Over 66,000 Canadians fought and died in the First World War. In the Second, more than 45,000 gave their lives for Canada. Our military involvement in Afghanistan resulted in the loss 158 Canadian lives. In the midst of our week honouring the Canadian Forces, we would like to take a moment to look at our nation’s democracy and that of our neighbours to the south, to ask ourselves what these men and women died for. They died to protect our rights and freedoms, and the democratic values that our respective constitutions enshrine.
Last night, the American people elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The media is variously attributing his success to America rejecting the governing elite and leftist political correctness, as well as the country’s deeply entrenched racism, sexism and xenophobia. Why the American people elected this man is as complex as it is disturbing. But regardless of why he was elected, as of this morning, we live in world where many Americans condone systemic injustice and overt racism against Black Americans, Mexicans, and Muslims. We live in a world where the American President can brag about sexually assaulting women, face sexual assault accusations numbering in the double digits, and a statutory rape charge. If you have ever wondered why women don’t report rape, now you know. Today, we live in a world in which the leader of one of the world’s most powerful nations has advocated for committing war crimes against the families of terrorists.
Among the most disturbing revelations in this election is that we now live in a world where the US President openly renounces the values that underpin western democracy. Democratic governance, human rights, and the rule of law are democratic pillars. Trump openly claimed that the election would be rigged against him, undermining the validity of the will of the people and the constitutional necessity of a peaceful presidential transition. When Trump supported Republican efforts to block Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, he once again degraded the President’s constitutional jurisdiction. Even more terrifying is how his supporters have amplified this disregard for constitutional integrity. When #RepealThe19th was trending on twitter, Trump supporters were openly advocating for eliminating women’s constitutional rights. And this list is by no means exhaustive.
Both American and Canadian founders recognized the danger of a demagogue kindling the fears of a nation. The US Constitution entrenched the Electoral College system in an effort to prevent the direct election of the president, knowing the potential national tumult such an election method might inspire. In his collection of essays, The Federalist Papers, founding father Alexander Hamilton warned that directly electing the president could lead to leaders talented only in “low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity.” An accurate and generous description of the incoming president. The Electoral College system failed to achieve its objective, as States currently allocate their electoral votes based exclusively on the majoritarian preferences of voters.
The Canadian founders noted the problem of a president holding power without accountability to an elected body of representatives. As a result, the Canadian Prime Minister is selected by their party and executive power is only exercised by ministers with the confidence of the elected members of Parliament. Not a perfect system by any means, but an effort to thwart a Trump-like Candidate.
Today many in Canada feel more proud than ever to be Canadian, but lest we forget that our hard fought democracy is fragile and we must protect it against the tide of hatred, fear and bigotry that engulfed the United States last night. We write this post still trying to grapple with America’s reckless method of rebelling against the establishment.
To Canadians, know that this sentiment exists in Canada. Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch praised American voters today, saying that same message needs to come to Canada. We have to celebrate our diversity, not fear it; we have to champion human rights not regress into fear and injustice. We are a strong nation worth protecting, for ourselves and for those who sacrificed for what Canada is today.
Your humble and grateful servants,
* Special thanks for Prof Eric Adams for his exceptional op-ed in the Globe and Mail “In the U.S. and Canada, the founders always feared a Trump”
 “First World War (1914 –1918)” (26 August 2016), Veteran Affairs Canada (website), online:<http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/first-world-war>
“Canada in Afghanistan - Fallen Canadian Armed Forces Members” (26 August 2016), Veteran Affairs Canada (website), online: <http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/canadian-armed-forces/afghanistan-remembered/fallen?filterYr=2002>
Eric Adams, “In the U.S. and Canada, the founders always feared a Trump”, The Globe and Mail. (03 November 2016), online: <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/in-the-us-and-canada-the-founders-always-feared-a-trump/article32653825/>
 Laura Stone, “Trump's message must come to Canada, Kellie Leitch says in Tory leadership bid”, The Globe and Mail. (09 November 2016), online: <http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/trump-message-needs-to-come-to-canada-leitch-says-in-tory-leadership-bid/article32760294/>