It’s just a quick, half-day, business trip — a courtesy call stopover to the neighbours’ office.
But that won’t stop thousands of people from lining the streets on Thursday to welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to Ottawa.
“We”re not going to be meeting him, that’s fine,” said Rachel Decoste, a local Obama supporter who has been helping to co-ordinate public events planned for the visit. “At least he’ll know that he is welcome here and people support him.”
Decoste said she knows of several buses bringing people in from Toronto, southern Ontario and Montreal for Obama’s visit. Some people are even flying in from Halifax, even though they may only see his motorcade at best.
“With a warm welcome, he for sure will want to come back,” said Decoste, “and maybe he’ll bring Michelle next time.”
During the visit, Decoste said Obama supporters would be crowding into designated areas on Parliament Hill and Wellington Street, cheering and chanting slogans like, “Yes We Can-ada!”
On Wednesday night, before the visit, the green-advocate group Environmental Defence is hosting “An Evening of Obama” at the Metropolitain Brasserie on Sussex and Wellington streets.
Aaron Freeman, ED policy director, said the event is intended to be a lighthearted welcoming event for “politicos” excited about the visit.
“We’re pretty happy about Obama’s environmental leadership. We think that provides a model for other countries, including Canada,” he said.
To coincide with the president’s visit, Sierra Club Canada is hosting a free anti-tar sands film festival on Thursday afternoon at Alumni Theatre in the Jock Turcot University Centre.
Rally by Canada for Obama is planned for 1 p.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church on Laurier.
Finally, Democrats Abroad Canada is organizing a walk over Laurier Bridge at 2:15 p.m. to symbolize the work Obama has done to bring people together in the U.S. and around the world.