At Issue panel: The U.S. election and Canada

Less than a week from a U.S. election involving a stark choice between candidates, CBC's At Issue panel on The National of Andrew Coyne, Robert Fife and Rosemary Barton discussed the ramifications for Canada.

The ramifications of a win by Trump and Clinton, and does the Comey letter have a Canadian comparable?

At Issue | A Trump presidency

7 years ago
Duration 14:41
Featured VideoWhat happens if Donald Trump wins the election?

At Issue panelists Andrew Coyne, Robert Fife and Rosemary Barton joined Peter Mansbridge on Thursday to take on the pressing question of what the repercussions will be after the result of next week's U.S. election, and how the outcome could affect Canada.

The prospect of a Donald Trump victory on Nov. 9, the panelists agreed, is the burning topic of conversation these days in Ottawa.

Fife, Ottawa bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, cited three major concerns expressed around the House of Commons should Trump win. An immediate impact would be a significant hit in global markets, most believe, with long-term concerns the shaking up of traditional geopolitical alliances — Trump has show little interest in what he sees as asymmetrical U.S. involvement in NATO and NORAD — and the Republican candidate's interest in doing away with NAFTA and imposing a significant tariff on automobiles produced outside of the U.S.

Barton, host of CBC's Power and Politics, said some politicians in Ottawa are choosing the optimistic view, believing that once the election is over, "good sense will prevail" in the form of senior White House officials and affected state senators stressing the significance of a cooperative relationship with Canada, especially economically.

She also pointed out that while the depth of concern isn't that same, many politicians in Ottawa don't know all that a Hillary Clinton presidency would entail, in particular her murky position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

National Post columnist Coyne said he's less troubled by what Trump's policies might be, given the constraints that may be imposed on him by the U.S. Congress, than his character judgment and temperament.

"You've just never seen anybody so manifestly unfit and unqualified for the job," he said.

On the subject of U.S.-Canada trade, Coyne believed Clinton would stick within established, comfortable parameters for the Liberal government and be generally in favour of globalization, despite some protectionist sentiments she's expressed to voters on the campaign trail.

While Coyne said that Canada might rank lower on the priority list for Trump given his frequent criticisms of U.S. trade relationships with Mexico and China, Fife said the impact of a president who "doesn't understand the global economy, the Canadian economy [and] the North American economy," would be damaging to Canada regardless of whether our country was the main focus of Trump's protectionist policies.

Finally with the respect to the U.S. election, the panelists were asked whether there was any similarity between RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli announcing a criminal investigation into the Liberal government handling of income trusts in the middle of the 2006 election, an election that saw the Conservatives return to power after more than a decade, and FBI director James Comey releasing a letter 12 days before the election indicating that more emails had been discovered that might be pertinent to the investigation into Clinton's email server, which had been closed.

All three panelists, while seeing the broadstroke similarities, were keen to point out the specific differences between the two cases. Barton and Fife leaned towards the Zaccardelli announcement being 'more' unprecedented, with Barton and Coyne expressing the belief that Comey was in a difficult position, as he would have also been criticized if the development had inevitably been leaked to the media.

Follow the U.S. election on Tuesday, Nov. 8 with CBC News

CBC online: Our day starts first thing in the morning at cbcnews.ca with news and analysis, then as polls close you can get live results and insights into the conversations happening on the ground and online. We'll cover the story from a Canadian perspective all day until a new U.S. president is declared.
CBC Television:  America Votes, the CBC News election special with Peter Mansbridge, starts at 9 p.m. ET on CBC-TV and CBC News Network.
CBC Radio One: Our election special hosted by Susan Bonner and Michael Enright starts at 8 p.m. ET.