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Globe Roundtable

Continued from Page 1

EDWARD GREENSPON: But John, what should we be going? I mean are there dangers here with the new administration and it won't be on the radar screen is it important to do that — how do you do it?

JOHN MANLEY: Well first of all let me say I am unreasonably optimistic about how President Obama will … will do. I … I think there's a difference between expectations and hopes and I think hopes are very high. I think expectations are actually more realistic than might otherwise be the case given how high the awareness is of how difficult the … and … and intransigent the problems are that he faces. None of which will he be seen as responsible for. At least for a couple of years. So I think he's got a huge opportunity and I think he's shown himself extremely well thus far. So I'm … I'm … I'm really optimistic about it. And let's face it, Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Harper can do what they want in the budget but what … what the Obama administration does for the economy in the United States is going to have a lot more effect here in Canada I'm afraid than what we do in our own budget on the 27th of January. So we've got a big stake in his success. And even if he never mentions the word 'Canada', if he gets the U.S. economy back on track, that will be good for us in … in many, many ways. In terms of managing the relationship, where … we don't do well when we're you know, you know buzzing around the ear of the United States and … and you know, becoming a … a problem rather than a solution. We do well when we … when we are seen to be relevant in the big issues that the U.S. is engaged in internationally. And then we make progress on the bilateral issues and I think it's going to be very important for the Canadian government to identify the places where we are part of the solution so that we can build capital to spend on some of the bilateral issues, including trade irritants that arise inevitably in a relationship.

JODI WHITE: I agree with that totally in terms of the positive side of it. (Excuse me, sorry). And I really think that one of the things that has to happen is we have to rebuild all of the institutional links. I mean I don't think they have been used in the last while between Ottawa and Washington. I think the possibility of maybe having annual visits with the President somewhere would be so important to us. It's happened in the past, they were … it was an enormously valuable tool for us to have a conversation to do exactly what John's talking about which was to engage on other issues as well and to bring some thoughtful views to the table. But to also be there with our own issues and trying to tackle them. You know, the border being one of the huge ones that we've really got to … to look at very quickly with the new administration. But I think for institution building between the two … for the relationship, is going to be an important part of what we try to do early on.

EDWARD GREENSPON: I want to come back to a couple of points. Let me … let me, particularly John and Jodi for one moment because you've both sat in rooms with … with leaders of countries and foreign ministers of countries talking to each other. When President Obama comes and visits Prime Minister Harper, what will that be like? I mean will they talk politics? Will they talk hockey? Will they just talk about public policy issues that have been laid out by their … by their public servants? What sort of atmosphere occurs in those … in those conversations? John?

JOHN MANLEY: Well, it … usually there is a personal relationship that develops and it's always different with, you know, based on the individuals. And you know certainly I … in my experience seeing Prime Minister Chrιtien with Bill Clinton and seeing him with George W. Bush were quite different. And he built a very strong personal relationship with President Clinton to the extent that you know if there were major, you know, summit coming up, Clinton might call Chrιtien to get his advice on how to handle a particular situation. There's that kind of … of familiarity and they played golf together and they joked together and they visited privately together and they had that kind of relationship. It was a … it was … it was … I thought for the most part, at least in the bilaterals, very proper between Mr. Chrιtien and Mr. Bush but it … it lacked that kind of personal warmth. And some of that is just plain chemistry. So can Stephen Harper get that kind of chemistry with … with Barack Obama? That remains to be seen. There's … there's institutionally a well of goodwill. And we do have our efforts in Afghanistan which will be well noted by the President. But can they … can they click at some kind of a new personal level? That remains to be seen. By the way you know Mr. Mulroney had that … had that knack with the Presidents that he dealt with at least with President Bush Sr. and with President Reagan.

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