went to the Chicago wedding of Scarborough-Rouge River MPP Bas Balkissoon's son Tony.This past weekend, U.S. president Barack Obama
Tony Balkissoon, 29. is a lawyer in the city. He married Laura Jarrett, also a lawyer, the daughter of Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama's most influential advisors.
The Obama's private residence in Chicago was in walking distance from Valerie Jarrett's mother's home, where the wedding was held in the backyard.
The Liberal MPP was seen in deep conversation with Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder at the high-security nuptials.
The Toronto Star points out that this marriage is only one of several links between Obama and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Bas Balkissoon's boss.
David Axelrod, another key advisor for Obama, was a McGuinty strategist from 2000 to 2002.
"He owes me big time for that," McGuinty told reporters in 2008, joking that Obama took notes from his playbook. "Barack Obama is delivering a message that is based on hope and he's speaking to what I think is an innate longing and yearning felt in people everywhere."
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Toronto Liberal Jean-Michel Picher, who helped the premier with last year's provincial election, worked on Obama's presidential primary campaign in 2007 and 2008.
And some analysts can't help but compare Obama to McGuinty when the president talks about the Keystone pipeline, appealing to the green lobby:
"The president appears to have torn a page from the playbook of Dalton McGuinty, of all people. In the recent Ontario election, McGuinty consciously and deliberately appealed to affluent downtown Toronto environmentalists, at the risk of losing critical rural districts where opposition to wind turbines is overwhelming. He lost those rural seats but kept the downtown seats, squeaking to a very bare victory," writes Canadian Energy Issues' Steve Aplin.
In December, headlines announced another blossoming cross-border friendship: Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Well, some critics have worried that Canada's relations with the U.S. have reached their lowest point in 25 years. Jack M. Mintz of the Financial Post argues that "Canada needs to think hard about how to reboot its ties with the United States."
Personal relationships with the president is a start.
"Anyone who tells you that personal friendship doesn't count in the conduct of foreign affairs —that nations only have interests and nothing else — doesn't have a clue what he is talking about," former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said at a luncheon this past November, acknowledging that his closeness with presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr., hugely contributed to his successes in office.
Mulroney claims Trudeau and Chretien's more "frosty" relationships with their presidential counterparts — Trudeau once called living next to the U.S. "like sleeping with an elephant" — kept them from resolving big-ticket matters with our neighbours.
The CBC's timeline of Canada-U.S. relations supports the theory that good personal relationships are, in turn, good for the country.
It also never hurts to invite the president to your son's wedding.
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