Locals watch historic inauguration
Patrons were quiet and the few waiters who dared to break the silence took orders only in whispers at Cage aux Sports in Pointe Claire today at noon as all eyes turned toward the giant television screens showing Barack Obama deliver his inaugural speech as America's 44th President and its first black one.
"I think he addressed exactly what had to be addressed," said Lachine resident Peter Phaneuf, out to catch the inauguration ceremonies with a couple of friends.
Phaneuf, who has seen a few presidential inaugurations before, said it was comparable to others." It's sort of like Kennedy," he said, recalling the same spirit of euphoria and hope he had witnessed as a 14-year-old in 1961.
However, Phaneuf also said there were some differences between then and now. "There is too much bad stuff going on now," he said. Phaneuf said he hoped relations between Canada and the United States would improve with the arrival of a new administration south of the border. "I hope we're smart enough to get along with each other," he said, adding he was disappointed in the likes of leaders like former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who chose to distance himself from the U.S.A. under its last president George W. Bush.
This was an opposite reaction to Trois-Rivières resident Lyne Chabot, having a meal with her Dollard des Ormeaux –based daughter Carolyne Gareau on her birthday. "In their leadership style, I don't see a lot in common between Barack Obama and Stephen Harper," Chabot said. "Obama does not seem overly idealistic," she said, praising his pragmatism and openness to others, whereas Stephen Harper, on the contrary, is very closed up, she said. "The speech was very moving," ventured Gareau. Chabot said the most significant part of Obama's legacy lay ahead. "I will tell you the most important part is what he's going to do, not what he has said."
Sitting a few tables away with some friends, Sébastien Gignac, president of ART, a technological research company for the pharma and medical industries, said the speech was sobering in laying down the harsh reality faced by the United States. "He tried to diminish expectations," Gignac said.
Gignac said the Canadian government's popularity can probably improve thanks to good relations with the new president. "President Obama will certainly ask (Stephen Harper) to extend his stand in Afghanistan," Gignac said. With the respect Obama seems to gather from Canadians, he said, it will likely be easier for Harper to do this.