Do the fac­tors that led to Trump pres­i­dency add up in Canada?

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - STEPHANIE LE­VITZ

Kevin O’Leary is a busi­ness­man, re­al­ity TV star, pho­tog­ra­phy buff and self-pro­fessed air­plane geek.

He is not, how­ever, an Ot­tawa politi­cian. And he’s bank­ing on that to get him elected as leader of the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party and then, prime min­is­ter of Canada.

“I think the body politic in Canada is like the rest of the world. They’re tired of the BS, they’re tired of the politi­cians BS-ing them and spin­ning them and they want an oper­a­tor,” O’Leary said in a re­cent in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press.

The word most com­monly ap­plied to Trump’s vic­tory is “pop­ulist” — a po­lit­i­cal term for peo­ple ris­ing up for change when an elite class is seen to be op­press­ing the ma­jor­ity.

“Peo­ple who have fallen be­hind badly, who see no prospects for a bet­ter fu­ture, so they are fear­ful and an­gry and re­sent­ful; and that trig­gers and en­gages re­cep­tiv­ity to cer­tain types of po­lit­i­cal ap­proaches that nor­mally wouldn’t be that res­o­nant,” is how Cana­dian poll­ster Frank Graves de­scribed what hap­pened in Trump’s vic­tory

What peo­ple are re­cep­tive to, Graves said, is a leader who pro­poses a de­ci­sive set of an­swers to the ques­tions plagu­ing them.

For peo­ple who feel left out by glob­al­iza­tion, it’s a prom­ise to end free trade. For peo­ple con­cerned about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, it’s thicker bor­ders.

What hap­pened in the U.S., ar­gues Clark Banack, a po­lit­i­cal-sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Brock Uni­ver­sity, is that Trump was able to speak to dif­fer­ent con­stituen­cies at the same time and rally them enough that they were will­ing to over­look qual­i­ties they may have found of­fen­sive.

Broadly, the con­sen­sus among po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists and econ­o­mists seems to be that fac­tors un­der­ly­ing fear and anger do ex­ist in Canada — but nowhere near U.S. lev­els.

Take in­ter­gen­er­a­tional in­come mo­bil­ity, the ex­tent to which dif­fer­ences in in­come are trans­mit­ted from one gen­er­a­tion to the next. A study by the Con­fer­ence Board of Canada found this coun­try’s record is far bet­ter than the U.S.: if a fam­ily here earns $10,000 less in­come than the av­er­age, the chil­dren, when they be­come adults, will earn $1,900 less than av­er­age. In the U.S., chil­dren would earn $4,700 less.

In the U.S., Trump har­nessed fears about bor­der se­cu­rity and ter­ror­ism to cap­ture votes. A July 2016 poll by the As­so­ci­ated Press found 53 per cent of Amer­i­cans thought the U.S. should al­low fewer Syr­ian refugees to en­ter the coun­try, at a time when the level was set at 10,000. In Canada, a Jan­uary 2016 poll by the fed­eral Im­mi­gra­tion Depart­ment found 53 per cent of Cana­di­ans agreed with the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment re­set­tling 25,000 Syr­ian refugees.

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