Canadians let it all out in Obama welcome

Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:34pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadians put aside their usual snide remarks about U.S. politicians on Thursday as thousands gathered in unabashed adulation of President Barack Obama on his first foreign visit.

More than 3,000 people withstood freezing temperatures and snow on Ottawa's Parliament Hill to catch a glimpse of the U.S. leader as he waved briefly from behind a plexiglass barrier as he met Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"Maybe We Can" and "Yes Oui Can" were some of the signs being waved by the screaming crowd. People held up pictures of Obama and adorned snowmen with Obama T-shirts and flags.

Television networks ran nonstop coverage of the visit, starting hours before the president's arrival, and local restaurants offered special Obama coffee - a blend of Kenyan, Hawaiian and Indonesian beans -- and typical fried-dough "beaver tails" with an "O"-shaped topping of whipped cream.

A five-foot tulip painted with Obama's likeness was presented to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

The fervor was unusual in a city whose people are often skeptical about U.S. politicians.

Lesley Marshall, a university student, waved a small American flag on the snow-covered lawn outside Parliament even though she is a Canadian citizen, something she said she wouldn't have dared do a few months ago.

"We came for the Bush protest here (in 2004) .... there were just lines of police officers with gas masks because there was so much anti-American sentiment. It was horrifying," she said, while e-mailing a photo of Obama to her American-born mother.   Continued...

<p>A woman stands next to a snowman on Parliament Hill as she waits for U.S. President Barack Obama in Ottawa February 19, 2009. Obama is on his first foreign trip since taking office. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>