Monday was a special day in Winnipeg. We were privileged to attend the swearing in of Greg Selinger, the new Premier of Manitoba. The excitement in the room reminded me of how Julie and I felt on a very cold January day in Washington when President Obama took his oath of office. Both events were celebrations of the thing we all cherish most deeply – the orderly and peaceful transition of power. While it was a coincidence that we arrived on this special day, I am so glad we had a chance to witness it.
Lest you think I was taking the rest of the day off, we spent the morning learning about the new Canadian Human Rights Museum, a cause I have great interest in. We toured the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which has the largest collection of Inuit art in the world. We also enjoyed the photo exhibition of the great Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh which came to the museum from the Art Institute of Chicago in my home town. We visited with Lieutenant Governor Lee and his wife, Anna, in the historic Blue Room of the Legislative Building after the swearing in of Premier Selinger. We had lunch with Grand Chief Evans of the Manitoba tribes at the Chocolate Shop Restaurant that is operated by the tribes as a training facility for their people. By coincidence a TV crew was there doing a piece on the restaurant and I finally was able to do something I’m expert at: food critic. I highly recommend the bison stew.
During the afternoon I inspected the troops and the facilities at the Air Command of the Canadian NORAD Region. I then met with Mayor Sam Katz of Winnipeg. In addition to discussing the role of cities in the 21st century, we talked at length about a topic the mayor and I are both very fond of – baseball. He owns the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern league. I have been to games of another team in the Northern League, the Schaumburg Flyers, outside Chicago. And we compared Wrigley Field stories.
After a meeting with civic leaders, Julie and I went to the Manitoba Theatre Centre to take in the one man show “Five O’clock Bells” about the tragic life of legendary Canadian jazz guitarist Lenny Breau.
On Tuesday morning we had breakfast with Premier Selinger. We had a chance to get to know one another and I look forward to working with him during my time here in Canada. Then it was off to Montreal where we spent a couple of hours with my son Jeremy who is a student at McGill. We met with the Principal of McGill, Heather Munroe-Blum. We had a broad ranging discussion about higher education in our two countries as well as opportunities to work together in the future.
Last night I attended the welcome event for the Canadian American Business Council and later had dinner with Premier Charest and several community leaders from Quebec and the United States.
This morning I spoke to the CABC attendees about the state of the relationship between our two countries. Now we’re on our way back to Ottawa for a couple of welcome nights in my own bed. DJ