Kitchener-Waterloo

Why Canadians should care about what happens in the U.S. presidential election

The U.S. election can seem like a tiresome process that has little to do with Canada, but whoever the Americans vote for as their next president will impact people in Waterloo Region, says one political researcher.

'We're sleeping next to an elephant, so when they shift in bed, we feel it,' says researcher

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are campaigning to become the next president of the United States and one researcher says Canadians should watch with interest. (Aaron Josefczyk/Reuters, Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The U.S. election can seem like a tiresome process that has little to do with Canada, but whoever the Americans vote for as their next president will impact people in Waterloo Region, says one political researcher.

"We're sleeping next to an elephant, so when they shift in bed, we feel it," research associate Simon Palamar said Tuesday on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.

Palamar works in global security and politics at Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo. While he admits the U.S. electoral process can seem long and gruelling, he told host Craig Norris that whatever happens on Nov. 8 will be felt in Canada.

"We do too much business with them [for it not to]," Palamar said.

"It's very much a region that's dependent on business with the outside world," Palamar said, calling U.S. politics a "pocketbook issue" for many residents. "A lot of businesses in Waterloo Region rely on that steady, predictable trade with the United States."

Not only is the U.S. Canada's biggest trading partner, it's the largest economy in the world. And in a part of Canada that is so heavily dependent on technology and innovation that relies on trade relationships to reach its full potential, American leadership is especially important for those who live or work in Waterloo Region, according to the researcher

Not your typical race

But this year's U.S. electoral campaign has been anything but predictable, at least with the Republican Party. Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has become the party's presidential nominee, which is making things interesting for those who follow politics. 

"He's very entertaining, he's a bolt out of the blue. Whether you like him or not, he's a departure from the norm in American politics," Palamar said.

"There's excitement, anger, anxiety, fear about Donald Trump, but I think there's a lot of ambivalence," he added. 

As a trusted ally and neighbour, Canada will have to be ready and responsible to however the U.S. chooses to move forward, and not just in terms of the economy. Palamar said U.S. leadership will affect Canadian foreign policy, as well. 

"When we go to war, when we send troops to dangerous places, we almost always go alongside the Americans," he said.

If the Americans choose Hillary Clinton as their next president Palmater said he expects the course will remain largely the same for Canadians as a continuation of the policies put forward by incumbent President Barack Obama. 

But uncertainty prevails, with Trump in the ring of contenders. He's a man with no political background who has talked about getting rid of the North America Free Trade Agreement, a move that directly impact a huge swath of Canadians.

"No one knows," Palamar said of what Trump may do if elected. "And that's the real wildcard."

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