Obama: I'm Not Scared of Canadians

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
It's official: President Obama is not afraid of Canadians.

Asked at a North American summit in Mexico today about the fact that the Canadian health care system has "become a political football" in the United States during the debate over health care, Mr. Obama said he expects "Canadians will continue to get dragged in by those who oppose reform."

"I don't find Canadians particularly scary, but I guess some of the opponents of reform think that they make a good boogeyman," the president said at a press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Television ads from opponents of the president's efforts have featured a Canadian woman saying she would have died from a brain tumor had she had to rely on the Canadian government for health care, because it would have made her wait too long for treatment. (The claim was called misleading by independent analysts.)

"I've said that the Canadian model works for Canada," Mr. Obama said in discussing the two country's systems today. "It would not work for the United States, in part simply because we've evolved differently."

"We have a employer-based system and a private-based health care system that stands side-by-side with Medicare and Medicaid and our Veterans Administration health care system," he continued. "And so, we've got to develop a uniquely American approach to this problem."

The president went on to say that attempts to use criticism of the Canadian system as a weapon against his reform efforts are "a mistake."

"And I suspect that once we get into the fall and people look at the actual legislation that's being proposed, that more sensible and reasoned arguments will emerge," he said. "And we're going to get -- we're going to get this passed."