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U.S. Politics A very long year: Canadian expats reflect on the ugly U.S. presidential race and what comes next

U.S. Election 2016

A very long year: Canadian expats reflect on an ugly election and what comes next

Supporter of Donald Trump, Beth Lyerla of Gilbert, Ariz., wears a Hillary Clinton mask and a prison outfit as she waits for the start of a campaign rally in Tempe, Ariz., on Oct. 27.

A Donald Trump supporter wears a Hillary Clinton mask and a prison outfit as she waits for the start of a campaign rally in Tempe, Ariz., on Oct. 27.

ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP

Sunday dinner quarrels and friendships questioned over Facebook posts. Affan Chowdhry reached out to Canadians living in the U.S. to share what it's really like living through a toxic presidential race

Four years ago, when President Barack Obama was seeking re-election and facing a stiff challenge from Mitt Romney, we assembled a group of Canadian expats in the United States to help translate the presidential election for our audience in Canada.

THE EXPATS

Canadians in America 2012: The Globe's look at the Obama-Romney race through the eyes of Canadian expats.

Those expats spanned geography – living in red, blue and battleground states – and they occupied the spectrum of politics, careers and diversity.

As the 2016 presidential race enters the home stretch, we reached out to those expats again to find out how they are doing and how they are coping with their year of living with Donald Trump.

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Here they are – in their own words – talking about their hopes for America after voting day, and how they are likely to vote.


Battleground states: The view from North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania

Hillary Clinton greets early voters at the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 27.

Hillary Clinton greets early voters at the Leonard J. Kaplan Center for Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., on Oct. 27.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Handout
Expat
Rob Forrester
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
61
Wilmington, N.C.
Whitby, Ont.
Financial analyst

My year of Clinton vs. Trump:"Very few people will say openly or publicly that they support him. But speaking one on one, many say they are voting for him.… I think his support is deeper and stronger than perhaps the polls show. It's not cool to be a Trump supporter and few want to face the public shaming of supporting him."

My hope for after voting day:"I hope the country can overcome its divisions and come together behind some common purposes, such as increasing the number of jobs, closing the borders to illegal immigration, dealing with the national debt etc. It's funny, in that in Canada in the 1980s, the federal government was financed by debt. In the early 1990s, the piper had to be paid, and budgets began to be balanced. I'm thinking a similar cliff faces the U.S."

My vote:"I cannot vote for Hillary. While Trump has said stupid things, the Clintons have done stupid things. I like the tax plan of the Libertarians. I'll probably decide in the voting booth."

Handout
Expat
Jill Kennedy
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
36
Doylestown, Pa.
Oakville, Ont.
Sales co-ordinator

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "Not only has his hateful rhetoric shocked me as a Canadian but I have been shocked with how many people around me (neighbours, colleagues) plan to vote for him.… It has made me question this country and if this is the place I want to raise my child where so many people would accept him as a leader."

My hope for after voting day: "I moved here in 2008, two weeks after Obama was elected and there was so much hope and joy. With (hopefully) the first female president of the United States, we can get back to there – no more hate spewing from Trump and constant coverage."

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My vote: "I am going to be voting for Clinton 100 per cent! #imwithher"

Handout
Expat
Penny Stamp
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
43
Orlando
Toronto
Graphic designer

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "I don't have cable, so I can mostly tune out the circus. His comments after the Pulse shooting [in Orlando] were inappropriate, to say the least. It's very hard as a woman, a mother, an Orlando resident and a human to not be outraged about this man."

My hope for after voting day: "I hope people who became extremely partisan during the elections will come together and work together for the betterment of our country."

My vote: "I will probably vote Libertarian across my ballot. It's the party that has the greatest chance of becoming a third party, which is what I think this country needs."

Handout
Expat
Meredith Nelson
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
43
Raleigh, N.C.
Ottawa
Self-employed consultant

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "My son came home from Camp Ahmek (Taylor Statten Camps in Algonquin Park) determined to learn more about "this Trump guy" and was stunned that his Canadian friends knew more than he did about what was really going on in American politics."

"Fast-forward a year and the same child went to camp fully schooled in Trumpism. And here lies my challenge: How do you continue to encourage your children to be engaged in the political process while ensuring they understand how disrespectful and inappropriate their candidate is?"

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My hope for after voting day: "First and foremost, I hope Hillary Clinton is elected president. I shudder to think of the alternative."

My vote: Not a citizen.

Handout
Expat
Dennis Sifton
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
74
Williamsburg, Va.
St. Thomas, Ont.
Retired physician

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "We have spent the last four months travelling mostly in Canada and obviously mostly talking with our three Canadian kids and their families. Most of our neighbours at various RV parks [in Canada] were Canadian as well. The first question that Canadians ask is, "What do you think of the U.S. presidential election?"

"After my usual non-committal answer, they launch into a diatribe about what Donald Trump did or said most recently. The discussion usually ends with my saying that we have two very unsuitable candidates. If I have learned anything in my 74 years, it is unwise to get into a discussion about politics or religion with some one you don't know well."

My hope for after voting day: "The hope is that we will have a person who is willing to be representative of all of us."

My vote: "As for voting, let me explain my conundrum. We have two choices.… [Ms. Clinton's] accomplishments have been very questionable, especially as Secretary of State where most of the issues that were decided turned out to have made the situation worse – in some cases much worse.…"

"[Mr. Trump] is very unfocused and easily gets side-tracked. He has said and done some very tasteless things about people and has not carried himself presidentially a lot of the time.… The unanswerable question is: How would he govern? Would he be able to surround himself with good people and listen to them? The solution to this conundrum escapes me as I write."

Handout
Expat
Ashley O’Kurley
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
46
Miami
Edmonton
Financial planner

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "The emotional reality is that I've found this election cycle to be anxiety-inducing at a level that I've never experienced before.… I find myself taking refuge in the pragmatic maturity of Hillary. I was actually thrilled to take my seven-year-old daughter to a Hillary rally and get close enough to have them see each other and shake hands. It was a proud daddy-daughter moment."

My hope for after voting day: "Culturally, and professionally, diversity [and] diversification is a 'North Star' for me – to hear a weariness of that from [a colleague at work] helped me to get my head around Trump's support somewhat. Tectonic changes really shake up people's lives – some not for the better. They deserve a voice too. I just wish that it was a voice from a more responsible leader as opposed to the craven lack of core decency exhibited by Donald Trump."

My vote: Not a citizen


Red states: The view from solidly Republican states

Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, in February.

Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia, in February.

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Image

Handout
expat
Ben Wright
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
39
Atlanta
Charlottetown
Digital communications

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "Very few people I talk to about politics had Donald Trump as their first choice in the Republican primary. Since he became the nominee people are walking on eggshells when the election comes up. People don't want to be tagged as Trump supporters or associated with the stereotypes that come with being one."

My hope for after voting day: "[My daughter] went with me to vote in the Georgia primary and as the primaries wound down my daughter kept asking who was left, until eventually there was just Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I remember her excitement on finding out that one of the candidates was a woman. "It's a lady?" she exclaimed. "A lady can be the president? Daddy, you have to vote for her. There's never been a lady president before and a lady should have a turn. She'll make good choices." On Nov. 9 I hope my daughter wakes up excited to learn that a woman broke down another wall."

My vote: "Despite her shortcomings, [Ms. Clinton] has committed her entire adult life to public service and in my opinion she is the most qualified person to ever run for president of the United States. She also has a proven record of working across the aisle, and that is the single most important attribute a politician can have in my eyes."

Handout
expat
Anne Britton
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
48
Rapid City, S.D.
Montreal
Optometrist

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "Having Mr. Trump in the race has made it really awkward to discuss politics at family get-togethers and at work. I've never seen a campaign so polarized before.… It's making people pick the least of two evils. I am scared to know who my husband will vote for. I know he doesn't like Hillary, but I hope he hates Trump enough to not vote for him.… I try to not discuss politics as I am so much more liberal than the state I live in."

My hope for after voting day: "I'm hoping this crazy campaign and elections will be an inspiration for great candidates and young people to get involved in politics."

My vote: Hillary Clinton

Handout
expat
Danielle LeMaster
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
37
Birmingham, Ala.
Blackville, N.B.
Stay-at-home mom

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "The majority of my friends and family who register Republican are holding their noses on the way to vote this year. There have been tense Sunday dinners that ended in outright arguing. It makes you look at people you have known for years and question your relationship; what does it say that this person you know to be compassionate is trying to justify the things that are being said?"

My hope for after voting day: "Honestly, when it is all said and done, I just want America to take a long, hard look at itself and return to some common sense. There really are no moderates any more, everything is extreme and everyone acts like they are on a reality-TV show."

My vote: Not a citizen


Blue states: The view from solidly Democratic states

Donald Trump speaks at an airport hangar campaign rally in front of his personal helicopter in Hagerstown, Maryland, ahead of the Apr. 26 primary.

Donald Trump speaks at an airport hangar campaign rally in front of his personal helicopter in Hagerstown, Maryland, ahead of the Apr. 26 primary.

JIM BOURG/REUTERS

Handout
expat
Michelle Curry
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
38
Baltimore, Md.
Winnipeg
Full-time student

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "The only words that I can use to describe this last year are anger and fear.… The fear is not just about a Trump presidency: Fear about the future, fear of another 10 years of conflict and our young men and women coming home in body bags, and the ones that don't [are] so broken that they kill themselves at a rate of 22 a day. Fear that the American dream doesn't exist any more."

My hope for after voting day: "I hope that people start to get involved at a local level and start to care about the process as a whole, instead of just the presidency. I believe that more third-party candidates need to get elected and continue to get a foothold in the system and get a fair chance on a national level. The two-party system is not working."

My vote: Not a citizen

Handout
expat
Chloe Wolman
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
33
Los Angeles
Toronto
Lawyer

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "I had a boss once who required his young female employees to hug him. I remember feeling both so repulsed and so unable to refuse. It was my job, what could I do? … And so, like many of my female friends, I just let it go. It never evolved into anything more nefarious. But the Access Hollywood [video] really pulled back the curtain on what underscores that kind of behaviour: a combination of arrogance, entitlement and a belief that women are not people worthy of respect and bodily autonomy."

My hope for after voting day: "I'm hoping that we avoid the civil unrest Trump supporters are threatening. I'm hoping Hillary is not obstructed from getting anything at all accomplished because of an obstinate Republican Party."

My vote: "I've got the fridge magnets, the Woman Card, the H is for Hillary hat. I'm excited that for my second-ever vote in the U.S. I will once again be able to vote for a president who doesn't look like our previous 43 presidents."

Handout
expat
Sri Artham
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
40
San Francisco
Toronto
Fair trade consultant

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "I've become close friends over the years with Dave, a buyer at a large grocery chain – we've had many dinners together, I've met his wife a few times, and yes, we're Facebook friends. It also turns out he's a huge Trump fan and most of his posts are either promoting Trump or bashing Hillary. It's caused me to doubt our friendship and even the way I view him professionally. Rest assured, after reflection I still consider Dave a close friend; I simply hope that the other millions of relationships that are being tested this year will remain just as strong."

My hope for after voting day: "After Nov. 8 we need to step back and remember what unites us. Take some time to reflect that if over 40 per cent of the population disagrees with your point of view, then there must be something to it. It's time for an era of empathy – listening, love and respect."

My vote: Not a citizen

Handout
expat
Kyla Sweet
Age
U.S. residence
Original hometown
Occupation
43
Seattle
Vancouver
School librarian

My year of Clinton vs. Trump: "My family relationships have permanently weakened. I expected to disagree with my in-laws, particularly my mother-in-law (a long-time conservative and Fox News devotee) but can't accept that a devoted Catholic would endorse this man. I feel angry that she doesn't think of her granddaughter and can't see how all of her children have done so much better in the Obama years. They visited us in the summer and it was deeply uncomfortable, mostly avoiding controversial topics. The tension was palpable."

My hope for after voting day: "I hope I can get out of bed. I hope Hillary is president and I can face my kid and my students and the next four years with a modicum of hope and excitement. I hope my daughter, a girl born in America, sees the inauguration of the first woman president."

My vote: Not a citizen

These interviews have been edited and condensed.
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