U.S. ambassador to Canada on midterms, Trump, and truckers



Ahead of the upcoming midterm election within the United States, David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, sat down with CTV’s Question Period to focus on the state of democracy in Canada and the United States, and what he’s awaiting on Tuesday.

Cohen additionally delved into the prospect of former president Donald Trump operating for re-election, in addition to his ideas on the trucker protest and the Canadian authorities’s use of the Emergencies Act.

This transcript of Cohen’s interview with Joyce Napier for Sunday’s episode of CTV’s Question Period has been edited for size and readability.


Joyce Napier: Joe Biden has repeatedly stated democracy is on the poll this midterm, and that it is below menace. Are you afraid?

Ambassador Cohen: I’m an everlasting optimist. I’m not afraid. I imply, I imagine within the enduring nature of our democracy, and frankly, of the democracy of Canada as effectively. That does not imply that democracy is not below menace. It does not imply that there aren’t difficult occasions. It does not imply that all the pieces is easy and hunky dory. I do suppose democracy is below menace. But I do suppose ultimately, democracy will prevail. It all the time has prevailed, and I feel it’ll prevail once more.

Napier: Do you suppose it’ll prevail this time? Or will these voices that you just hear extra and extra within the United States take over?

Ambassador Cohen: This turns into a little bit of a sophisticated query, as a result of what does “takeover” imply? I feel it doesn’t matter what occurs on this midterm election, and bear in mind, we do not we do not have a parliamentary fashion of presidency, it doesn’t matter what occurs on this midterm election, Joe Biden will likely be president of the United States till at the least 2024. He will likely be he will likely be in command of the White House and management of the chief department of presidency till at the least 2024. Will MAGA-style Republicans win some congressional seats? I feel there is not any doubt that can occur. But the power of our system of presidency, the power of our democracy, is that nobody election goes to take down a democracy within the United States. I used to do a variety of work in politics. I’m the United States ambassador to Canada now, so I do not really need to be a political prognosticator. But the one factor I can inform you is that there’s a historic development that the occasion of the president loses a variety of seats in Congress on this first midterm election. There have been 22 midterm elections since 1934, and the occasion of the president has misplaced seats in 19 of these 22 elections. But the opposite factor I can inform you is that there is not any linkage between what occurs in a midterm election and what occurs within the presidential re-elect. Think about President Obama. Think about President Clinton. Both of them misplaced 60 or 70 seats in Congress in that first midterm election, and each of them comfortably received re-election two years later. So that is the sample and that is likely one of the the reason why I’m not involved, and I do not suppose Canadians ought to be involved concerning the consequence of a selected of 1 specific election within the United States.

Napier: Aren’t you involved that a few of these candidates operating for the Republicans are 2020 election deniers?

Ambassador Cohen: Well, it is not that they are election deniers that’s the menace, it’s the potential for what they could strive to do because of their beliefs round what occurred within the final election. And I feel what the president is anxious about is that these people may strive and change the election guidelines, may find yourself limiting entry to the poll, and to finish the free elections.

Napier: But they’re already doing that, Ambassador, in a few of these states. Isn’t it one thing that issues you?

Ambassador Cohen: I’m involved about any actions that probably limit the best of individuals to vote. I feel that may be a hallmark of our democracy. And it is one of many the reason why the President decried the violence towards Speaker Pelosi’s husband, as a result of violence has simply no place in a democratic system. And our elected officers are the households of our elected officers shouldn’t be subjected to the specter of violence, merely due to their relationship to an elected official. But to this point, I do not suppose there’s any actual proof that persons are not voting due to what occurred to Speaker Pelosi’s husband. I feel that though there are parts in our political system that, in my view, have an curiosity in limiting the best to vote, there is not any proof but that that is occurring. And I feel that it is in our system of presidency the liberty of the power to vote absentee, to vote by mail, is likely one of the nice protecting mechanisms, as a result of should you’re afraid to go to a polling place, otherwise you’re nervous a couple of polling place, nearly in every single place within the nation, now you’ll be able to vote by mail, or you’ll be able to vote absentee. They’re voting, they’re exercising their proper to vote and that’s the elementary hallmark of a democracy.

Napier: I need to discuss Donald Trump, as a result of he was in Iowa final week, and that is what he stated to a cheering crowd: “In order to make our country successful, and safe and glorious, I’ll very, very, very probably do it again. Get ready, that’s all I’m telling you.” Are you anticipating him to run once more?

Ambassador Cohen: So you are making an attempt to make me be a political commentator, which is your job, however I’m going to resist that, notably with that query, as a result of I do not know what Donald Trump goes to do, and I’ll be trustworthy with you, I do not suppose loads about what Donald Trump goes to do. I do not suppose it could be good for the Republican Party for Donald Trump to run once more. I do not suppose will probably be good for the nation. I feel he is a really divisive pressure in politics. But I’m really not panicked by the notion that he may run once more. I do not suppose he’ll win. I feel sufficient of the nation is uninterested in Donald Trump that I do not suppose he’ll find yourself getting a majority of the vote. I feel Joe Biden is probably going to run once more, he is stated he is going to run once more, and I like Joe Biden’s possibilities towards Donald Trump in spherical two.

Napier: You know we’re having an inquiry into the Prime Minister’s invocation the Emergencies Act. We’re listening to from testimony that a few of these folks wished to overthrow the federal government. There has been such a push within the United States. Does that fear you?

Ambassador Cohen: The problem of a radicalized right-wing populist motion that does not like giant establishments, together with authorities, isn’t just a United States and not only a Canada drawback. Most democracies on the earth are experiencing the identical sort of actions. Do I prefer it? No, I do not prefer it. I do not suppose it is wholesome. I do not suppose it is productive. But the take a look at cannot be whether or not these actions exist, the take a look at has to be are they profitable. They’re not profitable within the United States. They’re not profitable in Canada. I have not seen any authorities overthrown. I have not seen any native authorities overthrown, any provincial or state authorities overthrown, and I definitely have not seen any nationwide authorities overthrown. They could also be profitable at making noise, however they don’t seem to be profitable of their goal of overthrowing the federal government, and that’s due to the underlying power of democracy.

Napier: So Tuesday is the massive day in your nation. What are you going to focus on?

Ambassador Cohen: I’m most likely much less centered on Tuesday as an election day than lots of people in Canada are, as a result of I do not ascribe as a lot significance to midterm elections, as lots of people appear to be ascribing to them. Again, you have got these you have got these decades-long tendencies of the president’s occasion shedding a variety of seats in Congress. I do not know what is going on to occur on Election Day, but it surely’s not going to panic me if the Democrats lose seats in Congress. It’ll be similar to 19 of the final 22 midterm elections. I’m occupied with just a few elections, to see how they end up, as a result of that is seemingly to say whether or not the Senate goes to be Democratic or Republican: I’m occupied with my residence state of Pennsylvania, that is a really contested Senate race, I’ll be occupied with Nevada, which is a really contested Senate race. Any shut race, and I feel there are 4 or 5 of them, which may find yourself deciding the management of the Senate, these will likely be races that I’m watching, however not for any mega development.

Napier: There are a variety of us right here in Canada who’re very …

Ambassador Cohen: I’ve to say this: I speak to lots of people in Canada. I actually like doing that, the media, authorities officers, however simply common folks on the road, folks concerned locally and non-profit organizations, and there’s super data and concern about what is going on on with American politics. I’ve to say once I speak to my associates at residence, and do not take this the incorrect approach, no person’s speaking about Canadian politics. The occasion that has obtained, for my entire 10 months in Canada, essentially the most consideration from my associates at residence, was the trucker convoy.

Napier: Why is that?

Ambassador Cohen: Well, I feel you bought a variety of media within the United States. And I frankly I feel a lot of the media within the United States got here from the numerous disruption to commerce. We talked about shutting down $300 million a day and commerce going throughout the border. That attracted some actual consideration to it.

Napier: Did that specific problem concern you?

Ambassador Cohen: It involved me due to its affect on commerce. I’m a giant believer within the First Amendment, the best to categorical your self. I’m a lawyer by coaching, I can not get out of my regulation college coaching, however if you study the First Amendment in regulation college, one of many belongings you study is that it’s not a First Amendment proper to yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Because should you yell “fire” in a crowded theater, folks could run, they could get harm, and your First Amendment rights have to be balanced towards the general public security rights of all the remainder of the folks in that theater. So I’m a fierce defender of the First Amendment rights of the truckers and the folks taking part in that convoy, I’m not a fierce defender of the truckers’ rights to disrupt $300 million of commerce a day, to threaten the roles and the livelihood of 1000’s of Canadians and U.S. residents working in vehicle crops, on either side of the border, and that is the place the steadiness comes. So I’m absolutely in favor of their proper to exhibit, absolutely in favor of their proper to protest, however on the finish of the day, I’m not absolutely in favor of them blocking the busiest border crossing between Canada and the United States. And I do not need to inject myself into this, however I feel that is the motivation of the prime minister invoking the Emergencies Act, to make it possible for the powers existed, and the coordination existed on the finish of the day to finish the blockade and to open the Ambassador Bridge and the opposite border crossings again up to commerce. Notice in breaking apart the blockade no person was saying they could not proceed to exhibit, protest, carry indicators, and categorical their rights of free expression. It’s simply an exercising these rights they can not block commerce.

Napier: So the Emergencies Act as a good suggestion?

Ambassador Cohen: I’m unsure I do know sufficient about all of the intricacies of it. What was a good suggestion was the federal authorities, the provincial authorities, the native governments getting collectively coordinating and organizing themselves to break up the blockade. And I feel the Emergencies Act appears to have been a part of that calculation, and subsequently its invocation had the specified goal.

Napier: Interesting. David Cohen, thanks a lot for being right here and taking the time to speak to us.

Ambassador Cohen: Thank you for having me, and it doesn’t matter what the outcomes of the election are, America’s democracy will likely be alive and vibrant, and the sturdy bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada will proceed to exist, and profit thousands and thousands of Canadians and Americans on either side of the border.

Napier: Spoken like a real diplomat. Thank you.

Ambassador Cohen: Thank you.


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