US president Bush visits Canada

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

United States President George W. Bush made his first official state visit to Canada this week.

After the political frost between the two states surrounding the U.S.' War on Terror policy and its invasion of Iraq in 2003, the kind of relationship the neighbor states can build or rebuild is thought to be of concern to many Canadians — the majority of whom remain highly critical of the Bush administration's policies.

Topics discussed included the U.S. "Star Wars" missile defence system, the future of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command), combatting of AIDS and other diseases in Africa, and cracking down on illegal activities on the U.S.-Canada border. They also discussed trade issues including beef, lumber, and prescription drugs.

Protesters march on Laurier Ave. in Ottawa

Protesters clashed with riot police in Ottawa briefly on Tuesday in a break from what has been for the most part a calm series of demonstrations. The Indymedia group of websites reported a demonstration on the 29th against the deportation of Palestinian refugees. They also report 15,000 people marched against Bush in Ottawa on the 30th and have text photos, and a video of the protests.

During an early afternoon news conference with Prime Minister Paul Martin, Bush said he was pleased with the welcome he received Tuesday morning. "I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave —with all five fingers —for their hospitality," he said with a chuckle.

The official 26-hour visit will take the American President to Canada's capital city, Ottawa and to Halifax, where he will pay tribute to the hospitality shown by Canadians on September 11, 2001, when, after the U.S. closed its airspace, more than 200 flights were diverted to Canadian airports. Thousands of Americans were sheltered in Halifax (the largest city in Canada's Atlantic provinces) as well as St. John's and Gander in Newfoundland, and other centres.