There are times when it feels really great to be Canadian. When the Raptors won the NBA Championship or when 19-year old Bianca Andreescu beat tennis legend Serena Williams to win the Grand Slam at the US Open. That episode where Homer and Grandpa Simpson decided to smuggle Canadian pharmaceutical drugs and Regina, Saskatoon AND Winnipeg all got shout-outs.
This week it was especially easy to feel smug, as our neighbour to the South struggled to replace its President while working through a messy and mixed-up system of 51 independently-run electoral systems. Watching the drama unfold, waiting for days for Nevada to resume counting their ballots, our quaint constitutional monarchy suddenly felt magnificently efficient.
Now that it’s finally sorted out – and we’re all way too deeply familiar with the demographics of Clayton County and Maricopa – where does this leave us Canadians?
The past four years have not been easy dealing with our biggest trading partner. As The Guardian points out, President Trump, “feuded with Trudeau, calling the prime minister ‘two-faced’. He has slapped tariffs on aluminum and steel and forced a redrafting of the continent’s free trade agreement. He has called into question Canada’s critical alliances such as Nato, and the missile defence system Norad,” and “failed to stand up for Canada during diplomatic rows with China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
Perhaps most alarming, as The Toronto Star reminds us, was when the Trump administration tried “to stop face masks from being shipped to Ontario in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It’s little wonder that a recent Environics poll found Canadian sentiment towards the US at its lowest point in 40 years.
Certainly, President-Elect Joe Biden appears to have a more conciliatory nature than his soon-to-be predecessor. Biden has promised to rejoin the Paris climate change pact. This would require US energy companies to face the same kind of regulation and taxes that Canadian companies do, putting us on a more competitive footing. If Biden pursues cleaner and more renewable energy sources, Canada will be motivated to up our own game. The Keystone XL Pipeline, formerly cancelled by President Obama and then VP Biden, could come under review again, although ongoing sanctions on Venezuela might slow that roll.
One of the most obvious issues between our two countries right now is our border, which has remained closed since March. Coronavirus infections in the US are breaking new record highs, and until rates drastically drop on both sides of the border, it will not re-open. With so much trade, cross-border commerce and families being impacted, it is heartening that the new president appears to have a strategy for urgently getting the pandemic under control in his country.
A leader whose first priority is protecting the lives of his electorate will be a very welcome change indeed. We have every reason to be optimistic, albeit in our signature, cautious, Canadian sort of way – just the way we like it.