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OBAMA|WOAH’Canada: The Obama Effect on Canada

23 Feb 2008

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I woke up on November 5, 2008 reborn; minus the amniotic fluid of course. I felt a heightened sense of euphoria, empowered. As of that day the world had much more to offer me. One thing it now offered was the belief that I could offer it much more than I could prior to November 5th. After I sipped my morning green tea I proceeded to hit the pavement for my morning jog.

Usually my first few trots are slow and arduous, as though I was running through fresh cement paste.  However, on this morning, this special morning, I ran as though I were running on a rubber track in candy land, or better yet cheese cake land; my weakness.

As I strode along the sidewalk the air felt fresher as it traversed my biological pathways and filled my lungs.  I ran with light feet and a cool head. I continued down my path and approached the familiar distant silhouettes of my fellow morning joggers.  

However, that morning as we passed each other to exchange our routine node of courtesy I had sensed within that greeting a mutual acknowledgement of “YES WE CAN”.  However, what kind of effect will Barack Hussein Obama’s Presidency have on Canada? 

I appreciate the enriched essence of hope that Obama’s nomination signals to all ethnic groups in Canada the U.S and internationally as well.   I mean, when or if I ever have a child, I can actually say to him or her that if you work real hard and stay focused you can possibly be the Prime Minister of Canada, assuming I don’t slide down the brain drain into the U.S.   

The fact is Obama is the soon to be P.O.T.U.S. (President of the United States) of America, not Canada.  During his term the policies of President-elect Obama will have a significant effect on Canadians.   

Let’s speculate. 

I wonder how much Obama knows about our vast country north of the border.  John McCain’s daughter actually works in Toronto while Obama has actually referred to our Prime Minister as the President of Canada.  I must admit that I have made this mistake on many occasions.  As a matter of fact I made the same mistake while I wrote this article.  Thank goodness for editors.   

Speaking of Prime Ministers, despite the fact that Obama is a Democrat,  our Prime Minister appears to be just as optimistic as many Canadians are about the role Obama will play in the future of Canadians.   Traditionally, Conservatives bedded with Republicans and Liberals with Democrats. Harper has welcomed Obama and America with open arms.  How could he not?   

Obama’s presidency is legendary and Harper is fortunate to share in history along side Obama during his tenure as President.  Harper has indicated that he wants to tell Obama that Canada stands ready as the best friend and partner of the United States.  Best Friend?  Alas, a term that is used so loosely in our modern day substance depleted society.  Just like the phrase “I love you”.  Oh where has all the realness gone?   

Anyways, that is for a different kind of column, and no I am not going there!  Moving on, those who I bless with the title best friend have my back in times of peril and I have theirs.  It’s not a one way street or as we say in law, there is consideration on both sides.  Canada has a reputation for wallowing in the residue of our friend’s successes like Turtle from HBO’s Entourage.  Watch the card game scene in 40 year old virgin if you need further clarification on this form of friendship.  However, our dependence on the U.S can also be detrimental to our well being. 

Early in the year Obama, during his long and resolute run for the Democratic leader nod stated his concerns about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  He indicated that he would like to renegotiate the terms of NAFTA as a means to protect jobs in the U.S.  However many analysts think that is unlikely and that any changes to NAFTA would impact Mexico instead.

Harper has said that the top issues that he would discuss with Obama are the economic crisis, the environment, energy security, international security and foreign policy.  

Harper appreciates that Obama wants to shift focus from Iraq to Afghanistan.  Canada has approximately 2500 troops there. Harper has set a 2011 deadline to withdraw our military from Afghanistan.  Despite Obama’s perceived haste to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan even Obama may put pressure on Harper to extend our military withdrawal past 2011.

I have read many articles which indicate that Obama is likely to take a protectionist approach when it comes to economic issues.  What does that mean?  It means that his initial plan of action will be to protect America’s economic interests rather than any other country, except maybe China. 

Our best friend owes a debt to some eastern collectors.  A trillion or so!  Big deal!  

Some economists claim that his protectionist stance can have a negative affect on Canada.  For instance, BMO Capital Markets economist Doug Porter says that Obama’s protectionist approach could affect the Canadian export industry.  Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at Royal Bank has indicated that our Canadian economy’s reliance on trade with the U.S can be infringed upon if America provides benefits to American companies for keeping employment in America.  Hogs!

Obama has displayed an aversive disposition towards dirty, dirty, dirty oil.  He would like to fight America’s dependence to dirty oil, which includes their dependence on oil from the Middle East.  Or so they say.  Duh Duh Duh!  Anyways, we better hope he does not have his eyes on the crude from Alberta oil sands or off them for that matter.  

It is one thing to say you would like to fight your oil addiction and another to actually do it; especially when no reasonable alternative exists.  Not the kind of problem that you can treat with a Patch. HELLO, MY NAME IS AMERICA AND I’M AN OIL ADDICT.  Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach said that he plans to work closely with the new U.S. administration to help meet its energy needs.  A nice way of saying that if you are going to use anyone’s dirty oil we are going to make sure that American’s use good ole dirty Canadian oil. 

Lately the current story that is attacking Obaminomics is the financial turmoil facing the big three of our domestic Auto sector, General Motors (GM), Ford and Chrysler.  General Motors aka GM aka Generally lay Me off one more time, has once again taken a financial dip.  Actually a dip is a huge understatement since it has always succumbed to dips and slips and falls in the last few years. 

This time GM is dodging an economic cross hook that could knock it into an abyss of no return. GM has recently announced that they will temporarily layoff 500 workers at its Oshawa, Ontario, car plants during the first week of 2009.  GM ships 95% of what they build to the United States.  GM reported a US $4.2 billion operating loss for the third quarter, and Ford Motor Co. a US $3 billion operating loss, as U.S. auto sales collapsed to 25 year lows. 

Analysts have claimed that Chrysler’s parent company Cerberus Capital Management LLP will sell the third-largest U.S. auto maker off or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  GM and Ford Motor Co. burned through more than $13 billion in cash combined during the third quarter and Chrysler’s sales performance was the worst of the three companies.  The third quarter cash burn came before October U.S. sales.  These sales were the worst for the companies in decades.

Economic Development Minister Michael Bryant indicated that Obama must formulate an agreement that will keep the Big Three automakers in Ontario.  Obama has mentioned that he would like to implement a fiscal stimulus package that includes a bailout for the U.S. auto industry.  Democratic leaders would like to use $25-billion of the $700-billion financial industry bailout to help GM, Ford and Chrysler. Wow, I can’t even borrow $10.00 from my Dad without a lecture.  Chrysler is begging for a rescue. 

Chrysler has taken proactive measures to cut costs.  They have announced the shut down of some assembly plants and a 23% cut in its salaried employee ranks.  They are still considering the shut down of two more of their plants.  Auto Analyst, Patrick Archambault has recently said that GM needs $22 billion U.S. in new capital between 2009 and 2012 and that the bulk of that amount needs to come from government funding or an alternative external source.  GM shares have even been downgraded to neutral by analyst Himanshu Patel of JP Morgan Case & Co. 

Anyone care to bail me out of my school debt, it’s just $70 grand, which is peanuts compared to what these companies ask for.  Any takers? No? No? Oh! Fine!

I am all for helping small businesses.  However, when I think about the only solution on the table to help auto makers I can’t help to wonder if we are watering a dead plant.  Will an auto industry bail out package make a difference?  Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona said it would be a mistake to use any of the Wall Street rescue money to prop up the auto makers. They said an auto bailout would only postpone the industry''s demise.

The first thing I think Obama needs to consider is whether consumers will actually consume automobiles if the auto sector gets the money they want.  For instance, one may argue that our economic crisis will encourage consumers to purchase fuel efficient vehicles, such as hybrids.  However, despite long term savings, poor people think in the short term. 

Rich people are concerned about not being rich anymore, middle class people think they are poor and poor people are…well…poor.  Senator Carl Levin, who supports an auto sector rescue plan, has even said that, “This is not a Big Three problem alone,” “This current crisis is a crisis in the economy where there is no credit available to purchase, and where people are not buying cars because they are afraid.” Everyone is entering a poor state of mind and seek short term survival. 

Someone who anticipates being laid off, or who has been laid off or who will need to put their request for a raise on hold are not likely to have a new car planned in their budget for long term savings benefits.  Among other things, the consumer is thinking how am I going to pay my bills now, buy food now, cover my current car loans now, my mortgage now?  Not what shiny new hybrid can I spend money on for long term savings?

Further, the anticipated cure may amplify the issue.  Analysts claim that an auto industry bailout package could encourage the merger of GM and Chrysler. A merger could lead to significant layoffs and plant shutdowns, including some in Canada, where GM and Chrysler employ about 30,000 people.  Things that make you say hmmm!  So they get the money, they may still file for bankruptcy or merge and still lay people off.  Sounds like an effort to postpone the apocalypse to me.  It’s like fixing a leaky pipe with bubble gum.

Obama is our modern day Rocky Balboa or Mr. "We'll win the game. I guarantee you" Joe Namath.  He is a symbol of endless possibilities for every man woman and child of all cultures. Hope is alive.  However, hope alone is not a solution to tangible problems.  To resolve problems that life throws at us hope must be combined with a positive vision, a strong effort and resilient will power.  Obama will rally Americans together in a joint concerted effort to resolve our current crisis.  He said that he needs their help.   

What does that means for Canada? 

Canada must implement proactive measures to ensure that America’s efforts to sustain itself will not have a negative effect on our economy or any of our concerns.  Canada must be become stronger, focused and united.  The passive and polite Canadian will take a back seat. 

An Obama America is at the coaching position.  The complacent Canada of yesterday, which would usually celebrate a victory from the sidelines, will be encouraged to fight for an active position as an independent unit of a larger schema that will pull us out of this global rut.  This is the catalytic affect that an Obama America could generate for Canada.  I accept that!  Dependence is no longer the solution for Canadians.  Besides dependence is nice but the glory is in independence! I feel like I need a sword to rise.  Don’t you?

 

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