Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The eve of "fruitful discussions": see you at the airport hangar

A few items about the big visit tomorrow during which "fruitful discussions" are the order of the day for some but not for all.

First, this is really a bit of a joke:
Reporters from across the country have been calling the Parliamentary Press Gallery trying to get a seat at the four-question news conference he will share with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But there are just 40 spots for Canadian journalists and 40 for the U.S. contingent of 70 or 80 reporters who will arrive with Mr. Obama. (emphasis added)
As described in a Star report on the schedule tomorrow:
2:45 p.m.: Joint Obama-Harper news conference, with two questions from Canadian reporters (English and French), and two questions from American reporters. After the news conference, the two leaders walk down the Hall of Honour to view the Library of Parliament.
That's not a news conference, sorry to say. Technically, yes, but it's much more of a photo-op. Such vibrant democracies we live in! Why do the media clamour for seats? Why don't they just let the four questioners in so that it will accurately reflect the event? Love to see that. I suppose they anticipate the four questions turning into eight answers so it's a timing thing. But still, looks to be a letdown. Let's go out on a limb and make a prediction, though, just for fun...Bob Fife gets the lone Canadian/English question and it will be a doozy. Something about describing the relationship/friendship.

Second, this situating of Ignatieff at the airport at the end of the day to meet with Obama at the airport hangar really has an odious whiff about it, it can't be said too much:

3:40 p.m.: Obama’s motorcade departs the Centre Block for Ottawa international airport.

4 p.m.: Obama arrives at the airport for about a 20-minute meeting with Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

4:30 p.m.: Approximate departure time for Obama aboard Air Force One.

They've just barely met the protocol:

Protocol dictates the president meet with the leader of the Official Opposition during a visit to Canada. But the Liberals have questioned the selection of a less-than-public location for the meeting and its brevity — details they say were determined by the Prime Minister's Office.

There's just no way around this, it's just laughable in terms of proper decorum being extended to one's colleagues. Looking forward to seeing how that exercise plays out and how lemonade will be made of the lemons.