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EDWARD GREENSPON: Hello, I'm Ed Greenspon, Editor and Chief of The Globe and Mail. Welcome to the Globe Round Table. Not the inaugural edition for sure, but the last one before the inauguration next Tuesday, Barack Obama as President of the United States. We'll start this morning with the new U.S. administration and its meaning for Canada and the world. We may also touch upon some of the other stories gracing the front page of Canada's national newspaper today. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says Canada won't get out of debt for at least five years, though we can probably afford it. Nortel, once Canada's proudest global champion has filed for bankruptcy after a decade of decline. And the Vancouver Olympics, well remember former Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau said the Olympics could no more have a deficit than a man could have a baby? Well, is Vancouver in labour? To help us sort through this and whatever mysterious directions they decide to take the conversation I am joined by our Round Table regulars. Jodi White the recently departed President of the Public Policy Forum and a former Chief of Staff to Joe Clark and Kim Campbell. Doug McArthur, the Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. A former Cabinet Minister in Saskatchewan and Deputy Minister to two Premiers in British Columbia. And John Manley, Senior Counsel of the law firm of McCarthy Tetrault and Canada's former Minister of Industry, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister. Welcome to you all.
ALL: Morning, Morning, Hi.
EDWARD GREENSPON: Hi there. Alright, well why don't we start today in the global capital to the south. Next week it will be President Obama. We've heard a lot from him in recent days, more so probably than usually one does from a President Elect. I guess my questions are is he ready? And what does he mean for Canada? Jodi why don't we start with you?
JODI WHITE: Is he ready? Wow, well who will ever know. He wouldn't be able to answer that or he would answer that question positively. I think he's as ready as he's going to be. I think the biggest danger actually are the expectations are so high and that is not a great place for a politician to be most of the time. However, it is … it's fun to watch the excitement both in this country and in the United States of the Inauguration. I thought it was intriguing yesterday with Hillary Clinton in her … her hearings for her nomination that she did mention Canada and I don't want to say that as being somebody who watches for somebody ever mentioning Canada in Washington and thinking oh gosh, that means we're important. But I thought she made a strong case about the neighbours and I don't think that's usual for a Secretary of State to talk about the two neighbours in that way. So that, I thought that was a signal and it ties in perhaps with the announcement that in fact President Obama will come to Canada some time soon as his first foreign visit and that has historically been important and didn't happen with President Bush. But I think now the onus is absolutely on Canada to make sure that we've got good messages. That we move in there as quickly as we can. With a strategy of our own in terms of trying to build this relationship and put it back into the place where it needs to be on a number of the key issues.
EDWARD GREENSPON: Doug what sort of strategy do we need and are we going to be on the radar screen in Washington?
DOUG McARTHUR: Well I think Obama's going to be pretty occupied right off the start with three things that are more or less handed to him as he comes in. In the Israeli\Arab conflict, the U.S. economy and the world economy and the Pakistan\Afghanistan situation. And all of these are going to be huge matters to matter … manage … and things he really can't win on. So I think we'll have trouble getting his attention and we're going to see … we're going to see the shine come off the … the government fairly quickly on these things. On Canada I think it's going to more depend on how Canada positions itself vis-à-vis this administration. Canada has not really taken a strong stand with the U.S. on … on trade issues, even though there's been a lot of complaining. The question will be will Canada want to assert itself and try to do something say for instance on one of the most egregious things the U.S. has done and that's softwood lumber. My bet is no that Canada is not going to be very aggressive and so I think it likely that we won't put many demands on the Obama administration and I don't fear necessarily they're going to turn around and poke us on us giving all the other problems and situations they have. I think you're going to see Obama try to handle these really tough things he has. He's going to have to try to show some progress on something of his own agenda and so probably try to turn to something on the social policy side, Medicare or something. Canada? We're not going to count very much. Will Canada try to assert and develop a better relationship and get some better results? I'm kind of doubtful. We haven't seen much of a record in standing up and fighting for our position very strongly on these questions.