A local historian on the United States, who is familiar with the Pacific Northwest and its issues, says trade and travel between Canada and the U.S. will likely not change very much following Congressional elections in the United States.
Dr. Jason Colby, associate professor of history at the University of Victoria (UVic), said U.S. President Donald Trump will now find himself on the defensive after the Democratic Party won the House of Representatives, with the Senate remaining in control of the Republican Party following midterm elections in the United States Tuesday.
While Trump had been confrontational towards Canada on trade, he may have to change his approach. But Colby also added that Trump has proven himself to be unpredictable.
“He can still throw a wrench into the trade and travel between Canada and the United States,” he said.
Tuesday’s victory gives House Democrats the power to not only investigate Trump, but also various departments and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which stands accused of obscuring and obstructing scientific findings and research on a range of issues.
Democrats, including House representatives from Washington State, could now use their power, to push for greater accountability, leading to potential improvements on environmental files that affect both British Columbia and Washington State, including climate change and the eventual fate of southern resident killer whales.
“That’s probably positive,” he said.
However, the Democrats may also choose to pursue other priorities.
Catherine Holt, chief executive officer of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, said a good relationship with the United States is of “fundamental importance” to the local economy.
“The outcome of the midterm elections may lead to some reining in of recent damaging rhetoric about Canada,” she said. “The US is a major source of visitors for our tourism economy and the better Americans feel about us the more they will come. We also hope the change in power dynamics will be a positive factor in our trade relationship. The more stable and mutually beneficial our relationship with the U.S., the better it is for us as they are our country’s largest trading partner.”
Tuesday’s outcome in favour of the Democrats was not as overwhelming as anticipated, said Colby, who called the outcome a “standard victory” halfway through the term of an unpopular president.
It certainly did not match previous ‘wave’ elections like those in 1994 and 2010 when Republicans scored major victories, or 2006, when Democrats regained the House during the height of the Iraq War.
“But it’s still really significant,” he said.