ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — Anyone but Bush seemed to be the consensus among Maine’s Canadian neighbors as they woke up Wednesday morning to learn that U.S. voters had elected Sen. Barack Obama president.
“After eight years, it was time for a change,” St. Croix Courier political writer John Gardner said Wednesday from his office in St. Stephen, as he described the mood of Canadians now that the election is over.
“[Obama’s] youth, his enthusiasm, the way he got the voters out — more than any particular issue that I think there might be between the two nations, it was that this is not George Bush. That is really what I am hearing,” Gardner said.
In another part of St. Stephen, Maria Kulcher was taking stock after the election and putting her thoughts into a letter to a friend.
Reading from the letter, Kulcher said, “So the USA has a new president-elect. One only hopes that the existing one won’t do too much damage between now and January. I have great hopes for Obama since I see him as intelligent as opposed to intellectual, logical, a realist and a consensus builder,” she read. “May he and his immediate family do well as they adjust to a remarkably new life. Sometimes getting what you wish for can be daunting.”
Asked if Obama had enough experience to be president, Kulcher said, “I look at him and I see someone who can be a statesman. One of the things people said, that was supposed to be a negative [was] that he did not have broad experience, that he hadn’t really been around very long, that he didn’t have an international understanding based on experience, and those things are all true.
“But the man, I would say, is probably a fast study,” she said, “and because he has the potential in him to be a real statesman, that means he knows when to listen and when to talk and that is the defining statement about a statesperson.”
St. Stephen resident Allen Gillmor stayed up late to watch the election results.
“I was pleased to see Obama win, not that I have anything against McCain, he is certainly a great American citizen and well respected and I was very pleased with his speech at the end,” Gillmor said. “But again, I think it is time for a change and I think the American people said let’s go with it and see what happens.”
Asked if Obama, a liberal, could work with Canada’s conservative government, Gillmor pointed out the Canadian government was moving more to the right having just re-elected conservative Stephen Harper as the country’s prime minister, whereas the American government was moving more to the left with the election of Obama.
“I don’t know if there is as much commonality now as there would have been,” he added.
Harper congratulated Obama early Wednesday morning.
A member of parliament and Canada’s minister of veterans affairs in Harper’s government, Greg Thompson of St. Stephen was on his way to the airport Wednesday to catch an airplane but stopped long enough to share his views on Obama’s win.
In Canada, a member of parliament is comparable to a member of the House of Representatives on this side of the border.
“It was a victory for the Democrats and Obama, and we are expecting good things from him as we view all administrations in the United States,” he said.
“It appears to be a good choice,” he added.
Thompson said he did not see a problem with the two countries working together. “Regardless of whether it’s Republican or Democrat … we are the biggest trading partner and [that] is beneficial to both sides, and I expect there will be no change in that.”
St. Stephen Mayor G.L. “Jed” Percell said the election results were the talk of the town in local coffee shops Wednesday morning as people either woke up to the results or had watched coverage into Tuesday night.
CTV Atlantic News out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, provided some of that coverage. The news agency was in Calais on Tuesday night talking with locals, and staff members stayed after to watch the results at a local steak house.
“We sort of thought it was a foregone conclusion that Obama was going to get elected and we were wondering what was taking the networks so long to actually declare him as president. That thought kept running through our minds,” CTV senior produce Peter Mallette said.
The networks began to call the election for Obama around 11 p.m. Tuesday.
While Mallette was back in Halifax getting ready for Wednesday night’s news show, CTV reporter Mike Cameron was in Calais on Wednesday morning getting local reaction to the end of the presidential race.
“Most of the people I spoke to seemed very happy with the results. There were a couple of people who felt that the wrong choice had been made. But I didn’t detect any bitterness whatsoever,” he said. “On the other hand, there was some disappointment, but having said that, the majority of people I spoke with were happy with the results. I asked them all: ‘Were they more hopeful?’ and there was no question they were more hopeful about the future of their country. I guess that’s what it’s all about.”