OBAMA TO VISIT CITY IN MARCH

Sad­dle­dome will host event

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BILL KAUF­MANN BKauf­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @Bil­lKauf­man­njrn

Just over two years after he left of­fice, for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent Barack Obama will speak in Cal­gary.

The 44th U.S. pres­i­dent, whose poli­cies have been tar­geted by his suc­ces­sor, Don­ald Trump, will ap­pear March 5 at the Sco­tia­bank Sad­dle­dome about a year after his wife, for­mer first lady Michelle Obama, drew a sold-out crowd at the Stam­pede Cor­ral.

“Obama’s legacy is coloured by who his suc­ces­sor is and, to some de­gree, who his pre­de­ces­sor was,” said Univer­sity of Cal­gary po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Terry Ter­riff.

The two-term Demo­cratic pres­i­dent was the first African-Amer­i­can to oc­cupy the White House, and took of­fice in the midst of the eco­nomic melt­down of 2008-09.

He steered the coun­try through that cri­sis to lead the long­est stretch of job cre­ation in Amer­ica’s his­tory, while over­haul­ing the U.S. health-care sys­tem with the Af­ford­able Care Act.

That lat­ter achieve­ment is Obama’s mar­quee do­mes­tic legacy, for now, said Ter­riff.

“How many times has the U.S. tried some­thing like this, though it’s partly be­ing un­done by the cur­rent (Trump) ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Ter­riff. “The ACA had in it the best in­ter­ests of Amer­i­cans, in his view.”

But crit­ics say Obama ex­ces­sively de­ported un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants and ex­panded the sur­veil­lance state, while his de­fend­ers in­sist Repub­li­can ob­struc­tion­ism in Con­gress eroded his legacy.

It was dur­ing his stint in the Oval Of­fice that al- Qaida ter­ror­ist leader Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. com­mando team in Pak­istan in 2011.

Amer­ica’s drone war in­ten­si­fied and the Pen­tagon stepped up its com­mit­ment to the con­flict in Afghanistan un­der his pres­i­dency.

He led the ef­fort to ink a multi­na­tion deal with Iran to pre­vent that coun­try from de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons and de­vel­oped closer re­la­tions with long-em­bar­goed Cuba.

Like his do­mes­tic record, Obama’s for­eign pol­icy re­sults were mixed, with his at­tempts to wind down the U.S. oc­cu­pa­tion of Iraq crit­i­cized, as was his re­luc­tance to com­mit U.S. forces in Syria, Ter­riff said.

“He was hes­i­tant due to the hang­overs from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.

Obama re­ceived one of his first tastes of pub­lic ser­vice by work­ing with churches in Chicago to help com­mu­ni­ties hurt by the clo­sure of steel plants.

He taught con­sti­tu­tional law at the Univer­sity of Chicago be­fore serv­ing in the Illi­nois State Se­nate and the U.S. Se­nate.

When he was elected Nov. 4, 2008, Obama re­ceived more votes than any pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in his­tory.

Last fall, Obama, 57, made his pres­ence felt po­lit­i­cally again, cam­paign­ing for Demo­cratic Party can­di­dates dur­ing the lat­ter phase of the mid-term elec­tion, ac­tions rare for an ex-pres­i­dent.

For his Cal­gary speech, he’ll prob­a­bly fol­low the con­tours of his re­cent stops on the speak­ing cir­cuit and steer largely clear of for­eign pol­icy, Ter­riff said.

“He’s very ar­tic­u­late and seen as a uniter, the healer-in-chief, which is very un­like the cur­rent pres­i­dent,” Ter­riff said.

“He’ll prob­a­bly hold up Canada as an ex­am­ple.”

Tick­ets for A Con­ver­sa­tion with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama brought to Cal­gary by TINEPUBLIC go on sale Wed­nes­day at 10 a.m. at Tick­et­mas­ter.

Obama’s legacy is coloured by who his suc­ces­sor is and, to some de­gree, who his pre­de­ces­sor was.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES JA­SON DECROW/

Barack Obama’s ap­pear­ance is be­ing billed as “a con­ver­sa­tion” with the for­mer U.S. pres­i­dent.

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