Graeme Thompson on a year of elections

On this week’s episode of Free Lunch by The Peak, we sat down with Graeme Thompson to talk about the record-setting number of elections happening around the world this year, what the likely outcomes are in countries like the U.K. and U.S., and what it all means for Canada.

What should we expect out of the elections in India and Mexico this year?

“India is the world's largest democracy, and the trade relationship with Canada is substantial. Narendra Modi is popular and will likely cruise into a third re-election this year. In Mexico, also a top trade partner, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador can’t run again, but his designated successor, Claudia Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City, is likely to win and continue in the same vein of policy. But immigration remains a big point of tension.” 

Where might Canada be missing opportunities for building relationships?

“You've got countries like India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Vietnam. You have the rise of the Global South, or the rebalancing of global power to the Indo-Pacific, and away from the Atlantic and Europe. That's going to challenge Canada to stretch its diplomatic muscles and build relationships in ways that it hasn’t in the past. For countries like the U.S. and U.K., the relationship with Canada is so deep and positive that it doesn’t really matter who’s in power.” 

What are the issues that will come up with the U.S. regardless of who wins? 

“Defence spending. The pressure is going to get turned up on Ottawa to put their money where their mouth is and hit the NATO commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence. Both parties in the U.S. are also pretty protectionist, which is not great from a Canadian POV because there's no more important interest for Ottawa in its engagement with the world than keeping the U.S.-Canada border open to the free flow of goods, people, and capital.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Listen to the full conversation here.