On Monday, The Canadian Embassy in Washington will celebrate the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama with poutine, beer and a Mountie Salute.

But once the tailgate party’s over, what can Canada expect to see in terms of relations with our friends south of the border?

On CTV’s Power Play, David Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Canada, and his Canadian counterpart, Ambassador Gary Doer, broke down some Canada- U.S. issues that could have lasting impact in the coming months and years:


Jacobson said the Obama administration is facing “three difficult months” ahead as Congress attempts to tackle deficit spending, the debt ceiling and the budget, which runs out in March. How the U.S. approaches the debt crisis will have a profound impact on Canada, Jacobson said.

“The most important thing that the United States can do for Canada is to get our economic house in order,” Jacobson said. “When we do well, you do well.”


A key priority for U.S.-Canada relations is the approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, said Doer.

Both countries are now awaiting the approval of an amended route from Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman. If the project gets the go-ahead, Canada stands to play a large role in weaning the United States off oil from overseas sources, Doer said.

Both U.S. and Canadian politicians are rallying for the approval. On Thursday, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall sent a letter to Obama urging him to move forward on the project. The letter was signed by 10 U.S. governors.

“This oil from Canada and Nebraska displaces heavy crude from Venezuela, it makes the United States less reliable on oil from the Middle East and more reliable on oil from North Dakota, Montana and Canada so we believe the merit of the case should allow this to proceed in a very scientific and positive way,” Doer said.


Doer said Canada and the U.S. are moving ahead with the Beyond the Border perimeter security initiative unveiled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Obama in early 2011.

The biggest infrastructure proposal coming out of the action plan is the International Bridge planned for the Windsor-Detroit trade corridor, Doer said. The proposed six-lane bridge would be jointly owned by Canada and Michigan and link the existing Highway 401 in Ontario to the Michigan Freeway system. According to a Canadian government website, it is expected to increase border crossing capacity and a projected trade increase over the next 30 years.

But procurement for the bridge, border inspection plazas and Interstate connection remains at a standstill as the project awaits various approvals.

“That will be a huge, huge endeavour for us in terms of getting that presidential permit and in terms for what it means for the busiest border crossing between our two countries,” Doer said.