Skip to main content

In this federal election, one way for uncommitted voters to make up their minds might be to ask themselves: Who will do the best job of getting us through 2020? Because it’s shaping up to be one helluva year.

A cascade of international conflicts threatens this country’s prosperity and security. Choosing the leader and party you think will best manage those threats would be a smart way to vote.

The Liberals under Justin Trudeau mismanaged the SNC-Lavalin prosecution so badly last fall, in part because the government was consumed with the new NAFTA negotiations, which were successfully concluded at almost literally the last minute.

But despite all that effort, the accord still hasn’t been ratified by Parliament or U.S. Congress. The next government will have to convince House Democrats, who don’t want to hand U.S. President Donald Trump a victory in an election year, that the new agreement is good for American workers and that Congress should ratify it. Otherwise, this rogue President could move, as he has repeatedly threatened, to terminate the existing NAFTA, plunging the continent into crisis.

Do you think Mr. Trudeau or Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer would do a better job of protecting Canada-U.S. trade?

President Trump continues to ratchet up pressure on China. A fresh round of tariffs came into effect on Sept. 1, with a further round slated for Dec. 15. There is surprisingly strong support on both sides of the aisle to “get tough” on China, as Joe Biden, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, put it.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that China – whether through theft of intellectual property, currency manipulation or abuse of existing trading rules – has been cheating the United States. The only debate is over how best to retaliate.

But China has weapons of its own, and is not afraid to use them. Here in Canada, the many-sided dispute over the tech giant Huawei has led to Chinese bans on Canadian agriculture exports and the arrests of Canadians in China.

The Liberals continue to look for ways to engage constructively with the regime in Beijing. On Wednesday they appointed the former McKinsey managing director Dominic Barton as ambassador. The Conservatives would take a more confrontational approach. Which do you think would work best in 2020?

The U.S.-China trade dispute could drive the global economy into recession. If so, the federal government will have to spend heavily on support programs and economic stimulus to counteract the downturn. The deficits that the Liberals have been running over the past four years could go through the roof. Which party do you think would best protect jobs, the economy and federal finances in a recession?

The situation in Britain changes by the hour. But if Britain does leave the European Union on Oct. 31, its government will seek an immediate trade agreement with Canada. Should we go along?

Relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia are frozen, and Liberal hopes of a thaw with Russia have gone nowhere. The Conservatives say this is proof of Grit mismanagement. Do you think the Tories would do any better?

Meanwhile, North Korea under leader Kim Jong-un continues to work on its nuclear ballistic missile program. President Trump has tried bluster and blandishments to get Mr. Kim to give up his missiles, with no luck. All we can do is hope that North Korea stays quiet during the U.S. election season.

A great unknown hangs over all of this. The Trump administration doesn’t like the European Union, has little confidence in NATO, has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris accord on climate change, and has hobbled the World Trade Organization by refusing to nominate judges.

If Mr. Trump is defeated in November, 2020, his successor will try to put back together the alliance that the United States created and has led for more than seven decades.

If the Mr. Trump is re-elected, Canada’s prime minister will face two difficult questions. How can this country, along with the other members of the Western alliance, preserve that alliance through a second term of Donald Trump?

And will there be anything left worth saving?

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe