News’ Judge Jeanine on Saturday, Palin spoke in support of the Jewish state, saying, “Anyone who studies history, studies the Old Testament, studies geography understands that Israel now is surrounded by enemies at all times.
    “It should be now that America takes a stand in defending our friends in Israel.”
    Obama has been drawing fire from Republicans after delivering a major speech on Thursday. In it, he stated, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
    Also rejecting Obama’s stance, Palin stated on Fox, “To tell Israel that now they have to pull back from their homeland, that they have to concede even more, and that they have to negotiate with terrorists, with Hamas, having been a part now joining in the unity government under Palestinian authority, we’re flirting with disaster under President Obama’s very clouded, very murky foreign policy as it applies to Israel.”
    What the U.S. should be doing more than ever is “standing strong with Israel and saying, ‘No, you don’t have to divide Jerusalem, you don’t have to divide your capital city,’” she continued.
    Palin commented, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not need to be lectured by President Obama on the importance of peace. He understands it.”
    “I’m going to call him a temporary leader, because my goal is to make sure that President Obama is not reelected in 2012,” she said on Fox.
    “We the people need to rise up, saying we’ll take a stand for Israel. We’ll be on their side, no matter if our ‘temporary leader’ sides with terrorists and demands Israel negotiate with terrorists.
    “Until President Obama is replaced by a president who understands the importance of treating our friends right and being strong against our enemies – until that happens – it’s ‘We the People’ who have to rise up and make sure that Israel knows they have friends here.”… – Christian Post, 5-21-11
  • Newt Gingrich Leads Criticism on Obama’s Israel-Palestine Remarks: Republican presidential hopeful and Catholic convert Newt Gingrich has labeled President Obama’s Israeli-Palestinian policy a “disaster” during Sunday’s CBS program “Face the Nation.”
    Outspoken Gingrich said Obama’s remarks were “extraordinarily dangerous,” and further stated that “a president who can’t control his own border probably shouldn’t lecture Israel about their border.”
    Gingrich was referring to Obama’s comments this week that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations be based on border demarcations from before the six-day war in 1967, in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip among other territories. Furthermore, he stated that potential agreements should include land swap deals to reflect changes over recent decades.
    Gingrich said on “Face the Nation:” “I think that defining the 1967 border would be an act of suicide for Israel. They are totally non-defensible.
    “You have Hamas, which is a terrorist organization whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. The idea that somehow we’re supposed to be neutral between Hamas and Israel is fundamentally flawed and I do not believe that we should have any pressure on Israel as long as Hamas’ policy is the destruction of Israel and as long as missiles are being fired into Israel and terrorists are preparing to try to kill Israelis.”
    Gingrich is not the only one condemning Obama’s stance towards Israel; Congressman Ron Paul has also issued a blistering critique of Obama’s recent proposals.
    “Unlike this President, I do not believe it is our place to dictate how Israel runs her affairs,” the Texas Republican said in a press statement.
    “There can only be peace in the region if those sides work out their differences among one another. We should respect Israel’s sovereignty and not try to dictate her policy from Washington,” he added…. – Christian Post, 5-22-11
  • MK Katz Warns AIPAC, ‘Obama Put a Gun to Israel’s Head’: “Don’t fall for U.S. President Barack Obama’s magical oratory. He put a gun to Israel’s head and asked it to commit suicide,” National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz MK wrote the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Sunday.
    The legislator continued, “I urge you not to be captured by his magic tongue because he actually is asking you for your votes and your money.”
    MK Katz wrote to AIPAC committee members, “The People of Israel, in the Diaspora for 2,000 years, developed a sense of who loves us and who hates us. President Obama knows very well that former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban described the 1967 borders as ‘Auschwitz borders.'”
    “The People of Israel will not fall for the false charm of posters, slogans, cellophane wrappers of sweetened drugs of death”, he concluded. – Israel National News, 5-22-11
  • Livni on Obama speech: US and Israel have shared interests: Opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Sunday commented on US President Barack Obama’s speech to AIPAC earlier, saying “The principle of Israel’s security and the need to arrive at a two-state solution, one of which is the State of Israel, is first of all an Israeli interest. Therefore, we need to be going in this direction in our partnership with the US.”
    “It’s important to understand that the entire world looks at the relationship between Israel and the United States, especially those who still do not accept our existence here. And part of Israel’s deterrence capability comes from the understanding that we are working together [with the US]. Therefore, there is a very important message coming from Washington these days,” Livni said.
    She stressed, “The things that Obama mentioned represent a long-standing American policy. We have shared interests. This is very important to Israel, so that it can once and for all advance the process to prevent unilateral moves at the United Nations.” – JPost, 5-22-11
  • Eric Cantor: Israel is America’s Most Loyal Ally: Republican Eric Cantor, the GOP majority leader in the House of Representatives, addressed the attendees of the annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
    Speaking of his immigrant roots and of his pride of being Jewish, Cantor told the audience that “America needs Israel as it is our most stable and loyal ally,” adding that “America must do everything in its power to protect Israel. It is okay to vilify Israel but it is not okay to scapegoat Israel.”
    He addressed the conflict between Israelis and Arabs and said that the root of the conflict is not the so-called 1967 lines (the 1949 armistice lines which defense experts have said would be indefensible), but rather the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel. Israel wants to live in peace, said Cantor, but PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has to stop promoting hate and should come to the negotiating table. Until that happens, noted Cantor, there can be no peace, particularly with Hamas being part of the PA government…. Israel National News, 5-22-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

  • Gil Troy: Despite the talk about “Obama’s Mideast speech” Thursday, I actually heard two separate addresses. In the first, President Barack Obama offered vague nostrums about the “Arab spring,” best summarized in three words: Democracy is good. Obama transitioned awkwardly to the second speech, about Israelis and Palestinians, saying: “Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.” In this section, the professorial president turned from airy abstractions to problematic particulars. Although it was impossible to predict America’s next move in the Arab world from the speech’s first part, we now know exactly how an Israel-Palestine peace treaty would look if Obama could dictate it and those annoying people who live there would just follow….
    Even more problematic was his call for “the borders of Israel and Palestine” to “be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” These words not only seem to contradict George W. Bush’s vow to Ariel Sharon based on decades of American policy, but the deification of 1967 boundaries lacks historical nuance in a region obsessed with nuance and history.
    The logical starting point in advocating a two-state solution comes by acknowledging that in the region particular borders shifted and populations moved. Anyone who talks about people frozen in place for centuries or borders as if they were permamarked on a map is either a fool or a fanatic. Bible-based Israelis must admit that the boundaries of Biblical land of Israel, varied, just as passionate Palestinians must admit that the boundaries of Palestine-Israel in the twentieth-century alone shifted repeatedly.
    We cannot undo history and we must move forward, from 2011, trying to minimize disruptions to populations while maximizing satisfaction on both sides. Rather than trying to freeze one random moment in historical time, demography and the current status quo should be our guides, tempered by sensitivity, creativity, and a touch but not too much historicity. Obama’s overlooked line about the “growing number of Palestinians [who] live west of the Jordan River,” explains why each of the two clashing people should have a state. Peace will work if it passes the test of what Obama called populism, working logically for many people today, not at some random point from the past.
    Obama did speak beautifully about “a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future.” Alas, this speech did not do enough to buttress the forces of hope over hate, and by feeding the 1967 obsession, Obama himself was too shackled to one unhelpful perspective on the past.
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