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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Niagara business community favours Clinton

A Hillary Clinton presidency is being viewed as a more stable outcome by the Niagara business community than a Donald Trump victory Tuesday night.

“I think overall Clinton values partnership, collaboration, and has for many years spoken very highly of the Canadian/U.S. relationship,” said Mishka Balsom, president of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.

“Trump on the other hand has bashed Canada, including our health care.”

She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds vastly different views than Trump, which would require more time for a positive relationship to be built between the two.

“Between Clinton and Trudeau, and Clinton and Canada, it’s maybe viewed as being more stable, probably a bit more status quo, too, which some people might take a certain way,” said Balsom.

“But probably it would have less impact on the markets immediately, on the currency, and on other things because I think the world is watching this one, and the markets will respond in accordance to it.

“I think they’re not expecting as big of a change on Wednesday morning if it’s Clinton, versus if it’s Trump.”

The GNCC represents about 1,600 businesses in the region, and is the third largest chamber in Ontario.

Balsom said the GNCC has assessed how the outcome of Tuesday night’s U.S. election could impact Canada’s relationship with America on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“NAFTA was signed originally in 1993 by (former U.S. president) Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton is saying that it should be adjusted and should be opened up to be reviewed,” said Balsom.

“On our end, that sounds better than ending it. Trump promises to withdraw from it, and in his own words he’s saying the U.S. ‘loses with Canada big league.’ That, I think, would negatively impact commerce and trade greater than opening up and reviewing it.”

She said her colleagues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Trump’s promise to withdraw from NAFTA would lead to a recession.

Balsom said Trump also said he “dislikes” TPP.

Clinton has reversed her position on TPP, at first saying she was in favour of it, but then saying she was reserving judgement.

“Reserving judgement is a bit more favourable to us than saying I’m going to pull out,” said Balsom.

She said the chamber is also concerned about Trump’s border policies, which she said could make travel and the movement of goods between Canada and the U.S. more difficult.

“I think that’s something that trade, in general, is not looking for.”

Blayne Haggart, a political science professor at Brock University, said Clinton would make “principled arguments” about where the United States should be vis-a-vis Canada.

“(With Clinton), you’ll see something along the lines of a reassertion of a national interest in trade, and questioning what are the ways to balance trade with domestic needs of workers,” he said.

“That said, the two countries, Canada and the United States, are very economically integrated. We both depend on each other, so … my take is you’re not going to see anything quite like a trade war between Canada and the United States if Hillary Clinton wins.”

He said Trump’s position of scrapping NAFTA and breaking other trade agreements would put up “protectionist barriers” that would “cause recessions in the United States, but also hurt Canada.

“The key to good Canada-U.S. relations is essentially respect and understanding where the other person is coming from,” said Haggart.

“With Donald Trump, we talk about his positions, but … they’re very expedient, they change at the drop of a hat.

“He, unlike pretty much every other candidate who has ever run for president in the history of the United States of America, really doesn’t know anything about how anything works in politics or in economics, so he works on slogans that people respond to.

“If he were to become president, those slogans would have to become policy in some way. What that policy would look like is anybody’s guess, and there’s a good chance that it would be economically disastrous.”

When it comes to cross-border issues, Haggart said he believes Clinton would find the right balance between security and trade.

“With Trump, he sees the world and everything in kind of an us versus them, and as an issue of dominance. That is very unusual in the Canada-U.S. relationship. It would be incredibly complex and dangerous for Canada, but also for Americans who depend on Canada.”

He said a Trump presidency would lead people around the world to “question the U.S. commitment to the world” when it comes to America’s participation in trade deals, the United Nations and human-rights issues.

“You would have to rethink pretty much every single aspect of our foreign policy and our economic policy.”

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