It’s the day before the American election and I have exponentially more trepidation than I did four years ago.
The last time, I went to bed early on election night because I had a 7am flight to California. I learned of the results the next morning on the way to Pearson and settled in with a cup of coffee in the lounge. When I checked into my hotel, my friend asked the front desk staff how they were doing with the election results. With red eyes, one of them said they were doing fine as “the hotel manager let them take breaks every 15 minutes to cry in the back room”.
Ladies at Sonoma’s El Pueblo Inn, I am thinking about you today.
One would be forgiven for thinking that what happens South of the border is something that we are immune to, but I disagree. I think our very existence will be affected by which old man they elect king; from the COVID situation to climate change and our overall economic relationship.
The COVID Situation:
Now, I’ll be straight up - when I talk about the “COVID Situation”, what I am really talking about is opening the borders to trade with Canada. Owing to the Trump administration’s denial of the global pandemic (which led to what history will remember as mismanagement on a criminal level) the border between our two countries has been closed to non-essential travel. What was once $1.6B in border trade has now been reduced to less than half. If Trump wins, we can expect more denial, more infections and continued stalled trade. If Biden wins, it is my hope that some serious consideration will be given to masks and social distancing measures, as has been his attitude since announcing his candidacy.
Our Economic Relationship
The US/CAN economic relationship has always been governed by trading rules and even a good amount of respect, until Trump took office. Almost immediately, he “renegotiated” (subtext: withdrew from) NAFTA and became what Chrystia Freeland called “the most protectionist administration in U.S. history.” What was once a free trade agreement has now become an America First agreement, with selected and managed trade - interrupted by tariffs and retaliatory responses, depending on the mood of the President. The expectation of Canadian trade experts is that Biden will repair what were once highly functioning supply chains (specifically dairy and lumber) that have been destroyed by the Trump administration.
With respect to climate change, the current “President" and his administration have often made reference to "both sides” of science. It was no surprise that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement and further deny the effects of current commercial behaviour on global warming. Vice President Biden has committed to rejoin the Paris accord, cancel the Keystone pipeline and ban on government subsidies for fossil fuels. Gerald Butts (former Principal Secretary to PM Trudeau) recently said the Biden’s climate policies "go far beyond Obama's and reflect a growing recognition of the environmental threat". I would like to compare platforms, but Trump simply hasn’t released an environmental platform to consider.
How does this impact you?
Undoubtedly, the United States is on the precipice of becoming a full-blow autocracy. All of Canada, if not indeed the rest of the world is watching this election - for fear of collapsed economies and perhaps a full existential threat.
I’m fucking nervous.