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Obama Given Rapturous Welcome in Canada's House of Commons

Before a rapturous Canadian House of Commons, Obama grappled with grim and chaotic news, and he talked up the "extraordinary" Canada-U.S. alliance.
Image: President Barack Obama is greeted by a standing ovation in the House of Commons
President Barack Obama is greeted by a standing ovation in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 29.Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press - AP

Before a rapturous Canadian House of Commons on Wednesday, President Barack Obama grappled with the cascade of grim and chaotic news — with Orlando and Istanbul, Brexit and what he called an "increasingly strained" international order that is "riven by old divisions and fresh hatreds."

But Obama also used the speech — the first to be delivered in the Commons by a U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1995 — to talk up the "extraordinary alliance" between Canada and the United States.

"In a world where too many borders are a source of conflict, our two countries are joined by the largest border of peace on Earth," he told the assembled lawmakers and others, adding that a shared and enduring commitment to a set of liberal values was behind that bond.

"No matter who we are, where we come from, last names, what faith we practice, here we can make of our lives what we will," he said. Referring to pioneers and prospectors, immigrants and refugees, Obama then quoted a civil rights icon.

"Deep in our history of struggle, said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Canada was the North Star, the Freedom Road that links us together."

And Canada loved it.

House members burst into applause repeatedly, and at this line — among others — there was a standing ovation: "Our relationship is so remarkable because it seems so unremarkable, which is why Americans are surprised when our favorite American actor or singer turns out to be Canadian."

It was Obama's third round of public remarks Wednesday during a series of talks dubbed "The Three Amigos Summit" by Canadian media, and as he concluded, the building erupted in a chant unlikely to be heard south of the border:

"Four more years! Four more years!"

Obama shook his head, waved and sat down, a wide grin across his face.