11/06/2012 04:36 EST | Updated 11/06/2012 08:32 EST

Election 2012 Obama, Romney: Who's Better For Alberta?


The outcome of today's elections in the U.S. will have an impact on the province's economy, which is why many Albertans are watching the political contest closely.

Although polls suggest most Canadians would vote for the incumbent, President Barack Obama, if Alberta would benefit more from a continued Obama tenure or a new Mitt Romney administration is still a source of debate.

Trade between the two nations, the U.S.' energy strategy going forward and environmental focus are all directives that will have a profound impact on how Alberta's economic engine - the energy sector - will perform in the future. Some pundits argue the two men would tackle those same issues differently.

In terms of Canada/U.S. relations, no single issue is more divisive south of the border and most likely to have a lasting effect on the Alberta energy industry than the Keystone XL pipeline.

Obama rejected TransCanada's original application for a federal permit to build the pipeline in January after congressional Republicans imposed a deadline for approval that didn't allow enough time to address questions about the route through Nebraska.

Since then, TransCanada has split the project into two pieces. The company began construction earlier this year on the southern section of the pipeline between Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, Republican presidential Candidate Romney has made the pipeline one of his day one promises, and he phrased it like this: "Approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (and perhaps build it with his own bare hands)."

Although in the surface both camps seem far apart, with Obama playing the part of the naysayer and Romney coming out as the pipeline's biggest booster, the pipeline will likely go ahead regardless of who's elected, said Frank McKenna, Canada’s former ambassador to the United States, in a recent interview with the Calgary Herald.

What the Keystone pipeline offers Alberta is an open door to a stable market with an insatiable appetite for energy. The pipeline is also a way for Alberta oil producers to sell their product at a premium - selling oil in the gulf coast allows producers to get a better price per barrel than they get currently.

It will also give Alberta a stable outlet for the product, as oil production in the oilsands ramps up. You can produce all the oil you want but there has to be a way to get it to market.

Without Keystone, Alberta would have to put all its eggs in the Northern Gateway basket, which at this point seems like a more daunting task than putting the Alberta energy industry's fate on the hands of U.S. democrats or republicans.

But Keystone is also of benefit to the U.S., claim supporters, as it struggles with its dependency on oil from foes or unstable producers around the world.

“It’s a little overstated when people say they’re sure it’s going to get passed. I’m not that sold on it. But I would say it’s certainly more than a coin flip at this point. I would say no matter who the president is, it will probably get built,” Andrew Finn, program director for the Canada Institute at the Washington D.C.-based Woodrow Wilson Centre, also told the Herald.

There is however also the question of who would be the better manager of the U.S. economy, as the country continues to find its legs following the 2008/09 recession.

Although the old adage that said, "When the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold," is not as true as it once was - arguably due to a more diversified Canadian trading strategy and economic oversight - a crumbling U.S. economy will mean pain for Alberta's economy.

According to University of Alberta science professor Greg Anderson's interview with, Romney has the better plan to pull the American economy out of its slump.

“In general, I’d probably give the nod to Romney,” Anderson tells Alberta Venture.

“He’s got a much more detailed plan than Obama has for the next four years. Whether he’s going to be any more successful is a completely open question, but he has a much more detailed plan that’s well thought out, and as Romney himself points out he has a track record for appreciating or understanding how the economy works.

“He’s very much a pragmatic technocrat when it comes to the management of businesses. Can he bring that to the management of the economy? It’s a different order of things. Many presidents have made those sorts of promises and failed.”

But in the end, Romney may actually be a bigger, long-term detriment to Alberta's energy sector, said Anderson, explaining that opening up all faucets and allowing drilling to occur unhampered, as the Republican candidate has promised, may actually have an impact on the long-term demand for Alberta resources south of the border.

Debate online made it clear that for many north of the border, their choice for president still resides largely along political lines and beliefs.

When asked who she would vote for if she had to cast a ballot, Michele O'Callaghan said. "Obama..... Romney brings way too much religion to politics."

Doreen Forster Suter would also put her 'X' next to Obama.

"Romney flip flops all over the place and loves to take away women's rights," she said.

Amy Angela would also pick Obama but expressed her views in a more pointed manner.

"Whacky, religious zealots that truly believe fictional religious apocalyptic war prophecies do not belong in power. The very thought is terrifying. Oh, and also because I'm female. No interest in taking women's rights back a hundred years."


But it wasn't an Obama love-a-thon either. Many criticized Obama's record on the economy, while others gave kudos to Romney's social stance.

Ludovic Auger weighed in saying, "I hope it will be Romney because Obama is a threat to the U.S. economy (we just have to see how he deals with the crisis). I think Romney will the majority in percentage of vote however, I'm afraid Obama will win the majority of electoral college. I think we'll see the same problem as the 2000 election where Bush was elected by the electoral college but not the majority of the population."

Paul Pedersen said he'd cast a ballot for Romney, "For his stand on abortion!"

Dennis Faulkner took a more pragmatic, if not Albertan, approach when quantifying his support for Romney.

"I think Romney is a better pick to keep interest rates low for a long time," he said.

But then again, those who have become disenfranchised also weighed in on the contest.

"Doesn't matter currently the puppet masters behind the scenes will always be the same until something big happens," said Kym MacKinnon.

Then there is Jocelyn Orieux, who simply, and elegantly said, "Big Bird!"

But while many Albertans feel they have gains and losses in what happens following the U.S. election, for many U.S. citizens calling Alberta home, it's still, to a great degree, about the fundamentals.

Jim Davis, chair of the local Democrats Abroad chapter, in an interview with Metro, cited issues like abortion and gay rights as being key among many voters, when quantifying his support for Obama.

“I think (Obama) is a practical person and I think he’s open-minded,” he said.

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