Short Answer: Its cheaper than paying for cable and watching the Kardashians.

Long Answer: You know the old addage that the US sneezes and Canada catches the cold? That is essentially it.

The US economy is so big, and so global, that even local politics have a way of having ramifications outside of the US. The US imports resources from all over the world in order to feed the beast. Those resources represent jobs, technology, ideas, friends, family, knowledge, innovation. And in a globally connected world, those relationships are stronger and more ever present than they have been at any time in our world history. 

  • My social media feed is based on US companies and technology;
  • The technology in my computer is based on innovation developed in the US;
  • The food on my table comes in part from US manufacturers;
  • Television programming and movies are influenced by US writers;
  • Religion is influenced by ideology as much from the US as it is from Rome, Mecca, Jerusalem, Varanasi, or Tibet;
  • Canadian politics are as much about responding to US domestic and foreign policy as it is about addressing problems here at home;
  • Opportunities for global economic advantages are biased towards how well and how much you can also work with US counterparts;
  • Drugs, medical devices, and therapeudic practices are heavily influenced by what happens in the US;
  • Production practices and industry standards are overwieghted towards US companies;

Don’t get me wrong. China is quickly coming up on also dominating the world view as well. However right now, pound for pound, what happens in the US consistently punches above its weight based on population. When the US society or economy destabilizes it creates ripples effects throughout the world and no more so than in Canada.

Yes, there are lots of areas where we differ. Political systems being one of the biggest ones. However when an organizations like the IEEE comes out with a new telecomunication standard, Canada and the rest of the world ends up having to fall in line as we don’t have a large enough voice at the table to control the agenda. That is just one of millions of examples where economic size mattes.

And even there, Canada often manages to punch above its economic weight simply because of that strong relationship with the US. So even though Canada benefits greatly from the relationship, its still all about the US.

Most countries are in a perpetual state of fight, flight, or freeze whenever something happens in the US because we are never sure of how something that was previously seemingly innocuous on the surface may stimulate some pent-up frustration that boils over and changes everything for good or not (BML, MeToo).

Things have a way of spiraling out of control wherein those outside of the US are robbed of thier voice even though they have skin in the game.

So yes, I realize that as a Canadian what happens in the US shouldn’t be any of my business. But it is because the US is not an isolated nation onto itself. It overlays itself on almost all aspects of the lives it touches that aren’t US citizens.

We don’t get a vote and that is okay. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be entitled to voice concerns when so much of what happens in the US can change our lives here in Canada in an instant without any direct representation to effect meaningful change.

That isn’t election meddling or interferrance. That is trying to constructively present another aspect for policy consideration which can strengthen those relationships to the benefit of everyone.

Rome fell in part because it allowed instability to rot it from within politically, while allowing increasing isolationism to dictate domestic and foreign policy, rather than incorporating a diversity of ideas and partnerships to turn advisaries into allies. No one wants to see that happen to the US as the ripple effect will inevitably push into other countries on multiple fronts. 

Dialog however requires being both informed, and an openness and willingness to view issues from all sides. Even if those sides are across the border. It doesn’t make those opinions less relevant, or less poignant.

So yes, Canadians do often become obsessed with US politics. That is mostly because its happening in our backyard whether we like it or not. We can either pay attention or be blindsided after the barn has burnt down. So don’t blame us for wanting to point out where the smoke is coming from before the barn has caught fire. Good neighbours help each other, not sit on the sidelines with mashmellows.

— Kevin Feenan



Leave a Reply