Skip to main content

Jim Young/Reuters

The U.S. presidential election is Hillary Clinton's to lose.

With fewer than 90 days remaining in the campaign, the Democratic candidate appears to have solidified her lead over Republican challenger Donald Trump, according to recent polls.

With that in mind, here's how a Clinton presidency might affect Canada's economy:

Clinton on the TPP

Much like her opponent, Ms. Clinton has taken a tough stance on trade.

"I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership," she said in a July speech, referring to the 12-country trade agreement.

Her views on the TPP have shifted over time.

As secretary of state, Ms. Clinton was a TPP booster, lauding it as the "gold standard of trade agreements" in 2012, at which point it was still being negotiated. The deal was eventually struck after Ms. Clinton had launched her presidential campaign.

"What I know about it, as of today, I am not in favour of what I have learned about it," she told PBS Newshour in October of 2015, shortly after the deal was announced.

If ratified, the TPP would create the world's largest trading bloc and include the likes of the United States, Japan and Canada.

The deal's backers contend that Canadian exporters would gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace, and that consumers would enjoy cheaper imports from TPP countries. But the deal's critics worry about potential job losses as labour moves to cheaper jurisdictions. Unifor, the union representing Canada's auto workers, says the TPP would kill thousands of industry jobs.

Protectionism has emerged as a key theme in the U.S. election campaign. Against this backdrop, the odds of the TPP being ratified look increasingly bleak.


Clinton on NAFTA

Ms. Clinton has also changed her tune on the North American free-trade agreement.

"I think everybody is in favour of free and fair trade. I think NAFTA is proving its worth," Ms. Clinton said in 1996.

Fast-forward to a 2007 debate in the Democratic primaries: "NAFTA was a mistake to the extent that it did not deliver on what we had hoped it would, and that's why I call for a trade timeout when I am president."

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has been a more vocal critic of NAFTA, calling it a "disaster" he would renegotiate or axe altogether.

How a Trump presidency would affect Canada's economy The Republican candidate is pledging to overhaul – or even scrap – trade agreements involving Canada

Ms. Clinton has also signalled a desire to alter the deal.

"I have said for years that I want to see NAFTA renegotiated to give American workers a level playing field," she said in a May statement, following an endorsement from the United Auto Workers.

It's worth mentioning that anti-trade rhetoric is common on the campaign trail. "But, once in office, [presidents] typically govern from a more moderate standpoint," TD economists Beata Caranci and Leslie Preston note in a report.

Will this time be different?

Mexico says it is "ready" to update NAFTA if Canada and the U.S. "suggest doing" so, its foreign minister said in July, according to a Reuters report.

Thus, heading back to the bargaining table may hinge on Canada.


Clinton on Keystone XL

Ms. Clinton does not support Keystone XL, the cross-border pipeline project that President Barack Obama rejected in November of 2015.

On the other hand, if elected Mr. Trump would ask Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. "to renew its permit application" for the dismissed project.

Ms. Clinton's position may find more favour north of the border.

Canadians and Americans are divided on Keystone XL, with a greater share of Canadians opposed to the project, according to a 2015 survey from the Pew Research Center.

Canada during Democratic and Republican presidencies

Who's been better for the Canadian economy: Democratic or Republican presidents?

"Historically, whether causal or not, Democratic presidents have presided over faster growing economies," CIBC economists Royce Mendes and Avery Shenfeld said in a May report.

"More importantly for us north of the border, since 1962 Democratic presidents have also been associated with better Canadian growth statistics."