Many Canadians are predisposed to dislike Mitt Romney. He is a Republican, and robotic even by those standards. In this land of centre-left sensibilities, such party affiliation and corporate mien often rankle. But I would urge my Canadian compatriots to reconsider. Romney is running for a foreign office, not joining your curling team, and if he can unseat President Barack Obama, the Great White North will be greater for it.
Whatever one's views on North American free trade, or capitalism in general, it remains immutable that Canada and the United States share the largest bilateral exchange of goods and services in history. Even those Canadians who instinctively gravitate toward Democratic candidates should wish for Canada to gain the greatest possible benefit from that arrangement.
Canada is, essentially, an exporter nation, largely because we have lots of natural stuff -- rocks and trees and skies and seas -- and we send it to places that do not. This is a function of how and where the Good Lord placed us, and it is not necessarily so that a country is entering terminal stages of Dutch Disease simply because resources represent a major portion of its economy. Indeed, with strong capital markets, technology, and other industries, Canada has achieved a pleasant equilibrium, all things considered.
But, perched as we are beside the largest consumer market in the world, we have a particular sensitivity, and advantage, when it comes to international trade. The U.S. consumer represents 70 per cent of that country's economy, and 20 per cent of the global economy. Canada benefits most when America is open to its products, and has the money to pay for them. Emotionally satisfying as it may be for Canadians to see the Loonie at parity or soaring above the American dollar, a stronger U.S. currency maximizes Canada's strengths.
Obama inherited a massive budget deficit, which he proceeded to triple. At no point in his projected budget plan does he propose to balance the budget. Those ongoing deficits will be financed in large measure by an increased money supply. This augurs continued weakness in the U.S. dollar, making it harder for Americans to afford Canadian goods.
Though the Romney plan takes its sweet time in doing so, it does balance the budget eventually, and even some measure of government spending restraint will result in a stronger U.S. greenback. As a matter of basic policy, Romney is, like most Republicans, a free-market, global trader. Obama, meanwhile, like most Democrats, is beholden to American union interests, and thereby eager to hose foreign workers whenever possible.
Fundamental to Canada-U.S. trade is, of course, energy. The first of Romney's five principal campaign pledges is that North America will be energy independent by 2020. That means opening the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to Texas, which Obama has blocked.
There are those who loudly insist our energy must come from wind, solar, and their own sense of self-satisfaction. But even the shrillest of Birkenstocked, Begley-ite, "No Blood for Oil" protesters must, on some level, be practical. Canada's oil will be tapped and sold. Would they prefer it go to our imperfect ally, the United States, or to a demonstrably malevolent power like the People's Republic of China? As to their reasonable environmental concerns, would they rather Canadian oil be shipped by the safest possible means -- pipeline -- or by far riskier sea tankers? And when that black gold reaches its market, which nation's environmental regulations -- China's or the United States' -- will be most likely to preserve and protect the planet our green-minded friends so long to cuddle?
Canadians are perennially and properly concerned about national sovereignty. If you do not know much about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, fear not -- it knows plenty about you. They're the folks who, thanks to the acquiescence of the Canadian government, can put the kibosh on you flying from Canada to any location in the world if your flight plan covers even one inch of American airspace. The existence and conduct of the DHS is a bipartisan disgrace, and a global problem.
Republican President George W. Bush created the department and hung its Stalinist moniker over the door. Obama made it worse, severely clamping down on domestic security, demanding that other countries do the same if they wished to have access to the United States, and appointing as his DHS Secretary the appallingly ignorant Janet Napolitano, who came into office professing that the 9/11 hijackers came through Canada.
Romney remains largely a blank slate on the issue of security overreach. But, as a free-trader, he at least understands the danger of blocking borders and thickening barriers between businesses. Finally, if nothing else, consider this: If Obama is re-elected and his socialization of American health care becomes complete, where will Canadians go for treatment when waiting lines at home grow too long?
Counterintuitive though it may seem, Canadians should be rooting for Mitt Romney.
Theo Caldwell, an international investor and broadcaster, has been a member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the Kansas City Board of Trade. He can be reached at email@example.com
This blog originally appeared in the Washington Times.