Canada keeping close eye on Obama administration

Mike Carson
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SUMMERSIDE - An international pipeline, freeing up border crossings, and the environment are just a few areas Canadians will be watching closely, following last week's U.S. election.

Peter McKenna, chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Prince Edward Island, said now that Barack Obama has been returned to office, issues affecting Canada need to be addressed.

"The most important issue would be the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is a proposal that was stalled by the Obama administration last spring," McKenna said. "That's the pipeline that was supposed to go from Alberta down to a series of oil refineries on the Gulf Coast. I think that's going to go ahead.

He suggested that, "It made sense for Obama to put that on the back burner to deal with the environmental constituency of the Democratic Party. It's not going to happen overnight, but I suspect in the next six to 12 months you're going to see the U.S. State Department come forward with a proposal to approve that pipeline."

The environment is one of two other American issues expected to impact Canada.

McKenna was surprised to hear Obama mention climate change in his victory speech, adding, "I'm not quite sure how serious the president is about this."

"That could have very real implications for Canada because Stephen Harper has essentially tied Canada's own climate change policies, positions or approach, to the United States. Whatever it is that the U.S. does, he has promised, essentially, to mimic that. That could have an impact on the oil sands in Alberta," noted McKenna. "Whatever new rules and regulations that Obama comes up with, with respect to reducing their carbon footprint and their reliance on fossil fuels, that obviously has an impact here in a very direct way, in particular to the oil-producing provinces."

Canadians will also be paying close attention to the border security perimeter agreement.

"This was an agreement signed last March between Canada and the United States which was supposed to open up the border and allow for a greater free flow of goods and travel between the two countries," McKenna said. "But, it would involve some sort of an exit-entry system where the United States would be tracking who is coming in the country and we would be tracking who is leaving our country."

McKenna believes this "will be an issue we will be taking up much more forcefully with Washington and I suspect Obama would be in agreement with that. I think that's going to be a plus for Canada."

A staggering U.S. debt and a Congress and a Senate that are divided, raises concern for Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

"They've got a $16-trillion debt and they're still spending lots of money," said Easter. "It's in our interest, very much in Canada, that they get that debt under control as we did in the mid-1990s. There are very tough decisions to be made."

Easter said debt control is necessary but at the same time, the American government must ensure they "have the social safety net to protect people in terms of health care and a number of other issues."

  See more on this story in Tuesday's Journal Pioneer

Organizations: Political Science Department, University of Prince Edward Island, Keystone XL Pipeline Democratic Party U.S. State Department

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Alberta Gulf Coast Washington

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  • Al
    November 13, 2012 - 18:18

    Under another 4 years of bad to government.....America is now like a pond of liquid pig manure...you have to hold your nose passing by and hope it drys up someday. Imagine any US employee of a company with more than 50 people will lose company insurance coverage plans Jan1 2014. With that hit it adds $1.79 per hour more to an employers costs so low income workers will be moved to part time or fired in order for the company to survive.Expect more US economic decline impacting Canada badly and a more bad news all the way around in coming years. Too bad but Canada has to distance itself from the US somehow or we'll get sucked into that foul mess even more.