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

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

In interviews on CBC Radios The House US Ambassador David Cohen, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of the Treasury Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Senator Peter Boehm and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy all broadcast on Saturday and gave their views on the state of Canada’s relationship with the United States. US and the strength of democracy in their country.

Murphy, a Democrat who has been governor of New Jersey since 2018, told host Chris Hall that the United States has a “cocktail of worry” when it comes to its own democracy.

He pointed to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, which Congress is currently holding hearings on, but also shared how he felt the US Supreme Court was out of step with public opinion on divisive issues such as abortion and gun ownership.

5:12 PMDemocratic misery?

US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen talks to The House about 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.

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

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

“I believe we will get through this,” he said.

Boehm, who has served as ambassador to Germany, vice minister of international development and before the G7 summit in 2018, along with a host of other civil service positions, also said he was an optimist, but Canada also faced major challenges in the field. social and political field. issues.

“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 politics is very polarized in all of this.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says the United States Supreme Court is out of step with public opinion on divisive issues such as abortion and gun ownership. (Eduard Munoz/Reuters)

Sunny days and snow storms

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

He said he believes in the fundamental friendship between the two countries, shaped by family ties, travel and trade, as well as shared values, but he said Canadians have felt “betrayed” over the past four or five years due to a lack of mutual affection from the United States.

Freeland, meanwhile, said Canada is the country most concerned about developments in the United States, but also that Canadians should be confident that “we can handle sunny days and snowstorms.”

But when it comes to ensuring a stable, lasting relationship with this country’s most important partner, Freeland also stressed the responsibility Canadians bear. She noted that Canada should be seen as a reliable and responsible ally, which she said was not the image presented during winter convoy protests that hampered traffic and trade at the border.

“I saw our reputation as a trusted trading partner and investment destination eroding a little bit by the minute. And we just can’t do that. We’re not big enough, rich enough to injure ourselves, to amputate parts of ourselves,” she told hello.

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

Taking nothing for granted

In their different ways, Canadian and US officials pointed to a renewed, renewed engagement — both with the domestic citizen and with cross-border partners — as the way to rekindle 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 candid, clear manner and push back against cynicism and misinformation in the public sphere.

11:42Freeland on the land of the free

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

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

“There can always be a backlash, all rights can be eroded. All institutions can be attacked and crumble. Democracy is not inevitable. Women’s rights are not inevitable,” she said.

When it comes to the relationship between Canada and the US, 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 on the side of democracy,” he said. “I am a proud Democrat, but I speak less against partisan politics than I stand up for the essence of America, the constitution that underlies our country and which for me must be supported.”

Murphy again discussed the fallout from recent SCOTUS statements and revelations surrounding the January 6 attack and said he hoped it would encourage positive democratic participation.

“I think there is a sense of anger right now that will take people to the polls and prove, thank goodness, that democracy is alive and kicking.”

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