Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., gestures during a campaign rally Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Virginia Beach, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Expat Americans in Canada gear up to weigh in on Democratic primary race

Canada is home to the biggest proportion of Americans living abroad

Even though they live in Canada, expatriate Americans north of the border are gearing up to weigh in on the Democratic nomination on Super Tuesday and beyond as the battle to challenge Donald Trump appears poised to morph into an ideological battle between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

Of the estimated 3 million voting-age U.S. citizens living outside the country, Canada is home to the most in the world: more than 622,000 in 2016, says the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Of those, however, a paltry 5.3 per cent cast a ballot in the election that propelled Trump to the White House.

Democrats Abroad, the party’s official international wing, aims to change that in 2020 beginning with the primary race, which shifts into high gear this week with 14 states, one territory and expat voters around the world eligible to weigh in on their preferred nominee.

The Democrats Abroad Global Primary, which runs March 3-10, allows voters in 190 countries, representing every state and congressional district in the U.S., to cast ballots. The results will send 13 delegates to the party’s national convention in July, along with the eight Democrats Abroad members of the national committee. Some 19 polling stations will be set up across Canada, the bulk of them on Tuesday.

The numbers pale in comparison with the bonanza available to candidates on Super Tuesday itself — 1,357 delegates from 14 states and one territory, including California and Texas, the two biggest prizes of primary season. But every vote counts, especially in a delegate-based system, said Liz Olin, a Sanders supporter and member of ”Toronto for Bernie,” a group actively drumming up Canadian support for the independent senator from Vermont.

“Reaching U.S. citizens in Canada is of great importance … many people we talk to don’t realize they can vote or have never heard of the Democrats Abroad primary,” Olin said. ”Because the voting rate is typically so low, each vote in the global primary can have a significant impact — often around four times the impact of a vote in a state’s primary.”

In a recent online survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 28 per cent of respondents said they believed Canada-U.S. relations would improve the most with Sanders, an outsider and self-styled “democratic socialist” whose progressive policies, combative approach and “electability” against Trump have been giving moderate establishment Democrats heartburn for months.

Biden, Barack Obama’s vice-president and a moderate long seen as a viable Trump challenger thanks to his popularity with black and Latino voters, registered a distant second in that survey with just 14 per cent, followed by Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., at 10 per cent.

Biden flipped that script in dramatic fashion Saturday with his first-ever primary win in South Carolina, silencing critics who had placed his campaign on life support following dismal showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. But it will take Super Tuesday to determine whether he’s able to capitalize on his newfound momentum and prevent Sanders from establishing an insurmountable lead.

Tim Ellis, a self-described millennial expatriate who’s also active in the Toronto caucus of Democrats Abroad, described Sanders as a genuine, authentic political figure with the courage of his convictions — something young Americans have been craving in their leaders for generations.

“It is that authenticity, which Bernie has retained for decades despite being steeped in Washington, that makes him a once-in-a-generation leader, and that people respond to so fiercely,” Ellis said.

“We have grown up in a world suffused with marketing and sales pitches and an elite discourse that is built on half-truths and outright lies…. To us, Bernie is like a drink of fresh water in the desert.”

ALSO READ: Pelosi shreds Trump’s speech, right there on the podium

For Julie Buchanan, the vice-chair of Democrats Abroad Canada, the popularity of Sanders in her adoptive country and elsewhere around the world boils down to a single issue, the one that has been the cornerstone of his campaign: Medicare for All, the big-ticket pledge to replace the U.S. private-insurance health care patchwork with a single-payer, government-funded system.

“Most of us live in countries where health care is a human right,” Buchanan said. “Need I say more?”

For the rest of the Democratic field — Buttigieg, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who makes his ballot debut Tuesday — it could be a week of difficult conversations and heart-rending decisions.

All four have struggled to connect with black voters, who play a key role on Super Tuesday in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. Tom Steyer, the billionaire activist who spent $24 million on TV advertising in South Carolina in hopes of springboarding into contention going into this week, pulled the plug Saturday after finishing a distant third.

“We do a lot of math on this campaign,” Buttigieg said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’ll be assessing at every turn, not only what the right answer is for the campaign, but making sure that every step we take is in the best interest of the party and that goal of making sure we defeat Donald Trump, because our country can’t take four more years of this.”

James McCarten, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

PoliticsU.S.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

TV star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Port Alberni Toy Run launches new fundraiser for 2020

Toy Run teddy bears will help replace funds lost due to COVID-19 changes

Missing Port Alberni man found deceased

47-year-old had been missing since late June: RCMP

Longtime volunteer retires from Port Alberni’s Abbeyfield House

Doreen Bissette honoured for two decades of volunteerism

Savard prevails with best gross score at Alberni Golf Club

Men’s club prepares for ‘waltz’ on July 12

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Most Read