Canadians love American things. We have our own identity, but even the most nationalistic Canadian listens to American music or watches American movies. The same applies to politics. US elections are so much more entertaining than Canadian ones. I spent election night at the homes of two different friends watching US election results on TV and online.
The evening started out predictably. I was driving to Aylmer, Quebec where my friend Jean-Nicholas had invited a few people over to his place. Jean-Nicholas was getting snacks ready and CNN was streaming on the TV. I talked with Sonia and Greg, a couple who said they’re normally Conservative supporters in Canada but wanted Hillary Clinton to win in the U.S.
Jean Nicholas had left some markers and a pad of chart paper on a table for people to write down their electoral vote predictions on. I added mine, which turned out to be very wrong. As the results started showing up from Florida and North Carolina, the general feeling in the room was that the evening was not going to unfold like we thought it would. Every so often when the numbers went slightly back in Clinton’s favor, someone would shout “She’s back on top!” Jeremy, an old broadcasting school friend of mine and Trump admirer texted me and said “This Florida battle is stressing me out.”
I left the gathering at Jean-Nicholas’ place and drove over to Sean’s in Ottawa. Sean’s girlfriend Liz and my friend Dan were there, too. I had to make a trip to northern New York a couple of weeks before and took orders for snack foods only available in the United States. Sean wanted Birthday Cake Oreos and Dan wanted Andy Capp’s Cheddar Fries. We sat down with our junk food in front of Wolf Blitzer and John King on the TV and periodically checked NCPR online, too.
The numbers see-saw ride between Clinton and Trump continued. Dan provided a welcome distraction when he checked the hockey score on his phone. “If anyone cares The Habs (Montreal Canadiens) are up by one,” (over the Boston Bruins). Montreal ended up winning, 4-2, but Hillary Clinton still won Massachusetts.
Then things started to get more surprising. Even as the west coast results started coming in, it became apparent Hillary Clinton was not likely going to win. Dan surmised that an economic recession was imminent. Sean grimly noted Trump’s rather cavalier comments about nuclear weapons. Peter from Edmonton texted and said the Canadian immigration website had crashed due to a sudden increase in traffic. Was it only a coincidence? Jeremy texted and said he was “ecstatic.” Just after midnight, I decided it was time to head home.
On Wednesday, social media was full of despair from many of my Canadian friends. They all felt like they had some sort of stake in this election. The truth is though, aside from economic and social connections, Canadians didn’t have any control over it. The choices made were for Americans alone to make. We’re just the next-door neighbors.