Well, kids, there’s a new sheriff in town….
Not here. No, up in that vast cold territory to the north of us, the land of moose, beaver and ice hockey known as Canada. The country held a national election last week, in which the incumbent prime minister was ousted by a political dilettante.
So, today’s Question is: Who is Canada’s prime minister elect?
a.) Stephen Harper
b.) Thomas Mulcair
c.) Justin Bieber
d.) Justin Trudeau
Stephen Harper is the current long-serving incumbent prime minister and leader of Canada’s Conservative Party. But don’t let the party’s moniker fool you, as Canada is a left-leaning country and Harper is about as conservative as Bill Clinton. So, Harper, even though not particularly close to either former Republican President George W. Bush or current Democratic President Barack Obama, managed to toe a middle line and helped maintain reasonable U.S.-Canada relations for the past 10 years.
Thomas Mulcair was the third-place finisher in the election. Leader of the New Democrat Party, Mulcair is about as “left” as one gets in mainstream Canadian politics. In fact, this party’s moniker is also suspect as it should be called the New Socialist Party. Had Mulcair won, his policies and governing style would likely alienate America and probably have led to a U.S. nickname for him something along the lines of “Hugo Chavez of the North.”
Justin Bieber is a famous pop star from Canada, and sure, had he been on the ballot he undoubtedly would have scored some of the youth vote, but this Justin as Canada’s prime minister would be like Americans voting in Tila Tequila for president.
Justin Trudeau is the prime minister elect. A member of Canada’s Liberal Party, he is going to be running that cold territory for at least the next few years, and will in part dictate whether Canadian-U.S. relations continue in good standing. The Liberal Party, which lies pretty much left of center, is where it is supposed to be on the political spectrum, and there’s no reason to believe that Justin will not get along with the Democrats in Washington. The Republicans, though, and a Republican president, should one win the election in 2016, might have some issues with young Justin. Though we trust that any such issues would not be enough to thoroughly trash the long-standing good relations enjoyed by the two countries.
One of Justin’s first acts will be to pull Canada out of active participation in the U.S. led coalition against Islamic State. While having a close ally pull out of the fight might seem cowardly, it’s not like Canada’s contribution–six obsolete attack jets and a few hundred soldiers–was going to tip the scales either way in the fight. And Canada being Canada, will undoubtedly replace its military commitment with an equal measure of humanitarian aid to those displaced by the war. From what we understand, President Obama has already forgiven Justin for pulling out, and any potential future Republicans in power will likely have no problem living with it.
And speaking of humanitarian aid, Justin has already promised to take in thousands and thousands of Syrian refuges. This will not have a direct impact on U.S.-Canadian relations, but the U.S. has been concerned about Canada being both a haven for terrorists, and a back-door entryway for them, since the early days of the War on Terror. Thus, border control issues, which are already sometimes painful with tit-for-tat measures between the countries, could become a source of greater contention.
Actually, due to another Justin promise, the border could get downright ugly….
Justin, you see, has promised to legalize the use and sale of marijuana, a promise, that if kept, would put Canada at significant odds with America’s ongoing War on Drugs. We’re guessing that President Obama, who hasn’t sent the Feds into Washington or Colorado with their marijuana legalization efforts, will keep a low profile on the issue when Canada goes legal. However, should the Republicans gain the White House, things could get very ugly, especially given that most Republicans still maintain a zero tolerance stance.
We’re not trying to debate the pros and cons of marijuana legalization here, we’re just pointing out that Justin Trudeau is taking the debate to a new level, as Canada will likely become the first country in the world to allow nationwide legal use and sale of marijuana. Whether America will be accepting of this or whether it leads to trade sanctions or worse remains to be seen.
This issue then, is likely to be among the biggest determinants of the future of U.S.-Canadian relations.
So, Hash-It-Out! When Canada legalizes marijuana how should America react?
b.) Watch and monitor to see if such legalization should be adopted by the U.S.
c.) Close the border and impose sanctions until those dumb, pothead Canucks relent.
or, d.) Use it as a pretext for invasion. The Canucks are almost American anyhow and would welcome us with open arms.