Friday, August 15, 2003

Talk about an unholy alliance. I'm also a little confused, I thought that Bush was pissed at Jean about the whole pot thing and here he is, probing the blackout with a joint?!?

Bush, Chretien, agree to joint probe into blackout

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada and the United States agreed to a joint probe into the causes of a power outage in parts of Canada and the United States, Chretien's office said.

The two countries "have today agreed to form a joint task force to identify the causes of the recent power outage that affected North America and to seek solutions to help prevent future outages," the statement from Chretien's office said.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and US President George W. Bush spoke by telephone late Friday, an official said.

Governments on both sides of the US-Canada border have pointed the finger at each other. They have shown themselves to be confused about how and even where the massive blackout started.

Chretien said Thursday night it started in Niagara in New York State. However, Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum, speaking 20 minutes later and during the same press conference, said at first that it was a nuclear blast at a plant in Pennsylvania and later that it had occurred somewhere else.

By Friday morning, McCallum said it was all caused by a failure somewhere in the US Midwest. By Friday afternoon, he admitted "there has been a lot of confusing information" and he didn't know where it all started.

South of the border US leaders claimed the outage started somewhere in Canada. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted it all started in Canada, a charge angrily denied by Canadian authorities.

The new joint task force will be jointly chaired by Canada's federal Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwa and US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, said Chretien's office.

The task forces will include other members from both federal governments, from Canadian provincial governments and US state administrations as well as private-sector electricity providers.

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