Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gridlock will force new era in U.S.

Ambassador predicts spirit of co-operation

  • Print

Former premier Gary Doer will never have a problem drawing a crowd in this town. Leader of the province for more than a decade, and now the high-profile Canadian ambassador to Washington, Doer will remain a top political act for as long as he's able to command a lectern.

Of course, it helps fill the room when Doer visits home less than 72 hours after a historic presidential election. And so it was on Friday, before a jammed lecture hall at Red River College, that Doer held court to talk about the election campaign, what it means to Americans and ultimately what it means to Canadians.

U.S. elections are closely followed in this country. We're aware that every blip in U.S. social, political and economic narratives ultimately affects the Great White North.

According to Doer, the campaign was divisive and downright nasty on both the Republican and Democratic sides. And it showed broad national polls are much more inaccurate than more tightly focused polls that look only at individual states, or voting precincts.

There was little newsworthy in those observations. However, what Doer did offer that was headline-worthy was a sense of optimism that legislators in Washington will put aside their partisan tools of war and work together on pressing matters. With a convincing victory by President Barack Obama, Doer said there was hope it would spark a spirit of collective interest.

There is always a sense that in his current job, and with his extensive network of connections in U.S politics, Doer both knows and would like to say more than he did Friday. As a diplomat, Doer really cannot enunciate much more than a general belief that politics in the U.S. will somehow be healed by Obama's re-election. Based on the nastiness in the campaign, that might seem like a long shot.

However, there is nonetheless a working theory in Washington that, having been soundly beaten by the Democrats, Republicans and their Tea Party cousins will cease their "opposition and obstructionism for the sake of opposition and obstructionism" strategy. If for no other reason than it failed to win them the White House.

However, there is also an overarching need for both parties to work together to save a still reeling economy. Doer noted the two parties are approaching the fiscal cliff, a series of previously passed laws that come into effect at the end of this calendar year, which will mean tax increases and massive spending cuts. These deficit-fighting measures were the result of gridlock in the U.S. Congress, a collection of compromises meant to offset Republican and Democratic priorities.

Now, both parties would like to modify or step back from these measures which, the Congressional Budget Office believes, may plunge the U.S. back into recession. Republicans would like to see some of the "Bush tax cuts" restored and defence spending cut less robustly. Democrats would prefer to see tax cuts for middle-income Americans restored but ended for the very wealthy. Unfortunately, stopping short of the edge of this cliff will require bipartisan co-operation that has, to this point in Obama's administration, been absent from Washington discourse.

Doer believes the fallout from previous gridlock -- including the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating in the wake of the debt-ceiling crisis -- is enough to soften partisan hearts.

He admitted his perspective is affected by an acute Canadian interest in having the Democrats and Republicans on the same page. Cross-border shoppers may celebrate declines in the U.S. dollar and the corresponding rises in the loonie, but neither trend is good for our economy.

Doer said Canada is doing better than the U.S. on just about all economic measurements. As a percentage of our gross domestic product, we spend less on health care and have less debt and deficit. Our old age pension and other retirement benefits are better funded. And our unemployment is lower. And yet, Doer said, we know we need a robust U.S. economy to help keep the pistons of our economy firing.

Doer said he believes the dire consequences of partisan gridlock will help the two parties co-operate. "The consequences can sometimes bring people together."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2012 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose protects her nest full of eggs Monday on campus at the University of Manitoba- Standup photo- Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think zipper-merging will help clear up Winnipeg's traffic woes?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google