I seem to be getting off to a slow start with this blog. I have lots ideas, thoughts and opinions to share but don’t seem to be able to put them down here – instead, my desk is covered with post-it notes and other scraps of paper that I write on instead. Hopefully, publishing my thoughts will get easier for me…but I think that’s a topic for another blog.
Regardless of my “blogging block”, on the eve of the U.S. election, I couldn’t resist jotting down a few of my thoughts. According to a number of articles I have read about the U.S. election, many Canadians feel that John McCain would be a better choice for Canada, in large part because he wouldn’t open up NAFTA. I’m going to quote a good friend here and say “seriously?!”.
I am not an economist nor an expert on free trade, but I’m not convinced that NAFTA is good for Canada. At the time NAFTA came into being, Canada was the largest trading partner with the U.S. and although we still hold that position today, we are losing ground to both India and China, two countries that do not have free trade agreements with the U.S. Many economists state that economic benefits of export growth are due to the low Canadian dollar, not NAFTA – when our dollar rebounded, export growth benefits declined.
Apparently, the U.S. is our sole external customer for oil from our oil sands projects which makes NAFTA supporters nervous at the thought of jeopordizing trade relations with the U.S. First of all, this seems like a very bad business model. Perhaps we need to worry less about what the U.S. wants to do with NAFTA and put more thought into establishing a cost-effective way to get our oil to other customers. Secondly, I would not be disappointed if an Obama-led government forced Canada to pursue greener energy sources more quickly than they are doing now under our current Harper government.
As Canada is consistently among the top sources for U.S. oil imports, and it is the largest source of U.S. natural gas and electricity imports, we are in a position of negotiating strength so I say, open up NAFTA. Besides, there are some conversations we need to have about softwood lumber…
So, back to the original question: who should Canadians “vote” for? I will be cheering for Obama all the way. Although I don’t believe that opening up NAFTA is a bad thing for Canadians, I do believe that continuing with Bush’s approach to global policy, which McCain has pledged to do, would be a disaster for the world. I can’t support someone who thinks that war is a negotiating tactic, that poverty is acceptable collateral damage and that supporting social programs is the equivalent of communism.