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UBC Professor explains the impacts of U.S. Election

The result of the U.S. Election is still in the air as a handful of states continue to count ballots.

No matter if Democratic candidate Joe Biden or Republican President Donald Trump wins, there will be a significant impact on Canada, British Columbia, and the Cariboo in many ways.

Richard Johnston, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, said that a Biden victory would restore most of the previous situation in terms of American relations with the rest of the world.

“Biden would probably rejoin the World Health Organization, rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, and any threat of leaving the World Trade Organization would be stopped. Canada benefits from a global multi-lateral institution. Having the United States back in those institutions and supporting them would be a good thing for Canada,” he said. “Also, Biden would not engage in the arbitrary measures, like, for example, stopping aluminum exports for so-called national securing reasons. In general, Biden is definitely better for Canada.”

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If President Trump were to get re-elected for a second term, it would be much of the same for Canada, and British Columbia Johnston noted.

“I think the trends of the last four years would continue and probably get worse,” he said. “Trump has threatened to leave the World Trade Organization, which is the organization that issues ruling on fair trade practices, protections anti-dumping. In general, when Canada has appealed those activities, the WTO has tended to fine in Canada’s favour, and the U.S. tends to go along. Trump has basically said that he doesn’t care, and he won’t go along with such things.”

Johnston said that for residents in B.C. and the Cariboo, the effects would mostly be felt with trade.

Biden has said that he would revisit some of the tariffs introduced and cancel Trump’s permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. Trump promises more oil drilling, more pipelines and less regulation.

Biden promises to implement more Buy American policies, and disputes like softwood lumber would not disappear. Biden says that he would drop some of Trump’s tariffs like steel and aluminum. He has also hinted he might, eventually, try negotiating U.S. re-entry into the pan-Pacific trade pact now known as CPTPP.

Trump’s administration would continue its transformative trade policy that includes lots of tariffs and duties that have had effects on B.C.

Johnston added that the President of the United States actually won’t have that much effect on Canada, but who controls congress will be more important.

“U.S. Policy is very important for B.C.’s trade and softwood lumber are a huge issue (especially in the Cariboo), but softwood lumber and most questions of trade policy where they have been going conflicts between Canada and the U.S. or B.C. and the U.S. have not been much affected by presidential politics,” he explained. “They are driven much more by congress, or by regionally concentrated interested that find a voice in Congress.”

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