Vive Le Canada

Election could throw U.S.-Canada relations into tailspin
Date: Friday, November 03 2006

Election could throw U.S.-Canada relations into tailspin

Deirdre McMurdy
The Ottawa Citizen

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We bought President George W. Bush a belt buckle for his birthday. He called our prime minister "Steve." We settled the softwood lumber dispute.

For most Canadians, that file is now closed and Canada-U.S. relations are generally considered to be back on track after years of edginess.

But all that could change on Nov. 7 when elections are held that could see the Democrats re-gain control of the House of Representatives and possibly even the U.S. Senate.

The Republicans have held a majority in the House since 1995 and the Democrats need more than 15 seats to gain control. (It's also worth noting that 36 state governors will also be elected on Nov. 7.)

By any measure these days, Canada isn't terribly high on the American political agenda.

"There's so much acrimony in the U.S. these days, Canada isn't very high on our acrimony radar screen," notes Gordon Giffin, former U.S. ambassador to Canada. "The senior political levels in Washington are just glad they can meet Canadian officials and no longer face the softwood rants over and over."

Still, even with softwood settled, a shift of power in the House of Representatives could have major implications for Canada.

For one thing, Democrats have a long tradition of being much harder on free trade and more inclined to listen to those who lobby for domestic protection of their markets.

That inclination would be greatly exaggerated, furthermore, if predictions of a softening of the U.S. economy come to pass. Economic downturns have historically led to a more contentious tone on trade issues.

Another cross-border file that could flare if the Democrats prevail in the House is the importation of lower-priced Canadian pharmaceuticals into the U.S. Although the practice is currently illegal in the U.S., the Democrats have promised to repeal that law and allow the flow to increase.

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

The URL for this story is: