I will start off by stating that Barack Obama was not my first choice for President. In the wake of the failure of Paul Martin, high rhetoric, while it sounds very nice, often runs into institutional barriers in the halls of power that can very quickly scuttle the press for real change in the way a national capital operates. Obama is a magnificent speaker and he ran a tremendous campaign. I still have serious reservations about him, chiefly his stated desire to get out of Iraq at a time when that country's fragile future is not secured. Say what you will about the war, the lives of 25 million people are still largely in America's hands, and to leave prematurely would put them in jeopardy. Iraq has come a long way since the successful surge, but the training wheels are still on and shouldn't be yanked off and have the guiding hand removed at this time. But again, how much of the rhetoric during the campaign can be fulfilled?
Also of concern is the rhetoric on NAFTA. Two billion dollars worth of goods flows across the Canada-US border every day, unimpeded by tariffs and duties that unduly burden the treasuries of our great countries. Obama has said that he would re-open NAFTA. As a free trader who is highly well aware of the importance of the Agreement for Canada's prosperity, that sets off alarm bells. With a strongly Democratic Congress, the potential for increased protectionism in America is higher than at any point since the original Canada-US Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 1989. But again, the institutional barriers may protect Canada from seeing its access to the world's largest market limited by tariffs and duties.
These two key matters aside, I was moved by the speech last night. It's not often I stay up until 1:30 in the morning to listen to a speech anymore. But this was historic. CNN declared the White House for Obama precisely at midnight, and it was an incredible moment, one that I knew would stick with me because of its significance for a long time. So I'm happy to be a little tired this morning for having witnessed the announcement and the speech. I'm a very practical person; I'm willing to listen to Obama and be supportive of him as President of the United States. I am, and always have been, a proud supporter of the United States for the message it brings to the world. People everywhere are filled with hope for this young man to "put America back on track," whatever that means. I'm going to give him a chance to inspire me and win my confidence as well.