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John Ibbitson: Is there a Canadian case for Mitt Romney as president?

Canadians emphatically disagree, but there are reasons why they should hope Mitt Romney becomes president.

The Republican candidate is wildly unpopular in this country. A poll last May showed that only 9 per cent of Canadians would vote for him, if they could. Fully 65 per cent said they would vote for President Barack Obama.

But maybe those 65 per cent should reconsider. Herewith, the Canadian case for Mitt Romney as president:

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First off, President Romney would know Canada better than any president in history.

He spent part of his youth here, at a cottage in Grand Bend, Ont., where his family went for the summer and which they still own.

As a Michigan boy, he was part of that large band of Americans and Canadians who passed easily and often between Detroit and Windsor, which were practically twin cities in those happy days before passports and tight border controls.

He was more bilingual in his twenties than Stephen Harper was in his, thanks to two-and-a-half years spent in France as a Mormon missionary.

His venture capital firm, Bain Capital, made investments in Canada. He was governor of Massachusetts, which has close historical and cultural ties to the Maritimes. He knows this country.

In contrast, Mr. Obama, before becoming president, visited Canada a few times to see his sister, who had married a Canadian doctor. He found it cold.

Mr. Romney is a keen proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring oil south from Alberta to American refineries. Mr. Obama vetoed the pipeline for environmental reasons, though he is widely expected to unveto it if re-elected.

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And there is an argument that Mr. Romney would be good for the broader Canadian economy.

The biggest problem facing the United States is debt: personal and federal. If Republicans capture the White House and Senate, this could open a window for reforms aimed at kick-starting the economy while balancing the budget.

Granted, the Republican plan – cutting taxes but still eliminating the deficit by slashing spending on most things while increasing spending on defence –could reasonably be described as "stupid."

But when it comes to balancing the budget, any plan is better than no plan, which is all a gridlocked Congress has produced on Mr. Obama's watch.

And if tax cuts stimulate economic growth, that will be good for Canada's economy, which still relies heavily on exports to the United States.

So: In Mitt Romney Canadians could look to a president who would know Canada well, who could speak to Quebeckers in French, who loves the oil patch and whose policies would create Canadian jobs. What's not to love?

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Everything, actually. Mr. Romney's biggest problem, as far as most Canadians are concerned, is that he's a Republican. Tax cuts for the rich. Sabre-rattling over Iran. Opposing gay rights. Opposing health-care reform. Sabre-rattling over China. Religion in everything. Sabre-rattling over Russia. Loving guns. Opposing abortion. Sabre-rattling over Latino immigration. Liking Rush Limbaugh.

It is true that Canadian politics is polarizing between left and right. It is also true that even most conservative Canadians are appalled at what the Republican Party has become under the baleful influence of the Tea Party.

The Canadian case for Mitt Romney? Maybe there isn't one after all.

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