It was an exciting time for the thousands of Canadians who watched tonight's U.S. presidential town hall debate. Former Governor Romney made sure his friends to the north were looped into the policies and politics taking place in the United States. He complimented Canada's tax rate and criticized Obama's tax plans as ineffective.
Romney brought up his plans to move towards "North American energy independence." How? Get that Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to supply oil to the United States. And somehow, he seems set on that strategy lowering U.S. gas prices and controlling costs at the pump.
Whatever it may be, two Canadian students reacted to tonight's debate.
Julian Markowitz, a 2011 undergraduate from the University of British Columbia, reflected:
"Tonight's debate is an interesting artifact of this era — the first in at least 60 years in which the candidates from both parties envy the Canadian position. Of course, "if he wins, I'm moving to Canada" has long been the retort de jure of the American left, but tonight it was Mitt Romney looking for inspiration from America's enlightened northern neighbor. Granted, Canada was most often invoked as an essential component of the Republican energy policy, as an oil exporter and key to an enegery independent continent. (Even this is significant, albeit subtly: Canada has already given the green light to a proposed pipeline as the United States continues to hem and haw). Toward the end of the debate, Romney seemed to covet Canadian policy even more than Canadian oil. He directly contrasted America's and Canada's corporate tax rates, the former is 20% higher!"
Parker Mackay, a class of 2013 student at York University, highlighted key differences between last week and this week's debates as "simply stunning. While Barack Obama wandered off point and seemed uninterested in debating two weeks ago, he seemed on point and hungry to make up for lost time this week. He was aggressive, hit back when former Governor Romney stated erroneous or incorrect facts, and was confident throughout the entire debate. With the sound off, President Obama looked relaxed whereas former Governor Romney seemed angry, frustrated, and very often impatient. This debate will help to energize the fatigued Democratic supporters and will be a boost to the Obama campaign."
Markowitz sums up the Canadian view: "This sort of admiration from the right is something Canadians are unfamiliar with, and it will surely make some uncomfortable. But even more will be curious — what happened to America's softer little brother? Is it Canada that has changed, or America, or both?"
Will "socialist" Canada continue to serve as a model for Romney and the United States' policies over the next three weeks? Is the country to the north more than just that irrelevant land mass? Time will tell....