What the U.S. government shutdown actually means for Canada

The big news: Few outlets really explain how Canadians are affected

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

“Fear of the unknown largely summed up the concern of Canadian business leaders as they watched U.S. lawmakers march toward a government shutdown.”—The Globe and Mail‘s report on antics in Washington, D.C.

Every single time the American economy faces some kind of crisis, people in Canada get nervous. Any risk south of the border threatens our own economic good fortune. That’s now a truism. Today, because federal lawmakers are playing a dangerous game of chicken in Washington, D.C., the federal government is temporarily shutting down. Congress couldn’t pass a budget, so the government can’t spend much money. The army’s still on alert, but national parks are shuttered. Naturally, we’ve been warned about what it all means for Canada.

“Once again, Canada’s economy is being overshadowed by our big neighbour,” lamented the Financial Post, which quoted an economist as saying a U.S. economic slowdown would “pull us down” with it. Scotty Greenwood, a senior trade specialist, repeated an oft-quoted line to the Toronto Star. “If we begin to see a significant impact on the U.S. economy, it becomes an obvious problem for Canada and Canadians,” he said. “The two economies are now so intermingled and intertwined, you just don’t want to go there.” Ian Lee, a business professor at Carleton University, told CTV what scares him most if the U.S. suffers: “My biggest fear is the economy.”

So, yes, we’re at the mercy of our American neighbours. But these reports don’t really tell anyone much of anything. Which Canadians will actually be affected by this particular, and still only potential, slowdown?

Among the morning crowd, only The Globe and Mail explains a couple of specific problems: what happens, or doesn’t happen, at border crossings during a shutdown is worrying, and businesses that deal directly with the U.S. government are concerned about what will come of those particular relationships.

Oh, and if you’re a Canadian who was hoping for an autumn trip to Yosemite, well, you might be a bit disappointed.


What’s above the fold

The Globe and Mail A government audit of a major Ontario pension trust found irregularities.
National Post Prominent Canadian women want a gender-neutral national anthem.
Toronto Star Two Canadians imprisoned in Egypt may face murder charges.
Ottawa Citizen NDP MPs were accused of manipulating new riding boundaries.
CBC News The U.S. government is temporarily shut down.
CTV News About 800,000 American public servants are temporarily off the job.
National Newswatch Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen will pay back improperly claimed expenses.

What you might have missed

THE NATIONAL Human rights. Arthur Porter, a former head of Canada’s spy agency watchdog, wants the United Nations human rights commissioner to investigate his claims that he’s being detained illegally in Panama and, additionally, that his wife was illegally extradited to Canada. Porter was charged with fraud in February, and says he’ll fight his extradition to Canada.
THE GLOBAL Iraq. Bombings in Baghdad killed at least 55 people in mostly Shi’ite neighbourhoods. A car bomb at a vegetable market in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City killed seven and wounded 16. Nine other neighbourhoods were hit with attacks, killing 44 and wounding 139. An evening roadside bomb attack near a Baghdad mosque also killed four.
THE QUIRKY Cat kills. Environment Canada claims cats are the biggest bird killers in Canada—by a wide margin. Felines are apparently responsible for 196 million bird deaths every year, a number that might run as high as 350 million. The remaining human-driven causes of bird deaths don’t come close, though power lines do kill 25.6 million birds a year.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.