During this discussion with John Parisella, our President, Emilio B. Imbriglio, addressed the stakes of the U.S. election for Canada.
In the wake of the U.S. elections, on November 4th, as part of the Firm’s One-on-One discussions, Emilio B. Imbriglio, President and CEO of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, spoke with John Parisella, Senior Advisor, Strategy and Business Outreach at NATIONAL Public Relations and a leading expert on American politics.
Although the outcome of the elections was still uncertain, particularly for the presidency and the Senate, the observations of the former chief of staff for Robert Bourassa and Daniel Johnson and Quebec’s delegate general in New York City highlighted U.S. policy trends that are likely to emerge. Here is a brief overview of the discussion between the two leaders.
Realistic and optimistic approach
From the outset, John Parisella made a point of stating that his analysis is intended to be both realistic and optimistic. The United States is not the same country of the 1960s, where there were many more divisions, particularly in the areas of civil rights and nuclear confrontation.
John Parisella said: “You might have thought it was the beginning of the end for the country, but the U.S. kept going,” adding that in the ensuing years, the U.S. showed strong leadership on a global scale.
Despite the fact that the results were still pending and would be close, especially in the upper house (Senate) where the Republicans could retain a majority, albeit smaller, Parisella stressed that it will be a transitional presidency, regardless of who is elected.
In his opinion, because of the respective ages of the presidential candidates and the 2022 mid-term elections when the House of Representatives and one third of the Senate will be renewed, a completely different dynamic could be taking place in both parties. “The U.S. will already be in a new election cycle as of 2022,” he said.
Given the issue of mistrust about possible electoral fraud, John Parisella indicated that while there are no historical references, possible interference is not ruled out—for example, via the Internet from foreign governments such as Iran, China or Russia. Nevertheless, John Parisella is confident that the electoral system is well organized. “There are 50 separate elections and each state has its own voting system. […] There may be irregularities, but that’s not proven.”
Mr. Imbriglio asked Mr. Parisella how he envisioned the system of checks and balances. According to John Parisella, the issue of checks and balances applies to institutions, but it also belongs to civil society, which is very active on this front.
“Remember when the President withdrew from the Paris Accord, several states had ongoing climate change initiatives that did not require such an agreement to be carried out. Even some Republican governors are much more open to environmental dialogue than Mr. Trump is,” the expert stated, adding that the media should not be neglected in all of this either, because they make a significant contribution.
Economic and trade impacts for Quebec and Canada
With respect specifically to Canada-U.S. relations, the Firm’s President asked John Parisella about his views after four years of the Trump presidency. Considering that Quebec and Canada are competing with several other states for market share in the United States, Mr. Imbriglio highlighted the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and raised the U.S. President’s tax reform, which cancelled out Canada’s corporate tax advantage.
In a word, according to John Parisella, they’re complicated. He added that changes will take place in the economy, especially with the new USMCA. “Yes, we had to make concessions, but it should be noted that the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was concluded before the advent of the Internet. […] We retained what we achieved, saved a lot of what we had and signed the new agreement, with a cross-Canada consensus.”
According to John Parisella, post-COVID economies will face a recovery with different policies than before the pandemic and this will have to be dealt with. “That’s why I use the terms trade diplomacy and economic diplomacy a lot.” Parisella also noted that 70% of Quebec’s exports go to the U.S., something that won’t change.
“You have to be in a constant state of diplomacy, and that’s not just between the White House and the federal government, but between provinces, cities, chambers of commerce, unions, business sectors,” he said. He went on to point out that Quebec is the only province that has as many representatives globally, in 18 countries with 33 representations, including nine in the United States, and that would not change, regardless of who’s in the Oval Office.
In short, even though the results of American elections were not known at the time of the two leaders’ virtual meeting, Parisella expressed optimism about the future of Canada-U.S. relations. “The United States is a highly imperfect democracy […] but a country with which we share prosperity, democratic values and security objectives.”
This dynamic and informative exchange between Emilio B. Imbriglio and John Parisella clearly demonstrated that the strong relationship between the two countries will continue. Thank you, Mr. Parisella, for your insightful, candid and optimistic observations!