Image used under CC, and with thanks to christhedunn
All around the world, the topic du jour is the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. While many of us celebrate his official swearing in, and the official departure of G.W. Bush, I can’t help but wonder what President Obama’s message of change means to Canadians, both at home and abroad. Numerous publications (The Star, MacLeans, Canada.com, Queen’s Journal etc…) have dusted off their crystal balls in an attempt to forecast how the new administration’s policies will impact the way ahead for America’s hat, aka Canada. By combining some of their insight with a Kingston-centric twist, here’s what President Obama means to Kingston.
Economy: Barack Obama didn’t get us in this mess, but it’s now his to clean up, and his remedy will somewhat impact us. Kingston is home to a large number of government agencies, while their employees have been relatively sheltered from the global economic meltdown. That said, there are still some manufacturing, retail and spin-off jobs that have been/will be negatively impacted by factors such as decreased consumer spending, and slowdowns in the automotive industry. As Obama’s dream team begins to right the ship, you can bet that they are going to shift their focus inwards to take care of their own before they worry about the consequences up north. Although cities such as Windsor and Oakville are more vulnerable when it comes to the closure of assembly plants, the ripple effect will undoubtedly be felt in Kingston. Be it decreased spending downtown and in big box stores, to more people relying on community assistance, and even a slump during the tourist season, we can expect to see it all before it gets better.
Environment: Throughout the election campaign, and during his inaugural address, President Obama acknowledged the global warming crisis and promised sweeping environmental change. As you may know, a majority of the energy imported by the US is shipped from Canadian sources such as Alberta’s tar sands. In an effort to curb expensive oil consumption, and reduce toxic emissions, Obama envisions a move towards cleaner technology, which will harness the power of solar, wind and geothermal technologies. Embracing green energy, coupled with the likelihood of stricter emissions guidelines may help make Canada more environmentally friendly. With projects including the Wolfe Island wind farm, solar domestic hot water program, and organic waste recycling, Kingston has come a long way over the past year. With any luck, the new US administration will help encourage additional development, which will result in a greener Kingston.
Inspiration: “This is the meaning of [America’s] liberty and our creed: why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath” (Barack Obama – exerpt from his inaugural address). Over the past few days, numerous stories of Canadians destined for the inauguration ceremony surfaced throughout national media outlets. It should come as no surprise that the world is excited about the first election of an African American president, specifically what it signifies in terms of moving beyond prejudice, discrimination and ignorance. With that in mind, I hope that President Obama helps inspire all those who feel disenfranchised, and gives Kingstonians all the more reason to practice equality and justice in our own backyard.
Happy Obama Day!