WATCH: President Obama quips that he likes Canadians but his feelings will cool during the Canada/USA Olympic hockey games
OTTAWA – Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama had a case of beer riding on the outcome of the women’s game in Olympic hockey, and Harper is ready to collect.
The Canadian Prime Minister’s airborne plane erupted in cheers Thursday afternoon as Harper himself announced the women’s Olympic hockey victory over the United States.
As the Canadian delegation was winging its way home from a summit meeting in Mexico, Harper’s disembodied voice cracked over the plane’s public address system at about 3 p.m. Eastern time.
Harper joked that he was taking over the plane and had a special announcement.
A hockey fan and author, the prime minister delivered the news of how the women’s team came from behind for a dramatic 3-2 overtime win over the U.S.
Loud cheers rang through the cabin.
“It was a great victory,” Harper said.
The beer wager will repeat itself Friday as the Canadian men face their American counterparts in a semifinal matchup.
During Wednesday’s summit meeting with Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Obama joked that the goodwill between the two countries would be temporarily in short supply.
“My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to like Canadians,” Obama joked. “So for a very brief period of time, I may not feel as warm towards Canadians as I normally do – at least until those matches are over.”
The rivalry reverberated today throughout the neighbourhood surrounding the White House.
A crowd of mixed allegiances took in the game at the Canadian embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue. The embassy’s deputy head of mission greeted the crowd during the first intermission.
“After 200 years of peace between our two countries,” Dennis Stevens said to laughs, “we’re going to agree to suspend that for a couple of days.”
Comfort food was on offer – because Americans were going to be needing a little bit of comfort, Stevens joked, drawing groans from the Americans in the crowd.
The crowd was served all the customary bits of Canadiana, from Tim Hortons to BeaverTails pastries to pizza from local Canadian chef Spike Mendelsohn.
They were given a pair of red Canada mittens as they left.
“The government of Canada recognizes that the Olympics gives us a wonderful opportunity to practice sports diplomacy,” said embassy spokeswoman Christine Constantin.
“We may be friends, allies, neighbours, partners, but we’re competitors on the ice.”