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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office on Sept. 16, 2009.

Prime Minister's Office

Stephen Harper is in Washington meeting Barack Obama, and here in Ottawa, politicians are spinning it in Question Period.

But wait, three anti-seal hunt protestors in the gallery, dressed as nuns, have interrupted proceedings yelling "ban the seal slaughter." Lévis Conservative MP Steven Blaney holds up a seal-skin binder - apparently a sign of solidarity with hunters - and Newfoundland Liberal Gerry Byrne goes over to give him a hug. A momentary lapse of squabbling among politicians on the floor, but it's soon set to rights.

Liberal Dominic Leblanc, filling in for a missing Michael Ignatieff, argued that Stephen Harper got nothing done in a " 42-minute photo op" with the U.S. President, especially on important issues like Buy American.

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Not so, says Trade Minister Stockwell Day, deputizing for Mr. Harper. He quotes Mr. Obama saying that Mr. Harper has raised the Buy American issue each time they've met, and that there's a bilateral process to address it. Mr. Day lauds it as an endorsement of the Canadian PM being "on the job" on the issue.

The Liberals moved on quickly to citing an OECD report predicting Canadian unemployment will rise to 10 per cent, and the Tories are doing nothing - in line with the Liberals plan to campaign on the Conservatives not doing enough to stimulate the economic recovery.

And the NDP, fresh from announcing they will prop up the government, took on the Conservatives for planning to cut the deficit with multi-billion-dollar increases in employment-insurance premiums. NDP Leader Jack Layton asks how the Conservatives can support such a "job-killing initiative."

Conservative Transport Minister John Baird, the party's QP scrapper, retorted: "I never thought I'd see the day in my life when the leader of the NDP would stand in his place and complain about high taxes."

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About the Author
Chief political writer

Campbell Clark has been a political writer in The Globe and Mail’s Ottawa bureau since 2000. Before that he worked for The Montreal Gazette and the National Post. He writes about Canadian politics and foreign policy. More

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