Canadian and US officials optimistic about democracy, despite ‘disturbing cocktail’ of threats

Despite a series of challenges in Canada and the United States, politicians on both sides of the border say they are confident that the two countries can overcome a difficult political climate and secure their respective democracies.

In CBC radio interviews The House broadcast on Saturday, US Ambassador David Cohen, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Senator Peter Boehm and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy all gave their views on the state of Canada-Canada relations. Americans and the strength of democracy in their country.

Murphy, a Democrat who has served as governor of New Jersey since 2018, told host Chris Hall that the United States faces a « cocktail of concerns » when it comes to its own democracy.

He pointed to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which Congress is currently holding hearings on, but he also explained how he believed the U.S. Supreme Court was out of step with public opinion on issues controversial issues like abortion and gun ownership. .

17:12Democratic Doldrums?

US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen speaks in the Chamber on Canada-US Relations, then New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Canadian Senator Peter Boehm sit down to discuss the state of democracy in Canada and the United States. United.

“If you look at where America is on concealed carrying, where America is on Roe v. Wade … the will of the people is dramatically at odds with this radical right-wing bloc on the Supreme Court,” did he declare.

Even with those challenges, Murphy said, he expressed optimism.

« I believe we’ll get through this, » he said.

Boehm, who served as ambassador to Germany, deputy minister for international development and for the 2018 G7 summit, as well as a host of other public service roles, also said he was optimistic, but the Canada also faced significant social and political challenges. problems.

« We’re in a bit of a vicious circle of popular frustration, » he told Hall. « I think people’s frustration with the impact of the pandemic is a big factor. We have economic stagnation, to some extent. And of course, in all of this, politics has become very polarized. »

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the US Supreme Court was out of step with public opinion on controversial issues such as abortion and gun ownership. (Eduard Munoz/Reuters)

Sunny days and snowstorms

Ambassador David Cohen also identified challenges in Canada-US relations and for the countries’ two democracies.

He said he believed in the fundamental friendship between the two countries formed by family ties, travel and trade, and shared values, but, he said, over the past four or five years, Canadians felt « betrayed » by a lack of reciprocal affection from the United States.

Freeland, meanwhile, said Canada was the country that should be most concerned about developments in the United States, but also that Canadians should be confident that « we can deal with sunny days and we can deal with to snowstorms ».

But when it comes to ensuring a stable and lasting relationship with this country’s most important partner, Freeland also underscored the responsibility of Canadians. She notes that Canada must be seen as a reliable and responsible ally, which she says was not the image promoted during the winter convoy protests that hampered border traffic and trade.

« I could see our reputation as a trusted business partner and investment destination being eroded every minute. And we just can’t do that. We’re not a country big enough and rich enough to have injuries. self-inflicted, to amputate parts of ourselves, » she told Hall.

Protesters block the roadway at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont., in February. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said convoy protests in Ottawa and at border points with the United States are challenging Canada’s image as a reliable and responsible ally. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

Take nothing for granted

In their own way, each of the Canadian and U.S. officials has indicated that renewed and reinvigorated engagement — both with domestic citizens and cross-border partners — is the way to revitalize both the relationship and the two countries’ respective democracies.

Cohen said past challenges have shown « that perhaps we shouldn’t take this incredible relationship and mutual commitment to democratic values ​​so casually and lightly; that it doesn’t come automatically. »

Boehm said it was up to politicians to act in a direct and clear way and to fight cynicism and misinformation in the public sphere.

11:42Freeland in the land of the free

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland sits down with Chris Hall to discuss what this country can do to keep its most important bilateral relationship – with the United States – on track.

Freeland said moments like the Roe v. Wade show that rights in a democracy cannot be taken for granted and that there was a danger of complacency.

« There can always be a backlash, all rights can be eroded. All institutions can be attacked and can collapse. There is no inevitability in democracy. There is no inevitability in women’s rights, » she said.

When it comes to Canada-US relations, Murphy said a close relationship can always be closer. And when it comes to American democracy, he said, there was no more important time than now to show up and vote — to support democracy through action.

« Vote and vote for democracy, » he said. « I’m a proud Democrat, but I talk less about partisan politics than I stand up for the essence of America, the constitution that underpins our country that I believe needs to be rallied around. »

Discussing once again the backlash from recent SCOTUS decisions and revelations about the January 6 attack, Murphy said he hoped it would spur positive democratic participation.

« I think there is a sense of rage right now that will bring people to the polls and prove, please God, that democracy is alive and well. »


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