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Obama and Canada's Harper meet today on world's largest 2-way relationship

February 19, 2009 |  1:24 am

President Barack Obama makes his first foreign journey today, a quick day trip 455 miles up to Canada's capital and back to his own White House bed tonight.

It's basically a get-to-know you opportunity for Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They'll meet on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, a cold, old canal town that was chosen as Canada's federal capital by a queen in England (who never went there) as a compromise between the country's toujours feuding linguistic realities, les anglaises and the French.

Here's one idiosyncratic briefing for the traveling president.

Perhaps more importantly, however, such an early American visit to its next-door neighbor and by far largest trading partner provides not only a welcome sign of respect by Americans but an invisible indicator to each country's government bureaucracies and private industries of how much importance their leaders attach to this enduring cultural and economic relationship that forms the largest bilateral partnership on the planet.

Fact is, the economies are so large and so integral to each other that neither political leader can control the relationship; they can just affect it by, for instance, combating protectionist tendencies of their bases.

One cultural reality is that Canada, which is geographically 10% larger than the United States with but 10% of the population (most of them clustered within 300 miles of the border), stands far smaller in the American mind than vice versa.

As a test of that awareness for our Ticket readers, we're playing a little game this morning. It's called "Canadian or Dead?" Here's how it works:

We'll list a whole bunch of names here. Readers can guess which of these famous people from different eras are Canadian and which are just dead. (For the answers, scroll down to the jump.) No fair, calling Canadian neighbors (or neighbours).

Mordecai Richler, Saul Bellow, Jack Kerouac, Ross Macdonald, John Kenneth Galbraith, Margaret Atwood and Will Durant. Brian Adams, Glenn Gould, Gordon Lightfoot, Guy Lombardo, Avril Lavigne, Leslie Nielsen, Raymond Burr and Rush.

Lorne Greene, William Shatner, Walter Pidgeon, Raymond Massey, Hume Cronyn, Kate Nelligan, Mort Sahl, Fay Wray, Margot Kidder, Genevieve Bujold, Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer, Mack Sennett, Christopher Plummer and Mary Pickford.

Morley Safer, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Rich Little, Dan Aykroyd, Peter Jennings, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Lorne Michaels.

--Andrew Malcolm

In the interests of bilateral bipartisanship today, both Americans and Canadians can click here to register for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. RSS feeds are available over here.  And we're now on Kindle as well.

Results of The Ticket's "Canadian or Dead?" Quiz:

All right, it was a trick question. All of those people are Canadian, dead or alive.

Silent screen actress Mary Pickford known as America's Sweetheart though she was Canadian

Photo credit: Getty Images (Mary Pickford, known as "America's Sweetheart," but wouldn't you know she was actually Canadian)