Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 2, 2009
Catholics give Obama's visit mixed reviews
Environmentalists cheer creation of Clean Energy Dialogue mandate
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — President Barack Obama’s first visit to Canada struck some positive notes on the environment and on trade, say Catholic observers.
But Campaign Life Coalition (CLC) focused on the one issue that was not on the agenda of the Feb. 20 working visit: abortion.
In a news release, CLC president Jim Hughes urged America’s first black president to “help save the lives of 4,000 African American babies who die by abortion every day in the United States.”
African Americans make up only 13 per cent of the U.S. population, but 37 per cent of aborted babies are black, Hughes said.
“In the last 36 years over 17 million African American babies have died by abortion alone,” he said.
Obama, who as an Illinois legislator voted against a bill that would have made medical care mandatory for babies born alive as the result of botched abortions, has promised to support the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) that would override any state laws that regulate abortion, such as parental consent requirements.
NO ABORTION TALK
Though Obama said he wanted abortion to be rare during his campaign, one of his first acts as president was to sign an executive order to free funds to promote and finance abortions in developing nations, Hughes said.
Abortion never came up in the working visit that focused on trade, the environment, open borders, national security and the war in Afghanistan.
At a joint news conference, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Obama seemed to have little distance between their respective positions.
The most newsworthy element was the establishment of a Clean Energy Dialogue that would commit “senior officials from both countries to collaborate on the development of clean energy, science and technologies,” Harper said.
Joe Gunn, executive director of Citizens for Public Justice, called the establishment of the dialogue a “step forward. Polling has shown that Canadians want action on the environment and the Canadian government has not provided the leadership it should,” Gunn said.
Obama and Harper focused on clean technology for both coal and oilsands and what is known as carbon sequestration storage (CSS), which Gunn described as grabbing the carbon and shovelling it back into the earth. For domestic consumption, Obama has been much more “green.” Gunn pointed out his stimulus package included many “green” initiatives, but that Harper “missed that opportunity” in his.
CAPTURE COAL’S CARBON
“Here in Canada you have the issue of the oilsands,” Obama said. “In the United States we have issues around coal, for example, which is extraordinarily plentiful and runs a lot of our power plants and if we can figure out how to capture the carbon, that would make an enormous difference in how we operate.”
“We know that we have to have more than technological fixes,” Gunn said. “We need to have lifestyle changes and an ecological conversion.”
On Afghanistan, Obama said he did not press Harper for additional commitments beyond Canada’s 2011 deadline for troop withdrawal.
Harper said he wanted to shift Canada’s engagement from military to economic development. Harper said Canada’s principle goal is training the Afghan army so “Afghans themselves can become responsible for their day-to-day security.”