Many Canadians are watching their southern neighbour Tuesday and debating the impact on trade from the outcome of the midterm election.
The midterms happen every two years. U.S. voters choose the next Democrats and Republicans to lead their Congress and senate.
This could have an effect on trade deals between U.S. and Canada.
“Historically, Democrats are less free traders than the Republicans,” said Glenn Davis, vice-president of the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t get the sense during the last election that Democrats are hard and fast on blocking trade deals as they have in earlier days.”
The American Congress has all 435 seats available because congressmen only serve two-year terms. The U.S. senate only has 32 of 100 seats up for re-election as senators serve six-year terms and one-third of the senate is voted on every two years.
The United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement has yet to be approved by Congress. Robert Finbow, a Dalhousie University professor of political science, said if Democrats take Congress it’s possible they would block the new trade agreement.
“But change in the relationship will be marginal unless there is a change in the White House after 2020,” he said in an email to The Signal.
Finbow said President Donald Trump has been using “hardball tactics” on Canada.
In one tweet from Sept. 1, Trump threatened to cut Canada out of the new trade deal.
There is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal. If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out. Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2018
The midterm election is important for Democrats, especially in Congress. If Democrats win Congress, Finbow wonders what that would mean for the presidency in 2020.
Davis hopes the USMCA is approved, but he’s not worried about Tuesday’s outcome.
“If the Democrats were to block it, I am not aware that the current NAFTA agreement would expire. It’s not an end of the world scenario,” said Davis.
The Atlantic Chamber of Commerce sees free trade as an essential part of being in a relationship with the United States.
After the 2016 election of Trump, Destination Cape Breton capitalized on a viral website encouraging Americans to go to Cape Breton if Trump won.
Mary Tulle, CEO of Destination Cape Breton Association, doesn’t expect the midterms to have a similar impact because she doesn’t know “how much is resonating on that level.”
Polls close Tuesday evening at different times between 6 p.m. and 9 p m. local time. Results are expected to come in soon after.
Forty per cent of Americans aged 18 to 29 are likely to vote, according to a study from the Harvard Institute of Politics. The last time midterm turnout was above 20 per cent was 1994.