Rideau Institute on Obama Victory in U.S. Election

(Ottawa) “The Rideau Institute joins Canadians in recognizing the historic nature of last night’s election, and congratulates President-elect Barack Obama. Throughout this race, Sen. Obama set a tone that holds the promise of easing global tensions and possibly solving some of the conflicts initiated by outgoing President George W. Bush,” said Steven Staples, President of the Rideau Institute.

It is important however, to note that President-elect Obama has promised to send up to 15,000 American troops to Afghanistan. Given Prime Minister Harper’s promise to bring our troops home by 2011, it is anticipated that the new President may pressure Mr. Harper to increase our combat role in Afghanistan.

“Canada has made a significant contribution already, and the government should not agree to a request to increase our combat role in Afghanistan,” said Staples. “President-elect Obama can best contribute to peace in Afghanistan by supporting a negotiated end to the war, rather than sending thousands of troops to continue fighting it. He should be encouraged to change the U.S. approach in Afghanistan,” he added.

The U.S.’ heavy reliance on aerial bombardment has resulted in increased Afghan civilian casualties, leading to criticism by NATO and the Karzai government.

Of great interest to the Rideau Institute is President-elect Obama’s promise to reopen NAFTA with the aim of strengthening labour and environmental agreements, and to make climate change a major priority of his administration.

“Mr. Harper’s government should eagerly establish a positive working relationship with the new president, and overcome the embarrassing role Mr. Harper’s government played in the ‘NAFTAgate’ controversy during the Democratic primary race,” said Staples.

Other key policy areas in which President-elect Obama may move forward include: progress on nuclear disarmament, scaling down missile defence and preventing the weaponization of space, rebuilding tattered relations with Russia, initiating a new diplomatic front with Iran, and closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

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For further information, please contact: Steven Staples, 613-565-9449 (o), 613-290-2695 (cell)

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