It was bound to happen. What is surprising is not that it happened but the fact that how a Barack Obama administration with a Democrat congress would adversely affect Canada became obvious less than two weeks after the 44th president of the United States was, albeit awkwardly, sworn in to office.
A lot of Canadians, like Americans and the rest of the world were swept up in Obamamania. Obama’s approval ratings north of the border far exceeded those of our own leaders but given the current crop of federal party leaders, this is hardly surprising. It didn’t take long for reality to come crashing down.
The stimulus package that was introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate provided “Buy American” clauses that stated companies that receive federal funds for infrastructure will have to use American steel and other products. This constitutes not only a breach of NAFTA and the WTO but illustrates the desire of the current American administration towards protectionism. Although promises have been made to weaken the package’s Buy American clauses, the senate defeated an amendment made by Sen. John McCain (a mere mortal war hero who would be much better for Canada if he were in the White House) to remove the requirement to Buy American. It is too early to forecast exactly what the effect of all this will be in Canada but it won’t be good.
Canada has always done better when the United States had a Republican president and/or a Republican congress. But this fact doesn’t seem to matter to the left in Canada who, as Defense Minister Peter MacKay might say, were smitten with Barack Obama. And many of these Canadians are the ones who were the most virulently anti-American during the Bush administration. NDP leader Jack Layton is a good example of someone who goes on and on and on about the newly elected exalted one with nary a thought about how much damage an Obama administration can do to Canada’s economy. If we are not headed for a trade war, there will always be the specter of one while the Democrats hold almost unlimited power south of the border. This can come to no good at the best of times let alone now when it is at least trendy to say, is the worst economic time since the Great Depression.
What has happened in the earliest of days of the Obama presidency is just the tip of the iceberg. These same Canadians who idolize the new president are those who think that Canada is nothing without our system of socialized health care. And they love the fact that their newest and perhaps only American hero wants to move the U.S. medical system towards the Canadian model. Any significant expansion of government paid health care in the United States will result in millions of Americans who currently have no health coverage and little money being able to go to a doctor. When health care is “free” a lot of people end up going to the doctor when they are not feeling well, as opposed to when they are sick. Expansion of health care will result in a severe shortage of doctors in the United States. To get more qualified physicians, the Americans could look to Namibia or Djibouti but the smart money is on the fact that they will raid Canada first. However Americans expand their system of health care and to what extent they will not become the fourth country in the world (after Canada, Cuba and North Korea) to outlaw private medical services. Many Canadian physicians, who are nothing more than civil servants who have somehow been sucked into paying their own business expenses, will find offers from the U.S. attractive. And as Canada already has a doctor shortage it won’t take too many defections to substantially affect the quality of health care in the country. Those Canadians who constantly whine about our shortage of doctors while opposing any form of private health care are going to be in for a rude awakening when physicians begin heading south.
Those Canadians who worship at the feet of Barack Obama should remember one thing; he may be the Messiah, but he’s the Messiah of the United States.