Tales from the Trail

“Newtie” panders on local issues in New Hampshire

With less than a week until the New Hampshire primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spent a full day campaigning in the state’s lightly populated North Country. While there he opened his stump speech by jumping into a local controversy over a proposed $1.1 billion plan to build a giant transmission line from the Canadian border to southern New Hampshire.

The plan, known as the Northern Pass, would connect a Quebec electricity producer with the population centers of southern New England. The plan is controversial in northern New Hampshire, which is heavily reliant on tourism, because it involves the construction of 120-foot-high towers through pristine parts of the White Mountain National Forest and surrounding forests.

“As I understand it the president has the ability to sign or not sign the document that authorizes the transmission from Quebec of energy,” Gingrich told voters in the town of Lancaster.  “I would not sign an authorization that would allow large towers that would destroy the scenic beauty of northern New Hampshire.”

“I don’t think the people of the north country should be forced to suffer a loss of their income and their quality of life to deliver power to the south for Quebec power,” he added, earning a round of applause.

Gingrich had one additional sweetener for local voters. “We’re working on a proposal for veterans to develop a clinic in the north country that would allow tele-medicine to veterans in the north country,” he said.

Does Gulf spill controversy stretch all the way to Canada?

OIL-SPILL/Oil and gas spewing from that broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico has spread at least as far as the Florida coast, and could go further. Controversy and questions about the relative safety of different kinds of fuel pipelines may have spread over an even wider area — taking in Washington DC, Alberta, Canada, and a big slice of the U.S. heartland.

Have the ripples from that BP spill reached the U.S. State Department? At least one environmental group thinks that could be the case. The State Department, which approves energy pipelines that cross international borders into U.S. territory, is considering the environmental impact of a massive pipeline that would have stretched from Canada’s oil sands fields all the way to Texas. But on Wednesday, the department extended the public comment period for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project a few weeks, from June 15 to July 2, with additional public meetings on the project on June 18 in Houston and on June 29 in Washington DC.

Fuel made from oil sands, also known as tar sands, appeals to those who favor fuel made by U.S. allies — like Canada — instead of countries that use oil revenues to oppose the United States and U.S. citizens abroad. And given the mess in the Gulf of Mexico, supporters of Canadian oil sands say that getting oil on land is less of a risk than deepwater drilling. But environmental groups argue this method is destructive to terrain and requires lots of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions to produce.

Gibbs sports Canadian hockey jersey for briefing

Joking that a new “casual Friday” dress code had been instituted in the West Wing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs showed up at the podium Friday wearing a Canadian hockey jersey to make good on a bet he had made with his counterpart in Canada.

OBAMA/Gibbs and Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had a wager on the men’s hockey final, which Canada won 3-2 in overtime.

His jersey had a number 39 on it in honor of U.S. goalie Ryan Miller. He had promised to wear it for 15 minutes but took it off after about five to uncover the Team U.S.A. Hockey jersey underneath.

Hillary Clinton wouldn’t flee to Canada if Sarah Palin was president

What did students in Saudi Arabia want to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about? Republican Sarah Palin. SAUDI-CLINTON/

One young man asked Clinton:  “Does the prospect of  Sarah Palin one day becoming president, maybe, terrify you?” and whether the Secretary of State might consider moving to Canada — or even Russia — in response.

“Well, the short answer is no. I will not be emigrating,” Clinton replied with a smile. “I will be visiting as often as I can.”

Obama doesn’t find Canadians “particularly scary”

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – The U.S. healthcare debate followed President Barack Obama down to Mexico, where he accused opponents of his overhaul plan of using Canada’s government-backed healthcare system to scare Americans away from change.

The issue came up when a Canadian reporter asked Obama at a news conference with the “three amigos” why “our health care system has become aMEXICO-SUMMIT/ political football in your country.”

Obama is more of a basketball fan, but he picked up the football and ran with it.

Are your documents in order for the summer holidays?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is making a big push to make sure Americans are aware that effective June 1 new document requirements will be in effect for entering the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The promotional material handed out to reporters to show the different acceptable forms of identification all used the name in the example of  ”Happy Traveler.”



Verbal statements of American citizenship, birth certificates, or ordinary driver’s licenses will not comply with the new requirements for re-entry after camping in the wilds of Canada, sunning on the beaches of Mexico, or cruising the Caribbean.

Obama thanks Canadians who campaigned for his election

71OTTAWA – As if he were out on the campaign trail again, Barack Obama gave a special thanks on Thursday to people who helped him win the 2008 U.S. presidential election — in Canada.
The president, on a visit to the United States’ northern neighbor, ended a news conference with Prime Minister Stephen Harper by thanking Canadians who came across the border to volunteer for his campaign.
“I want to also, by the way, thank some of the Canadians who came over the border to campaign for me,” he said, to laughter. “It was much appreciated.”
After the news conference, the president made a campaign-style trip to a local market where he shook hands with excited shoppers and looked for souvenirs for his daughters.
But Obama, whose whole trip lasted just several hours, did slip up a bit — campaign style — at the beginning of his remarks.
When saying it was good to be in Ottawa, he stumbled briefly, and started to say “Iowa.”

-Photo credit: Reuters/ Larry Downing (Obama waves after shopping at Ottawa market, February 19, 2009)

The First Draft: A Beauty Way to Go

Good day you hosers!

President Barack Obama takes off to the Great White North today on his first foreign jaunt as president. Trade will top the agenda in Ottawa as Obama seeks to ease concerns about protectionism. He’ll also discuss the war in Afghanistan and clean energy technology with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian Parlaiment, but the one-day trip leaves little time to get into details. Too bad, eh?CANADA-MOUNTIES/

Obama’s foreclosure plan should start showing results as soon as next month, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairman Shelia Bair said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is in Poland, seeking help from allies for the war in Afghanistan. The United States is sending an additional 17,000 troops, but has now lost its last remaining air base in Central Asia after a “Yankee Go Home” vote was approved by Kyrgyzstan.