Thursday, March 3, 2016

Trump and Canada

Yep, tis time for the quadrennial discussion of whether folks will move to Canada if their preferred candidate loses.  This time, well, I cannot blame them since the idea of a Trump presidency should scare pretty much everyone.

As the possibility of a Trump presidency now starts to get real (and I have been very wrong on this like most political scientists), Canadians are wondering what a Trump presidency would mean for Canada (because, well, Canada is self-centered... shush!).  And I have started getting media requests about this.

Why?  Because I am an American living in Canada?  Because I vent here and on twitter?  Because the journalism students at Carleton could not find anyone else with an open door yesterday?

Anyhow, what does a Trump Presidency mean for Canada?
  1. If Trump wants to change the rules of engagement for American bombing missions, whether or not this sparks a crisis in US civil-military relations, it would not directly affect how Canada bombs.  Countries have consistently maintained different rules for acceptable collateral damage (the US rules change all the time), so, sure, Canada could participate in a coalition or NATO mission but behave differently than a Trump-led US.
  2. However, operating with a US that seeks to kill the families of terrorists would probably be unacceptable so Canada would probably opt out of US-led missions with these kinds of tactics in place.  And that is nothing new either, as Canada opted out of Iraq 2003.  Oh, and I doubt that NATO would agree to join in US ops under such rules either--consensus will still be required to get NATO to act.  [Undermining the war against ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups would be a bigger, more substantial problem]
  3. US-Canada trade might suffer.  Who knows as Trump's stances change regularly.  But as a avowed protectionist, Trump might just try to toss out NAFTA (mostly due to his animus towards Mexico).  The problem for Trump is that this would mostly require legislation that he would probably not be able to get passed.
  4. The US economy might just tank, and that would be awful for Canada.  Economies depend on some degree of confidence in the political system--the more stable the system, the more confidence.  Trump's election would undermine the world's confidence in the US system. While that might reverse the decline in the Canadian dollar relative to the American dollar, a deep recession in the US would be just awful, awful, awful for Canada.
  5. Heaps of Americans fleeing north.  Um, no. Some might and those potential immigrants aiming to go to the US may choose Canada instead.  But Canada has immigration procedures and a higher unemployment rate.  So, no, folks will not flood northwards (it is also cold here).  While some might think of a Trump presidency being akin to World War Z (Americans flee north since the cold stops the zombies), the reality is that the political system would limit Trump's impact.  So, folks would wait until he gets impeached or loses in four years.
So, the greatest threat of a Trump Presidency to Canada is that the economy would take a nosedive, and that is serious.  But also temporary.  

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