The Canadian Election's Impact on America

During the years of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Canada and the United States shared an important relationship as trading partners, allies, and warm friends. Our common Britannic history encompassing the rule of law, democracy, and the protection of the individual through restraints on government power formed a solid foundation. Despite occasional rockiness during and after the American Revolution and in 1812, we were close allies in the two World Wars and Korea

Canada continued to be an important Cold War ally of the United States through NATO and NORAD (North American Radar Air Defense).  Although periodic difficulties arose between our respective nations over Vietnam, Cuba, and various other matters, at the core of our cultures we (both Americans and Canadians) appreciated the depth of our shared interests and values.  Canada cheered when the US hockey team beat the USSR in Lake Placid against all odds.  Similarly, Americans cheered when Canada came from behind to defeat the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Hockey series.

However, beginning with the government of Pierre Trudeau in the 1960's, the Canadian—American relationship began a gradual decline based on ill—conceived anti—Americanism, leftists within the Canadian government, the fear of American hegemony, and the perception of American ignorance and indifference towards Canada.  That trend was halted during the Reagan—Mulroney years as well as when George H.W. Bush became President in 1988.  But the Trudeau era difficulties arose again with the victory of Liberal leader Jean Chrétien in 1994.  It was believed that with President Bill Clinton in the White House that a positive relationship would continue after the replacement of conservative governments (GOP and Tory) with liberal ones (Dems and Grits). 

However, Prime Minister Chrétien proved to be a difficult and annoying ally to America, resisting American diplomatic and military efforts at every turn for no other reason than he enjoyed being a pain in the American behind. That anti—American sentiment was allowed to fester and thereby encouraged further anti—American sentiment in Canadian politicians, academic circles, and advocacy groups.

The replacement of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien with Paul Martin was believed to be one which would lead to a warming of US—Canada relations since Martin was a business man with close ties to many American movers and shakers.  Nevertheless, Martin proved to be no different that his predecessor after pulling out of missile defense cooperation at the last minute, exploiting anti—American rhetoric for election purposes, and being overly critical of the Iraq war despite indicating that Saddam Hussein was a serious strategic threat.

Next week, Canada will again go to the polls and will likely elect a new government with a new Prime Minister.  Conservative leader Stephen Harper is poised to win at least a minority government and possibly a majority.  This change has important implications for the United States in a variety of ways. 

Most importantly, Canada can again act as a strategic ally to the United States on issues of border security.  The Liberals have resisted cooperation with America on immigration screening, customs regulations, arming border guards, and harmonizing visitation to North America.  It is likely that the Conservatives will work far more closely with the US Homeland Security Department than the Liberals will.  This is not because Harper is an American puppy, but because Conservatives in Canada understand far more than Liberals (or liberals) the gravity and significance of September 11th, that it caused a paradigm shift in international relations and foreign policy and was not just a criminal act by terrorists.

Trade relations will also change.  I would expect that softwood lumber duties, currently imposed on Canadian producers, will end quickly after Harper is elected.  This will be done as a goodwill gesture to Canada in light of a more cooperative and positive relationship that can be developed with a new government.  The tariffs on Canadian lumber also hurt American consumers who end up paying more for houses, furniture, tools, etc. because of these duties.  Developing a more efficient system to make cross border trade swifter, if not seamless, is also a real possibility.  This increases the competitiveness of American firms in Canada, and Canadian firms in the United States.

The least tangible, but perhaps most important, change would be the renewed friendship and closeness between Canada and the United States.  Many Canadians would take enormous pride in seeing Mr. Harper address a full session of Congress to reinvigorate the relationship and heal the bruises left over from the Liberal Party era.  It would also be an equally positive development to have President Bush address Canadian Parliament as was so often the tradition of past Presidents in days gone by. 

Both Canada and the United States have much to gain with a Conservative Party victory next Monday.  Although Canadian politics is not very exciting to most Americans, it is important.  Twenty—three percent of America's exports go to Canada and 17% of America's imports come from Canada, more than Mexico and Japan combined.  For a Canadian like myself living in America, I am very excited about the prospects of next week's election, and so should many Americans. 

Jonathan D. Strong is the proprietor of The Strong Conservative.

During the years of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Canada and the United States shared an important relationship as trading partners, allies, and warm friends. Our common Britannic history encompassing the rule of law, democracy, and the protection of the individual through restraints on government power formed a solid foundation. Despite occasional rockiness during and after the American Revolution and in 1812, we were close allies in the two World Wars and Korea

Canada continued to be an important Cold War ally of the United States through NATO and NORAD (North American Radar Air Defense).  Although periodic difficulties arose between our respective nations over Vietnam, Cuba, and various other matters, at the core of our cultures we (both Americans and Canadians) appreciated the depth of our shared interests and values.  Canada cheered when the US hockey team beat the USSR in Lake Placid against all odds.  Similarly, Americans cheered when Canada came from behind to defeat the Soviets in the 1972 Summit Hockey series.

However, beginning with the government of Pierre Trudeau in the 1960's, the Canadian—American relationship began a gradual decline based on ill—conceived anti—Americanism, leftists within the Canadian government, the fear of American hegemony, and the perception of American ignorance and indifference towards Canada.  That trend was halted during the Reagan—Mulroney years as well as when George H.W. Bush became President in 1988.  But the Trudeau era difficulties arose again with the victory of Liberal leader Jean Chrétien in 1994.  It was believed that with President Bill Clinton in the White House that a positive relationship would continue after the replacement of conservative governments (GOP and Tory) with liberal ones (Dems and Grits). 

However, Prime Minister Chrétien proved to be a difficult and annoying ally to America, resisting American diplomatic and military efforts at every turn for no other reason than he enjoyed being a pain in the American behind. That anti—American sentiment was allowed to fester and thereby encouraged further anti—American sentiment in Canadian politicians, academic circles, and advocacy groups.

The replacement of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien with Paul Martin was believed to be one which would lead to a warming of US—Canada relations since Martin was a business man with close ties to many American movers and shakers.  Nevertheless, Martin proved to be no different that his predecessor after pulling out of missile defense cooperation at the last minute, exploiting anti—American rhetoric for election purposes, and being overly critical of the Iraq war despite indicating that Saddam Hussein was a serious strategic threat.

Next week, Canada will again go to the polls and will likely elect a new government with a new Prime Minister.  Conservative leader Stephen Harper is poised to win at least a minority government and possibly a majority.  This change has important implications for the United States in a variety of ways. 

Most importantly, Canada can again act as a strategic ally to the United States on issues of border security.  The Liberals have resisted cooperation with America on immigration screening, customs regulations, arming border guards, and harmonizing visitation to North America.  It is likely that the Conservatives will work far more closely with the US Homeland Security Department than the Liberals will.  This is not because Harper is an American puppy, but because Conservatives in Canada understand far more than Liberals (or liberals) the gravity and significance of September 11th, that it caused a paradigm shift in international relations and foreign policy and was not just a criminal act by terrorists.

Trade relations will also change.  I would expect that softwood lumber duties, currently imposed on Canadian producers, will end quickly after Harper is elected.  This will be done as a goodwill gesture to Canada in light of a more cooperative and positive relationship that can be developed with a new government.  The tariffs on Canadian lumber also hurt American consumers who end up paying more for houses, furniture, tools, etc. because of these duties.  Developing a more efficient system to make cross border trade swifter, if not seamless, is also a real possibility.  This increases the competitiveness of American firms in Canada, and Canadian firms in the United States.

The least tangible, but perhaps most important, change would be the renewed friendship and closeness between Canada and the United States.  Many Canadians would take enormous pride in seeing Mr. Harper address a full session of Congress to reinvigorate the relationship and heal the bruises left over from the Liberal Party era.  It would also be an equally positive development to have President Bush address Canadian Parliament as was so often the tradition of past Presidents in days gone by. 

Both Canada and the United States have much to gain with a Conservative Party victory next Monday.  Although Canadian politics is not very exciting to most Americans, it is important.  Twenty—three percent of America's exports go to Canada and 17% of America's imports come from Canada, more than Mexico and Japan combined.  For a Canadian like myself living in America, I am very excited about the prospects of next week's election, and so should many Americans. 

Jonathan D. Strong is the proprietor of The Strong Conservative.