Student Life

McGill students react to the U.S. presidential election

McGill students watched alongside the world as the hostile fight between Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joseph Biden and Republican incumbent President Donald Trump concluded with the announcement of Biden as president-elect

Chelsea Finstad, U2 Arts, lived in the United States for eight years but has Canadian citizenship. Finstad was shocked to see some politicians abandon their party affiliations during this election.

“I’ve been surprised at how different this election has been from previous ones,” Finstad said. “This election is so important that it has even caused faithful Republicans to cross party lines and endorse a Democrat. I’ve seen how polarized the [United States] has been and seeing this change was a bit unexpected.”

Many Canadian students at McGill were invested in the results of the election. Mominah Malik, U0 Arts, is Canadian, but believes that the United States’ election outcome will reverberate across the world.

“[The United States] is a major country, economically and socially and in many other different ways,” Malik said. “So the politics within the country [are] extremely important and will impact future relations between the [United States] and other countries, which [in turn] will affect how other countries go on.”

In the Fall 2020 semester, McGill welcomed 2,210 international students from the United States. Rachel Kalmanovich, U3 Arts and president of Democrats Abroad at McGill, helped many American McGill students send in their ballots from Montreal.

“I think that this election is one of the most important of our time,” Kalmanovich said. “The next president will not only be overseeing a worldwide pandemic, but also the post-pandemic economic recovery. In addition, they will likely be charged with choosing at least one Supreme Court justice.”

Lily Mackey, U0 Arts and a dual Canadian-American citizen, was also involved with the election, interning with Andy Kim’s congressional campaign in New Jersey’s third district. She believes that U.S. citizens underestimate the impact of the election on the rest of the world.

“Having citizenship elsewhere, I am fully aware that any election in America is not just affecting America,” Mackey said. “In the [United States], a lot of people have the mentality that their choices and what happens within the American government [are] just relevant to them, but that is just so far from the truth.”

Other American McGill students were not actively involved in campaigns, but were still invested in the results. Jackson Hejtmanek, U0 Sciences, is an American citizen living in Montreal who missed eligibility to vote by one day due to his birthday. 

“I barely noticed that I was in Canada because everyone was still interested [in the election],” Hejtmanek said. “I feel like I should have done something other than the occasional Instagram story though, and I feel slightly guilty about that.”

Nathaniel Saad, U1 Management, is Canadian but has family living in the United States. On Nov. 2 he spoke about the election on CBC Radio’s “Let’s Go” with Sabrina Marandola and predicted that there would be a lot of unrest in the wake of results being declared.

“I think no matter who wins, we can expect some chaos in the days following the results,” Saad said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Canada will be affected by this outcome whether it’s in the forms of tariffs, international security, or simply human rights.”

Despite warnings that the nation might not know the winner until mid-December, most major news outlets announced Biden as president-elect on Nov. 7. For many students, this was a relief.

“I just feel more satisfied with the world now that it’s official and excited to see what comes next,” Hejtmanek said. “I would consider myself fairly left[-leaning politically], but I’m still optimistic about his time in office.”


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