Harper to Obama: Canada's your best friend

Thu Nov 6, 2008 6:27pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday he wants to tell President-elect Barack Obama that Canada stands ready as the best friend and partner of the United States.

He termed Obama's election an inspiration because he is the first black to win the presidency, adding the victory was a remarkable feat that students of politics would want to study.

"I think everyone not only in the United States but around the world is quite excited by the possibility of change in the United States, our neighbor," Harper told a news conference in Toronto.

He said he hoped to speak to Obama in the coming hours, or at most the next day or two, and to meet him at the appropriate time.

"Canada is there to be not just an ally and a partner of the United States but its most reliable ally and its best friend and partner in the world. That's what we're there to do. We will be there, and I look forward to that conversation and meeting the senator in person," Harper said.

It was the prime minister's first public event since the U.S. election, and his remarks were much fuller than a brief written statement his staff put out on election night.

"This is a tremendous, historic occasion for the United States, in all kinds of ways. Obviously the election of the first African-American president is a tremendous and truly inspiring moment," he said.

"And I think all of us who are maybe a little bit older ... understand why that truly is, when you see the changes that have occurred in their society and our society over the past couple of generations."   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to journalists after meeting with members of the C.D. Howe Institute Monetary Policy Council Toronto, November 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>