Ottawa was in a frenzy today. The place was bouncing and all over the city people gathered around the water coolers asking each other if they were going to Hill or seeing whose desk they'd sit at to watch a streaming news feed. They discussed how they got to work and what routes they took to avoid streets that were shut down. There were a few jokes about going downtown to play Spot the Sniper on Parliament Hill (ok fine, that might have just been me). All this means only one thing - today President Obama came to Ottawa.
As Slice Magazine pointed out, today was about more than politics - it was also a day to work on repairing the public image of Canada-US relations in the public eye. It seems to have gone well. To say that it pleased Canadians that Obama's first foreign visit was to Canada is to say that Canada is cold in the winter (hey, even Vancouver got snow this year). Even though he was only going to be here for a few hours we were not short on suggestions on what she should do with his time. Doreyme linked to some great YouTube videos in which Canadians tell him what he should do while in Ottawa. The Rideau Canal was definitely the overall favourite.
Kady O'Malley liveblogged the day's activities for MacLean's and if you are unfamiliar with her you should know that she's fun and sassy. Some tidbits from her liveblog (include an inside joke for CBC viewers):
- "Another cool feature is a giant screen running pool footage from the Ottawa Airport, which is weirdly mesmerizing. Right now, it’s showing the control tower, but a moment ago, we got to watch a Mountie shovel snow."
- "I’m not actually sure how much I can add to the rolling commentary on the brooooooadcast."
- "Did he - he did! He waved! And the entire lawn waved back. I’ve honestly never seen a Hill rally made up of such entirely happy people."
There were also dog discussions. You see, a shelter in Winnipeg offered the President and family a Labradoodle, leading some bloggers to wonder if he'd actually bring one home with him. It looks like the answer was the one the shelter was expecting - a thank you but no thank you.
Naila J at Impending Zenith performed a little experiment that I really wish I had thought of and may have to try in the future. She hopped onto Twitter and started following the #Obamawa (don't worry, it doesn't make much sense to us either) while watching the CBC. She was not only able to see the reaction to Obama's visit but to the coverage as well.
What I loved about this experience was seeing people react to what I was seeing - and noting what made them tick. What they loved, what they laughed at, and what discouraged them. And seeing it all in real time was a wonderful comment on society, and a great way to share this historic event with a community, albeit a bunch of people online whom I don't really know and probably never will.
As for Obama? It looks like he took some advice from the locals and had himself a Beaver Tail. From the US Embassy in Ottawa's Twitter account:
#obamawa Right Now: President Obama is having an 'Obama Tail' in Byward Market.
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