U.S. envoy to Canada calls for end of partisan gridlock after Tuesday election

OTTAWA – After Tuesday’s presidential election, Americans on both sides of the political divide need to “get their act together” and co-operate on fixing their ailing economy, says the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Envoy David Jacobson held that out Monday as the best hope for the U.S. to turn the corner economically — something that will have a major effect on Canada’s prosperity.

Jacobson reiterated his core message that the best thing that the U.S. can do for Canada is to get its fiscal house in order because the two countries are so closely linked economically.

And the only way that’s going to happen is if his country unites — if only for a short time — behind its president, whether it’s a re-elected Democrat Barack Obama or a new Mitt Romney Republican administration.

“There is a long history in the United States of deadlock … Our system was designed so that it only works when everybody kind of gets together,” Jacobson said in an interview Monday.

“My hope is that whoever wins that we are able to do that, we’re able to find one of those glorious periods in American history where people come together and we do stuff.”

Jacobson, a Democrat who was part of Obama’s historic 2008 election team, stressed he was speaking as the non-partisan diplomatic representative of all Americans.

He said there will be little difference in the day-to-day management of Canada-U.S. relations — on trade, border issues, energy and the environment — regardless of who wins the White House.

But because Obama and Romney offer starkly different visions of how to fix their country’s economy, there’s much riding on the election for Canadians, he said.

“That will have a real impact on Canadians. This election really does mean a lot to Canadians,” Jacobson said.

“We’ve just got to get our act together.”

He pointed to last week’s praise that New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie heaped on Obama for the federal government’s response to the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy as positive piece of bipartisan behaviour.

“It was a good example of how in difficult times, Americans come together. There are probably not a whole lot of people who have more differences than Gov. Christie and President Obama, but when the chips are down, they’re there together.”

Jacobson said the storm helped underscore a key difference between Obama and Romney — on the role of government in helping citizens in hard times.

“It may have reminded some folks of the importance of government. It’s easy for people to dump on government but every once in a while when they decide they really need it, they’re really glad that (it is) there.”

Jacobson held to his belief that Obama has enough of a lead in several key swing states, Ohio especially, to win the 270 electoral college votes necessary to claim a second term in the White House.

But he said Romney closed the gap in the last month, especially with his strong performance in the presidential debates, and has presented himself as a viable alternative to Obama.

A handful of new polls released Monday showed Obama clinging to a slim lead in the key battleground of Ohio — a state that all Republican candidates have historically had to carry to win the White House.