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Finally preparations are underway for the 2.45 p.m. news conference by the prime minister and president. The two leaders are currently having lunch, along with senior aides and cabinet members. - Bruce Campion-Smith
So said a White House press aide in Ottawa a few minutes ago when asked for comment on today's Toronto Star story, which has the Liberals crying foul because opposition leader Michael Ignatieff has been relegated to a mere 15-minute encounter with Barack Obama at an airport hanger today just before the President returns to Washington. Press aide: "Stephen Harper is responsible for scheduling the President's meetings? Really?" The Star: "You tell us. Who works out the protocol?" Press aide: "I don't know. I don't get that far into the weeds. That's above my pay grade." He then backed slowly out of the room. Needless to say, everyone's being very careful not to sound any sour notes in Ottawa today. -- Mitch Potter
Make that the largest needle point in the world, at least according to the framed certificate from the Guiness Book of World Records Vahid Saadati held in his hands on the lawn of Parliament Hill. The needle point says 'Welcome' in 103 languages. All of a sudden a gust of wind picked up a corner and flipped it over. "Now we have a new record," Saadati said. "A flying carpet!"
The first face to face meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama dragged on well past its scheduled 10 minutes. Photogs were finally allowed up for a quick snap or two as the meeting ran about half an hour. Officials milled about outside. -------------------------- Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper walk together shortly after Obama's arrival at Parliament Hill. This photo was taken by Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt, who like members of the media had to stand behind a barrier, and sent to the Star from a borrowed Blackberry. "Good morning, good to see you all," the President said as he walked by with the prime minister.
The diehards got their wish. President Barack Obama's limousine arrived on Parliament Hill in the alcove below the Peace Tower. He exited the car, took a few steps into the Centre Block where he was greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Then together, the two leaders came back out, rounded the car and from the front steps, gave enthusiastic waves to the hundreds of fans gathered on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. -- Bruce Campion-Smith
Obama's first words upon getting his initial glimpse inside Parliament. The motorcade that brought him was 34 vehicles long, not counting the 11 Ottawa police cruisers that scouted the route seconds before it passed. That's about twice as many as the President routinely cruises with around Washington. -- Mitch Potter
White House officials have promised American journalists a full briefing this afternoon after the President meets with the Prime Minister and together they hold a news conference. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's office has just alerted Canadian journalists that the briefing they had planned for 4 p.m. has been cancelled. It will now be held Friday afternoon. It's a curious move that gives the Americans a leg up on the public relations front in trying to present their views of the day. -- Bruce Campion-Smith