Thursday, 08 November 2012
Relations between Canada and the United States will likely maintain a status quo during the next four years under President Barack Obama, who won re-election on Tuesday, says a University of Lethbridge political scientist.
Geoffrey Hale also believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government will stay with its policy of "strategic pragmatism" to manage bilateral issues between the neighbouring countries.
In his new book "So Near Yet So Far: The Public and Hidden Worlds of Canada-U.S. Relations," released Nov. 1, Hale says Washington is preoccupied with shifting global power, economic issues and the prospect of continuing political trench warfare and won't look at major ideas with Canada, despite a renewed timeframe for Obama.
"Probably the most significant set of issues will arise from how Congress chooses to deal with the so-called fiscal cliff that was designed to force some kind of compromise on deficit reduction," Hale said in an email to The Herald while stuck at the Calgary International Airport Wednesday.
He has five book appearances scheduled in Ontario through next week.
"It is always easier for American politicians to shift the burden of adjusting to budget cuts (or higher taxes) on to foreigners," he continued.
"The kind of closed-door decision-making needed to cut a deal will make it harder for Canadian diplomats in Washington to secure accommodation of Canadian interests - especially on things like customs fees and surcharges for travellers from Canada."
Hale, who has been at the U of L since 1999, based his latest book on extensive research and close to 200 interviews with current and former Canadian and U.S. government policy makers, opinion shapers and interest group leaders.
He said even if Republican Mitt Romney had won on Tuesday, the impact to Canadians would have remained similar.
"There was not much difference between the two presidential candidates on major issues relating to Canada," Hale said.
"However, the realities of Canadian domestic politics make it easier for the Harper government to work with a liberal Democratic administration than a Republican one due to Mr. Obama's relative popularity in Canada."
The proposed Keystone pipeline remains an open question, Hale says, until the Nebraska government approves an alternative route, although it is expected to do so.
"The Democratic Senators from the Great Plains states all favour building Keystone XL," he said.
"However, it is not yet clear how this decision will factor into President Obama's decision, which have always been about domestic politics more than relations with Canada."
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