Canadian officials are using the visit by the U.S. President to trot out some trivia and statistics about the Canada-U.S. relationships. among the facts and figures cited this morning: -- Canada operates 22 missions and trade offices across the United States, including the embassy in Washington, D.C.
-- The Canada-U.S. border stretches for 8,891km, the longest undefended border in the world. Each day, more than 300,000 people and 200,000 commercial trucks cross the U.S. - Canada border. The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor is the busiest border crossing. -- With some $1.9 billion of good and services crossing the border each day, the two countries are one another's largest customers and biggest suppliers. Almost one-quarter of Canada-U.S. merchandise trade is in automobiles, trucks, and parts. Canadians buy more American goods that Mexico and Japan combined, more that the entire European Union, and four times as much as China.
-- on energy, Canada ranks sixth in the world in total energy production, seventh in global oil production, third in global gas production and second in hydro-electric generation. Alberta's oil sands are the largest single oil deposit in the world. Canada is the United States' largest supplier of energy - oil, natural gas, uranium and electricity.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will entertain the U.S. president for lunch in the distinguished setting of the dining room of the Speaker of the Senate. There's a few offerings on their menu: -- Pacific Coast tuna with a chilli and citrus vinaigrette; maple and miso cured Nunavut Arctic char; lightly pickled vegetables and an organic beet relish. applewood smoked plains Bison; winter root vegetables and local mushrooms; cauliflower and rosemary puree; juniper and Niagara Red Wine jus. -- Saugeen yogurt pot de crème with a lemon and lavender syrup; wild blueberry and partridgeberry compote; Acadian buckwheat honey and sumac tuile.
Forget the presidential limousine, the legions of police cruisers. The most important vehicle today might well be the lowly salt truck. A City of Ottawa plow/salter made several passes along Wellington St. in front of Parliament Hill this morning in a front-line attack against the light snow that continued to fall. While security officials have undoubtedly made contingency plans for all sorts of emergencies today, the biggest threat could be a little patch of black ice. It wouldn't do to have the motorcade wind up in a snowbank. Speaking of snowbanks, city crews also came by in the past few days and removed the snowbanks lining the road in front of the Parliament Hill. As the clock ticks down to Barack Obama's appearance on the Hill, the crowds continued to swell with several dozen people now lining the security fence. Bruce Campion-Smith
Not even snow, nor sleet could keep them away. In this case, it's not the mail. Rather it's fans of U.S. President Barack Obama who showed up in the pre-dawn gloom on Parliament Hill, braving slush and snow, in hopes of catching even just a glimpse of the visiting leader. As the day dawned, preparations swung into high gear as squads of police officers moved on to Parliament Hill by the busload. The final barricades were moved into place and streets shut down. The President will ride downtown in the "Beast," the nickname for his new armoured limousine. With bulletproof glass, self-contained air supply, and high-tech communications gear, the vehicle is equipped to withstand all many of calamity. But as a Canadian Press reporter wryly noted, how will it fare against the effects of Canadian road salt? Bruce Campion-Smith
Yesterday's White House memo to the Washington press corps came with a triple-warning to "Remember your passports" -- and so far this morning everyone seems to have managed it. The regulars that tail Obama don't normally carry theirs, let alone fill out Canadian customs forms, as they are doing right now at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington. About 50 of us here for the pre-dawn checkin and now ready to board the press plane to Ottawa. CNN tops out with a team of seven, five from CBS, four from Fox. The Toronto Star's seat is Row 10, across from Politico. Some are dazed and sleepless after Obama's two-day swing through Denver and Phoenix. But there is a buzz nevertheless that this trip's different.
Stay with The Star and thestar.com for full setup and coverage of the first foreign visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Star reporters will have news updates from Obama's arrival in Ottawa until his departure for the return trip to Washington, and will also blog the colour of the day here on our Political Notebook blog (http://thestar.blogs.com/notebook).
We'll have quick updates on our Twitter page, at http://twitter.com/TorontoStar - if you're on Parliament Hill Thursday, tweet us @TorontoStar with #obamavisit
And we'll have photos, audio reports from the lawn/snowbanks of Parliament Hill and video from The Canadian Press.
Ignatieff was just getting started when former Liberal MP Paul Zed, who now works for him, reached into the crowd to tap him on the elbow. That is univeral scrum language for "wind it up and get out of here". The staffer taping the scrum from behind his back nodded, instructed the cameras to clear a path, nodded again and then Ignatieff bolted. Ignatieff said there were positive elements in the budget but did not reveal which way he will vote and then got out of there.
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