Editorial: Canada has a lot riding on U.S. election

Published on September 30, 2016

From Hillary Clinton's Twitter account, Sept. 27: "When you have a really, really good night."

©Twitter

We don’t have a contender in the race, but we’re fascinated by the homestretch of the run to the White House.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are having a no-holds-barred battle to become the next president of the United States.
And Canadians are eating it up.
It’s what we’re talking about at Tim Hortons and sharing on Facebook.
Why?
Because it’ got all the elements of a great political drama (or French farce, some might argue).
There are great characters: the polarizing Trump and the less-than-perfect Clinton. These protagonists are stranger than fiction and enjoy A-list celebrity status. He’s a mega-rich tycoon and reality TV villain. She’s an overtly ambitious politician and the wife of a former president.
And there are consequences as the storyline plays out. Trump wins and a turbulent world seems destined for more division and confusion. Clinton takes the presidency and becomes the first female to hold that office, the first woman to be considered the most powerful person on the planet. (On the latter, we say, “Bring it!”)
While most Canadians are watching this drama unfold for the entertainment value, they should also be paying attention because the outcome of this election will impact them.
The U.S. is our biggest trading partner and our economy is heavily dependent on theirs.
Trump believes trade has smothered the U.S. economy, stating,  “NAFTA was the worst trade deal in the history — it’s, like, the history — of this country.” He’ll be looking to change or kill that agreement if elected. His intent obviously wouldn’t be to improve or even help the Canadian economy.
Clinton, too, has been voicing opposition to trade deals, specifically the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she originally supported). Given that, and with discontent towards trade festering among Americans, it’s unlikely she’ll be too willing to foster better trade relations with Canada. Expect the opposite, some say.
“… While Ms. Clinton isn’t overtly hostile to NAFTA, and won’t insist on reopening it, given public sentiments, her administration will be forced to show toughness with Canada and Mexico on trade issues,” Lawrence Herman, a senior fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute, wrote in the Globe and Mail earlier this week.
So while it’s fun to sit back and watch Trump and Clinton go toe to toe, and then to talk about it, we should also be looking on with concern.
If the U.S. economy starts stagnating or losing steam, based on their campaign rhetoric, both Trump and Clinton will be scrutinizing trade with this country and looking for opportunities to make America great.
That won’t be so entertaining and it’s why we should pay as much attention to their positions as their polemic.