Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Super Tuesday & us

As the Super Tuesday results continue to trickle in, when it comes to politics I can’t help but find myself so much more interested in what is happening in the US than I am in that of my own country. Perhaps a minority situation and the constant talk of an election without actually having one has left me bored with our status quo. Perhaps the uniqueness of the Clinton-Obama affair is simply worth watching. Whatever the case, the outcome of the US race has undeniable implications for Canada. With McCain running away on the Republican side, and with Clinton or Obama headlining the Democratic ticket – there are already some clear issues that Canadians can take note of, irrespective of who wins the Presidency.

Each of the three frontrunners is committed to action on climate change, in developing comprehensive immigration reform, and in giving greater attention to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Environment …

On the environment, when it comes to taking aggressive steps and joining international frameworks, the Harper government has been steadfast in Canada’s opposition to recommended action plans unless major developing country emitters (read: China & India) commit themselves as well. China and India, in turn, remain opposed as long as the world’s biggest polluter, the US, remains a holdout. Barring any major upset from Mitt Romney down south, the US position on this will be changing as soon as a non-Bush is sworn in next January. As for us – if the Con’s remain in power next year and the US/China/India all embark on a new path, the pressure to fall in line and adopt a major shift in policy will be huge, and if they don’t I can’t wait to hear the reason!

Migration …

2007 saw a surge in the number of Latin American migrants entering Canada from the US following failed immigration reforms coupled with changing national security laws. All three leading candidates have similar calls out for "comprehensive immigration reform" involving various pathways to citizenship/legality for the millions already living and working in the US in an undocumented manner. As we saw last year, however, there is enormous opposition to such reforms in both the House and the Senate. Granted Bush is having trouble getting much of anything done these - but if a new President with a decent approval rating tries to push it through and still fails, then we can surely expect to see far greater numbers of migrants crossing the 49th parallel than we already have to date.

Afghanistan …

The Manley Report has certainly re-energized the debate about Canada's role in Afghanistan. The Conservatives want to stay, but only if they can recruit additional troop support from our NATO allies. The Liberals want to stay, but only if the primary focus of the mission(s) shifts from combat to economic development and rebuilding efforts. Even though the Iraq debacle has been at the centre of the foriegn policy debate in the US, each of the leading candidates have made efforts to pledge greater attention and resources into Afghanistan. The problem for us is that we won't know what the specific nature of that support will look like until 2009 - possibly long after our MPs have voted on whether we'll stay or go. But as we are making these choices, I do wonder the extent to which a changing mood from Washington is considered by those voting on this delicate issue.

As for the actual Super Tuesday results - all predictions held true in that it's neck and neck for Democrats. Clinton & Obama - two well liked candidates each with oodles of cash to spend ... good luck sorting this one out anytime soon! I only hope that the nominee actually gets selected by primary voters, and it doesn't come down to superdelegates and the backrooms of a brokered convention. But that would make for some good television:)