What will Canada Do With Barack Obama?

In case you didn’t know it was the 21st century, America has just elected Barack Obama, the first African-American President. Personally, I think this turn of events benefits everyone, even Non-Americans like me. It isn’t going to matter exactly what kind of President he is, the fact that Obama got elected the way he did is enough to rewrite the playbook on political campaigns. A vivid and compelling vision of your city, province or country is a requirement for any run for office. Now that we have the internet, that vision can be as vivid and compelling as you want. You can have as much information out there as you want, and the candidate with the most information wins. This increases voter confidence and energizes your core base. Early statistics place US voter turnout at 70-80 percent. Forget that there is a black US president, that number is an even greater achievement!

However, since Canada’s relationship with the US still resembles that of a humpback whale and a cluster of barnacles, a change in regime should always be a concern. The US Ambassador warned the Fraser institute that Canada will miss Bush if Obama wins the election. I’m sure we will miss Bush just as much as that lovely 30% duty he decided to put on our softwood lumber exports.

Obama’s site says that he will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to change NAFTA in such a way that benefits America’s workers. The campaign promise is vague in a way that’s unsettling. Is he appealing to his democrat base, or is this a vision of things to come? Of course, there are also elements within Canada that believe we got the raw deal on NAFTA. Perhaps if all parties meet on the basis of a shared distrust of the agreement, some common ground can be found and a better NAFTA will result.

No matter what Obama’s actions as president we’ll be, it’s a sure bet that he will think of his own people first. We should ask nothing less of our own parliament. However, we should take solace in the fact that he got to where he is right now by listening to the people around him, rather than just hiding behind his talking points. Where his opponents demanded obedience, he demanded inventiveness and passion. If he invites Canada to join in his plans for the future, he will do it by trying to inspire that same inventiveness and passion. Even if he turns out to be an adversary to Canada’s interests, the only way we’ll do right by Canada is if we respond with a strong vision of Canada and our place in the world. Either way, we come out with the Canada we wish for.