Guest post by Jackie Bonisteel.

On February 19th, President Obama is coming to town. Canadians have been repeatedly advised to temper our expectations: the visit will be short and limited to no-nonsense discussion of the economic crisis. There will be no welcome rally, no Rideau Canal skate, no inspiring speech to the Canadian people. So settle down, we are told.

But since Obama himself stands for "the audacity of hope", perhaps the Darfur advocacy community should have the audacity to hope for more. In that spirit, I propose that Darfur should be a top priority on the Canada-US bilateral agenda.

As a close neighbour, and a chief architect of the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, Canada is ideally poised to stand at Obama's side as his administration acts decisively to end the violence in Darfur. Setting aside a change of course in recent years, we are a nation with a history of peacekeeping and strong international diplomacy. We are one of the largest contributors to UNAMID. Together, Canada and the US can take decisive action for Darfur that will motivate other key international players to follow suit.

Granted, the decisive action we would like to see from Obama has yet to materialize. The economic crisis will of course be the new administration's overwhelming focus for some time. However, there are encouraging signs that US leadership in Darfur is on its way. During his Presidential campaign, Obama spoke of the need for a no-fly zone and greater US logistical support to UNAMID. He has surrounded himself with advisors such as Susan Rice, Joe Biden, Hilary Clinton, Anthony Lake and Samantha Power who are strong advocates for greater US commitment in Darfur. With US resources being freed up from Iraq, the time appears to be ripe for a shift in focus to Darfur.

Yes, there is an economic crisis, but there is also a crisis in Darfur of the utmost severity. Obama may offer the hope we've been waiting for—but only a strong push will turn hope into reality. With our commitment and solidarity, Canada can be part of that push.

Tell Prime Minister Harper that you would like to see Darfur become a top priority on the Canada-US bilateral agenda. It's EASY:

Call 1-800-GENOCIDE to be connected directly to Prime Minister Harper's office. It will only take a few minutes!

You can also write to the prime minister at pm@pm.gc.ca or

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
K1A 0A2

Tell your friends! Post this link to your Facebook profile or forward it in an email.

Write to the media! Share your views with the public - let's gather more support. Tell your community members why they should care.

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