Here's How Canada-US Relations Could Change Depending On Who Wins The Election

MTL Blog spoke with two experts about what's in store for us these next 4 years.
Here's How Canada-US Relations Could Change Depending On Who Wins The Election

With the U.S. presidential election in progress, Canadians from Quebec to B.C. are anxiously anticipating the results of what some are calling the most important American election in our lifetime. 

Though many of us are worried about the potential impacts of the U.S. election, experts say that while things are bound to change, relations between our two countries should remain stable no matter who wins — whether it be Joe Biden or Donald Trump. 

MTL Blog spoke with two experts about how the outcome of the election will affect Canada-U.S. relations.

Dr. Daniel Béland is a political science professor at McGill University and director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

Dr. Kathryn Friedman is a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and research professor at the University of Buffalo

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Would Canada-U.S. relations improve or worsen under a Biden presidency?

"Relations would certainly be different," said Dr. Friedman. 

"[Biden] has publicly stated many times his commitment to allies, his commitment to multi-national order and institutions." 

Overall, Dr. Friedman believes that Canada-U.S. relations will greatly improve under a Biden presidency. His strong personal relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would also be a huge boon to the relations between the two countries, she said. 

Dr. Béland agrees. He said "[relations] would probably improve in part because they would eliminate the uncertainty stemming from Trump’s unpredictable and sometimes confrontational behaviour."

Biden also has more ideological similarities to Trudeau, suggests Dr. Béland. While some disagreements would remain, the professor expects a return to "diplomatic normality" if Biden wins. 

What do the next four years look like if Trump wins? 

Relations "would remain unpredictable and dependant in part [...] [on] Trump’s arbitrary outbursts," said Dr. Béland. 

Dr. Béland also said he worries that because Trump can't seek re-election for a third term, the current president "would care even less about looking presidential and painting broader support beyond his base." 

Dr. Friedman, meanwhile, has a more optimistic view of another four years of Trump. 

"I think that [the relationship between Canada and the U.S] is resilient," she explained. 

"It'll rebound even after eight years of a Trump presidency. We need each other even though Trump may not appreciate [...] what Canada brings to the table. We will survive." 

The Worst-Case Doomsday Scenario

Dr. Béland envisions that "acute political instability leading to potential violence would constitute a nightmare scenario" in terms of how the two countries relate to each other. 

For Dr. Friedman, the pandemic and its consequences on the cross-border economy are a much more problematic situation right now. 

"Regardless of who's elected, the worst-case scenario would be that the pandemic intensifies," she said. 

"I don't think your government is interested in lifting the border restrictions until it's confident that we have the pandemic under control in the U.S. — whatever that means."