Three key U.S. election issues for Canadians
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 9:43AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 6, 2012 10:03AM EST
The U.S. ambassador to Canada says there are a number of key issues for Canadians to watch for as Americans head to the polls Tuesday, but the economy trumps them all.
Speaking to CTV’s Canada AM on election day, Ambassador David Jacobson said although he has to sit on the sidelines as a non-partisan observer during this election, he has closely watched the race and is excited to see the outcome.
For Canadians, Jacobson said, the most important question to ask is which candidate -- U.S President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney -- has outlined the policies which will best benefit the American economy and, by extension, our own, since it depends heavily on our neighbour to the south.
Jacobson on the economy:
One area where the two candidates are most clearly divided, Jacobson said, is with respect to the road maps they have outlined for fixing the U.S. economy.
While Obama has laid out a path that includes investing in infrastructure and education as a strategy to boost the economy, Romney prefers to cut spending and taxes as a means to stimulate spending and kick-start the recovery process.
Jacobson, who worked on Obama's campaign in 2008 and was selected by the president to take on the ambassadorship, said Canadians must make up their own minds about which approach will most benefit our country.
"The most important thing we can do in the United States for Canada is to get our economic house back in order. And on this, President Obama and Gov. Romney have very divergent views,” he said. “Depending on who you think is going to get this thing right, get our economy back on track faster, that's who is better for Canada."
Jacobson on Canada-U.S. trade:
Jacobson also said both candidates value Canada as a vital trading partner, and both want to grow the relationship and increase the flow of business across the border.
Regardless of the outcome Tuesday night, he said, the relationship between Canada and the U.S. will remain strong.
"I think the relationship between Canada and the U.S. is an extraordinarily good one; it has been an extremely good one for quite some time. And if anything, the relationship has gone considerably up during the Obama administration," he told CTV anchor Lisa LaFlamme on Monday night.
Jacobson said he has been involved with a number of initiatives over the past four years to increase trade between the two countries, including the ongoing Beyond the Border initiative, which strives to increase security while also easing import-export processes.
The U.S. ambassador also listed efforts to ease the flow of traffic at key border points and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as ongoing initiatives to increase trade between Canada, the U.S., and their partners.
As a result, Jacobson said bilateral trade has gone up by 38 per cent in the past two years between our two countries. Exports from Canada to the U.S. went up by $41 billion last year alone. By comparison, exports from Canada to China only increased by $4 billion in the same period, he said.
"I think everyone needs to sit back, take a breath and realize the economic relationship between the United States and Canada, the trade relationship, is not only strong but it's growing."
Jacobson on energy:
Jacobson acknowledged the U.S. depends heavily on Canada for its energy. In fact, he described it as "the largest energy relationship” between any two countries in the world.
"Canada supplies all the electricity we import, it supplies 85 per cent of the natural gas we import and, somewhat shockingly, at least to Americans, Canada supplies 27 per cent of the oil we import. Second place is Saudi Arabia at 2 per cent. So this is a critical relationship and it will remain critical in an Obama administration, a Romney administration," Jacobson said.
But he acknowledged there are key differences in each candidate's approach. Obama delayed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which will carry oil from Alberta's oilsands to refineries on the Gulf Coast, in order to review the environmental impacts and consider alternative routes through Nebraska.
He has reserved making a decision on the project until after the election, though many observers believe the project will eventually go forward.
Romney, on the other hand, has said one of his first orders of business if elected would be to put the presidential stamp of approval on the project in order to protect the U.S. energy supply and reduce dependency on Mideast suppliers.