November 8, 2020
It's tempting to think the outcome of a U.S. presidential doesn't have much effect on the small city in Canada where I live.
But that's not true. I can think of five ways Kamloops will be affected — two good, two bad, and one hard to define.
Climate change and wildfires
President-elect Joe Biden has promised to get the United States back in the Paris Agreement, and is in favour of several initiatives to address the climate crisis.
Kamloops has seen disastrous wildfire summers in recent years. These are costly to fight. The smoke creates health hazards. People have lost their homes and their lives. It may be early to say conclusively that climate change is to blame, but scientists says it is a likely culprit.
Tourism and COVID-19
Biden has promised to make dealing with the COVID-19 his top priority. He will listen to the advice of scientists and public health experts.
The tourism industry in Kamloops has been hurt by the lack of visitors from the United States. The sooner we can safely re-open the border, the better it will be for tourism.
Softwood lumber agreement
Canada and the U.S. have a softwood lumber agreement that regulates how much Canadian lumber can be sold in U.S. markets. This agreement is regularly challenged by the U.S., sometimes to the detriment of Canadian producers.
Washington and Oregon, which are major lumber producers for the U.S., are solidly Democratic and will likely have a more sympathetic ear with a Democratic president in the White House.
The forest industry remains important in the Kamloops region, with many jobs depending on lumber mills. They could find themselves under more pressure with more challenges to the agreement.
Oil and gas workers
Biden is opposed the Keystone pipeline, which Canada considers crucial to the viability of the oil and gas industry. In fact, the federal government has signalled that this will be its top priority in relations with the Biden government.
Many Kamloops residents depend for their livelihood on oil and gas jobs in northern Alberta, where they commute. The industry is going through a downturn that could be made worse if the pipeline is stalled. More jobs will be lost.
The president of the United States, whoever that might be, has an outsized influence on the world. It's like we're passengers on a bus, and we depend on the driver to be cautious and obey the rules of the road.
It's one thing for the driver to take us somewhere we didn't want to go — that's expected in politics. But it's another for the driver to be rude and rash. It turns us into nervous wrecks.
There's a chance the current driver could crash the bus before he leaves, but at least we have the relief of knowing the next driver will stop at red lights. We will at long last be able to let go of the death grips we have on the arm rests.