The final time a U.S. presidential election resulted in uncertainty, the Canadian authorities adopted a coverage of claiming nothing till all of the votes had been counted and the authorized challenges resolved.
And advisers to the federal government of the day say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is sensible to undertake the identical method now — though the circumstances surrounding the present cliffhanger are vastly totally different than those who prevailed in 2000.
Back then, the uncertainty hinged on the disputed final result in a single state: Florida.
It took a month of recounts and authorized challenges earlier than Democrat Al Gore lastly conceded defeat to George W. Bush.
During that point, the Canadian authorities led by Jean Chrétien — concerned in its personal election marketing campaign on the time — took a wait-and-see method, permitting the American election course of to play itself out with out remark.
Silence is golden
Michael Kergin, Canada’s ambassador to Washington on the time, stated silence is much more golden now — when any trace of favouring a specific final result might solely inflame an already risky state of affairs in a deeply polarized United States, the place President Donald Trump is alleging election fraud.
“In a situation like that, I think discretion is even more important by the prime minister, to let the process run its course,” Kergin stated in an interview Wednesday.
By mid-evening Wednesday, Trump had secured 214 of the 270 electoral faculty votes wanted to win, whereas former vice-president Joe Biden had 253, based on The Associated Press.
Results in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada and Alaska remained unsure, with ballots nonetheless being counted.
Nevertheless, Trump declared himself the winner early Wednesday morning, denounced the continued counting of ballots as “fraud” and promised to take the matter all the way in which to the Supreme Court.
Trudeau declined to weigh in Wednesday, saying solely that the Canadian authorities is “watching very carefully events unfold in the United States” and can proceed defending Canadian pursuits as Americans resolve their “next steps forward.”
The ‘sensible’ method
Eddie Goldenberg, a high adviser to Chretien in the course of the 2000 Bush-Gore contest, stated that method is “pretty smart.”
“My own view is that you allow the Americans to decide who’s winning before you decide who the winner is,” he stated in an interview.
“Is it really for us to comment on? I think we’d do better to let the Americans decide what the process is … We’re not going to send the army in. We’re not going to send the RCMP in. We have to sit and wait and watch.”
Goldenberg and Kergin agreed that the standoff between Trump and Biden leaves the U.S. in a way more precarious state of affairs than the one the nation confronted 20 years in the past.
Neither Gore nor Bush “was suggesting that the election had been stolen or rigged or whatever” and the Canadian authorities knew that, finally, after the recounts and authorized challenges, each side would “respect the decision,” Goldenberg stated.
The state of affairs is totally different now, he stated, “We weren’t worried about violence in the streets, we weren’t worried about that type of polarization.”
Goldenberg stated everybody must “calm down, particularly when you’re outside the United States, because you’re not going to change the situation but you could make mistakes” that would harm relations with the U.S. down the highway.
Kergin stated Trudeau’s response acknowledges that the U.S. “is a democracy” and that to pronounce on the election outcome earlier than all votes are counted “would be, in a way, not respecting another democratic country, which happens to be our largest trading partner.”
That place, Kergin acknowledged, quantities to an implicit repudiation of Trump, who’s arguing that counting of mail-in ballots ought to be stopped.
“But you are, I think, in line with what you perceive as a democratic process as it’s established in the constitution.,” he stated. “You don’t get into the question of what are legitimate ballots and what are illegitimate ballots.”