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
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."
"We live in a francophone province in a francophone city from a legislative perspective, but the reality of Montreal is far different," the leader of Mouvement Montréal said in an interview with MTL Blog.
"So, for us, it was important to re-establish the identity of Montreal, which is one that is inclusive."
"We want to make clear that we want companies on the Island of Montreal to be able to operate in both languages without interference from the provincial government," Holness said.
And it calls for a review of the city's hiring processes to allow anglophones with "functional-level, but not high-level, French" to land municipal jobs.
He would also amend article 13 of the city charter to change Montreal from "a French-speaking city that, according to the law, also provides services to its citizens in English," to a bilingual one.
A lot of people agree, Holness says
"This is not a contested question," Holness said, citing a survey showing most Montrealers believe the city is bilingual. "We all know Montreal is bilingual and multicultural and it is something that we should embrace and recognize."
"Moreover, Montreal beyond that is even trilingual," he continued. "There are people from all over the world who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian. And all of these languages make up the diversity of Montreal, and it enriches us all."
Rather than contributing to the decline of French in Montreal, Holness said his language policies would help preserve it by offering non-francophones incentives to learn.
"The fact that we are going to incentivize and ameliorate the chances of anglophones to work in the City of Montreal means they'll be able to learn French through their employment activity," he said. "We're going to be increasing la francisation des anglophones."
"Right now, what's happening is that we're excluding anglophones," he continued. "They're moving to demerged cities such as Westmount, such as Côte Saint-Luc, such as Kirkland. They're not being incorporated into the reality and to the economic life of Montreal, and we're just pushing them all away."
Holness wants more jobs for people with spotty French
If elected, Mouvement Montréal would work to create a more inclusive municipal workforce because it's currently falling short in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity, he said.
Of the city's roughly 25,000 municipal employees, "only about 2% of those in management positions are visible minorities and even less of those are anglophone," Holness claimed.
To change that he plans to lower the French language requirements for municipal jobs.
"Right now, when you go in for a [municipal] job, there is an evaluation based on your capacity to speak French," he said.
"So, we want to create assessments and evaluations of language that are less severe to allow individuals to get into the workforce. And then they can learn French, once they are on the job, through their interactions with their coworkers and with the public."
"The idea is that anglophones, especially those that are visible minorities, should have an easier time getting into the workforce," he continued.
'They don't want to be inclusive'
On November 7 people will vote to elect a mayor as well as 46 members of Montreal's City Council.
The current mayor, Projet Montréal's Valérie Plante, is seeking re-election and her main challenger is the previous mayor, Ensemble Montréal's Denis Coderre.
As Plante recently introduced an "action plan" to promote the French language in Montreal and Coderre is reportedly open to provincial government-led language reform, Holness accused his opponents of trying to impose provincial ideas on the metropolis.
"Valérie Plante is from Rouyn-Noranda, Denis Coderre is from Joliette," he continued. "And there's this whole idea that the regions are imposing on Montreal their vision for Montreal. And the question is, what do Montrealers want for their city?"
"Many people across the region say Montreal is the only francophone city in North America, and they're right, but Montreal also has a bilingual multicultural reality," he said. "So you have Quebec City trying to impose an identity on Montreal does not meet reality, which is multilingual and multicultural."
"We need a multilingual and multicultural policy and beyond that, a political party that reflects that diversity through and through," he added.
Projet Montréal does not reflect that diversity, he concluded, explaining how he helped organize a grassroots anti-racism movement, which he says prompted the city's public consultation agency to hold a series of hearings on systemic discrimination in 2019.
As a result, Plante created a commissioner on systemic discrimination and promised to hire more minorities for municipal jobs. But Holness had sharp words for the mayor, saying she only took those steps out of "obligation."
"The reason why there was a public consultation on systemic racism and discrimination is because the administration had an all-white French executive committee when they were elected in 2017. Period. That's their vision of Montreal," he said.
"They don't want to be inclusive," he said. "Mouvement Montréal, my political party, is by its very nature, authentically diverse. We've done in two months what it took them nearly two decades to do, which is have a diverse team."
Mary Simon's approval rating is lower in Quebec compared to the rest of Canada, a poll released Wednesday showed, because the new governor general can't speak French.
An Angus Reid Institute poll of 2,049 Canadians found only 49% of Quebecers approve of her appointment compared to 74% of respondents in the rest of the country.
"Despite being from Nunavik (the Inuit homeland in Northern Quebec), and having been awarded the [province's] highest distinction, many Quebecers remain unconvinced Mary Simon is the best choice for governor general due to her lack of fluency in French," stated the Angus Reid Institute.
"Support is cleaved along linguistic divides in the only majority Francophone province in Canada," it continued, as only 40% of Quebecers whose first language is French approve of her appointment compared to 81% of English speakers.
Though Simon, the country's first Indigenous governor general, is not currently fluent in French, she has promised to learn, Angus Reid stated.
A startling 46% of seafood samples sold in restaurants and grocery stores in four major Canadian cities were mislabelled, according to a report published Wednesday by the non-profit group Oceana Canada.
Often, low-cost knockoffs were pawned off as fancy fishes; out of a total of 94 samples, all 24 of butterfish, yellowtail and white tuna were mislabelled and over half of the samples labelled snapper was actually tilapia, "a much cheaper" fish.
Furthermore, there were 10 occasions where products labelled butterfish or tuna turned out to be escolar, a fish that "can cause acute gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and nausea and is banned from sale in several countries," according to a news release.
Despite promises to tackle the issue, seafood fraud has been an ongoing problem in Canada. Oceana's multi-year DNA testing study found the Canadian city with the most fake fish was Montreal, where 52% of the samples were mislabelled, though Ottawa and Toronto did nearly as poorly, with mislabelling rates of 50% each.
Sayara Thurston, a seafood fraud campaigner, highlighted the need for better traceability systems to detect foul fish before they hit our dinner plates. "Buying fish shouldn't be a guessing game. Canadians deserve to have confidence in the seafood they eat."
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
If you aren't already psyched to watch Canadian athletes win gold at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games, here's a whole new reason to be eager for Olympic glory: free doughnuts.
For every gold medal Canada wins, Laval-based pastry chain Mr. Puffs is giving away five free honey and cinnamon or sugar and cinnamon Puffs, which are bite-sized Greek-style doughnuts, at any one of their stores.
This means that you, too, can enjoy the sweet flavour of victory from the comfort of your own home, without the need for incredible natural talents and years of body-shredding, sweat-inducing training.
According to the company website, Puffs are traditional Greek doughnut holes (called loukoumades), invented thousands of years ago by the ancient Greeks and enjoyed by Olympians of old.
If the win happens after 9 p.m. or overnight then the prize is valid the next day, so keep an eye out for news of athletic victories.
To win, all you have to say is, "go Canada, go!" at the cash register. The promotion ends August 8 and doesn't apply on any delivery platforms, so you'll have to make the athletic feat of getting to the store.