The United States of America has re-elected Obama as their President. Reactions in the United States were public and varied from elation to despair. However, it was not just America that drew breath once the election was called—in fact, the whole world was on the edge of their seats. If you were at the Ceillie on that Tuesday night, you know that Trent was certainly watching, having packed the pub full with cheers erupting at Obama and Romney’s small victories respectfully.
Certainly a key issue on everyone’s mind, whether they’re north or south of the border, is the economy. The United States is one of Canada’s largest trading partners. If their economy is suffering then so may ours should the U.S. find themselves forced to reduce spending on our goods.
In his campaign, Obama laid out a policy of applying taxes to the rich and cutting spending to departments, including military. Specifically, Obama plans to use funds saved by pulling out of the Middle East to help pay off the massive U.S deficit. This does not affect Canada directly. As long as a plan is in place to help the U.S. economy (and as long as that plan is allowed to work), we can expect a healthy future of trade between the two countries.
However, it can be noted that the road ahead is not entirely problem free for Obama. While Obama’s democrats continue to control the Senate, republicans have kept control of the House of Representatives. In his first term, republicans used this discrepancy to wage war on all that came forth from Obama and his party. It didn’t matter what benefit it might have for the country—if it wasn’t their policy they generally went out of their way to step on it. Should this aggressive, blind opposition continue, it could be so damaging as to plunge the country into recession.
Graham Taylor, an American History professor at Trent, told The Peterborough Examiner: “You’re still looking at potential gridlock in Washington,” stating that “the next few months are going to be very, very tricky for the United States… If the U.S. goes right back into recession that has a pretty devastating impact on Canada. Hopefully reasonable minds will prevail in Washington and they’ll all reach an agreement.”
To reinforce how significant the trade relationship between Canada and the U.S is, one only has to look as far as the numbers. U.S ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, speaking before the election had been called pointed out that “bilateral trade has gone up by 38 percent in the past two years between our two countries. Exports from Canada to the U.S. went up by $41 billion last year alone. By comparison, exports from Canada to China only increased by $4 billion in the same period.” This is of particular note in contrast to the FIPA deal Canada recently strove to initiate with China.
It is concerning however, that many large corporations have become disgruntled with the Obama Administration and are reacting against employees in the face of paying taxes and Obama Care. The resulting lay-offs have already started crashing over the border to Canadian branches of American Companies. Price hikes have been announced from major chains such as Papa Johns, justified by the need to fund Obama Care. Unfortunately, Canadian Jobs are no safer than American jobs in this round of cuts and the blame is falling on Obama and his healthcare plan.
This healthcare plan is proving to be a huge and difficult adjustment for many Americans. Angry press releases, Twitter posts and so on continually indicate apparent financial inability of companies to part with enough of their profit margin to insure their employees. Here in Canada it might seem blasphemous that employees be laid off because employers can’t simultaneously afford their staff and make enough to survive in this dangerous world. At the same time though, south of the border being asked to pay someone else’s hospital bill is the blasphemous idea.
It will be very interesting for Canadians to observe not just the next few weeks and months (which will likely be very difficult for Canadians), but perhaps more importantly, the next few decades. The survival of Universal Healthcare is not yet guaranteed in the United States, and exactly how long the “Obama Care layoffs” will go on for and how long the devastation will stay in affect is yet to be determined.
Obama Care will allow more Americans the opportunity to see a doctor and will also mean a greater need for doctors in the United States. Some experts have predicted that the shortage will lure Canadian medical students to employment opportunities south of the border. This is something Canadians must always be wary of; a lack of jobs in our own country as opposed to an abundance somewhere else leaves us training workforces for others’ benefit. This is hardly fair to the governments that drop a lot of funding into each post-secondary student. (Don’t forget that our Ontario Government is paying 2/3 of your tuition, even when the cost we do pay seems heavy.)
As was mentioned, Canadians piled into pubs like the Ceillie to watch the U.S. election. What is it about American politics that has so many Canadians all caught up, when many barely even noticed our own election and aren’t even sure who won it?
There are a few factors which likely contribute to this. First of all, a quick glance at the American candidate platforms shows that they are extremely polarized. For Mitt Romney there is no dancing near the middle line and no regard for where a “safe zone” might be. His views and policies are extremely “right wing” and chances are that if you like him a little then you like him a lot. If you have reservations about his policy you probably don’t like him at all. The
same goes for Obama. As far as U.S. politics are concerned he’s as far left as they can stretch and either you’re for that or you’re not.
This polarization of parties and candidates in the Presidential race lead Canada to see a potentially polarized America. Either we could have Obama- caring, money saving, pulling out of war style neighbors, or we could have use- all-the-oil, nobody-needs-an-abortion, mormon-electing neighbors. Clearly these descriptions boil down each candidates side to the bare, caricature- like bones, but demonstrate the opposite nature of the parties and their respective candidates.
The apparent polarization of American
politics and therefore potentially the American people also polarized Canadians when they considered which side they would vote on. This could lead to heated discussions and thus a hard- to-miss Canadian infatuation with the American Presidential Race.
The popularity of the election can also be attributed to the sensational campaigns. Obama’s blue and red “HOPE” poster is still iconically associated with him. Pictures of him smiling, waving, well-dressed—and in the case of Romney, well, fake-tanned photos plastered the internet so that while Canadian politicians look like (drab, “typical”) politicians, their American counterparts looked more like celebrities.
It is considered likely that we will see continued cooperation between the two countries with regards to the border. Canada has already conceded to a few U.S practices for border screening. While there is still infrastructure improvements in need of doing, both countries are genuinely interested in continuing border security and ease of passage.
While many expect Obama to approve the much discussed Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta through to America (approval coming in wake of a revised proposal from Canada, answering Obama’s environmental concerns), Canada must know that Obama has not indicated intentions of dependence on Canadian oil. In fact, Obama has shown interest in investing in more sustainable energy methods. First and foremost, for an energy future dependent on many sources, Obama wants to pull U.S. energy dependence out of Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. After that however, it’s not going to be Canada all the way—he’ll be examining the possibility of windmills and solar panels.
Canadians must also be on high alert for what this pipeline, or any pipeline, will do to our environment. This pipeline can go a long way in producing green technology and involving safety regulations to prevent environmental damages. In reality though, some damage is inevitable. Canadians must weigh what this pipeline could do to our economy and our environment in the event of catastrophic spills as opposed to our priorities and our values.