Windsor-Essex, Ont., cross-border workers weigh in on U.S. election
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Living in a border city, Windsorites have front row seats to this election. But some residents won’t be sitting on the sidelines: they will be there, watching the post-election aftermath play out — first hand.
Among them is Allison Tonkin, who has been teaching special education in Grosse Pointe, Michigan for 16 years. She says she’s never seen her colleagues and friends who live in Michigan so politically polarized during a U.S. election.
The hardest part — all she can do is watch.
“It’s frustrating because as much as it will impact me, what goes on impacts me, I have no say,” says Tonkin. “Because I’m not an American citizen and I don’t get to vote.”
Tonkin is an essential worker who crosses the border each day for work — even during the pandemic.
She isn’t concerned that the election result will affect employment status but she worries about what it will do to American society in general.
“The country is so divided. No matter who wins, I think there is going to be a lot of anger and a lot of stress and it impacts everyone around me when I go to work,” Tonkin says.
“I’m actually worried about the citizens’ reaction to whoever wins. Whichever way it goes, we’ve seen on the news that cities are being boarded up because everybody’s afraid of what the reaction’s going to be,” Tonkin adds.
Joseph Marchand has similar concerns.
“I noticed today in Detroit once I crossed over that they’re boarding up buildings in downtown Detroit. Which to me, I’ve never seen it. Twenty-three years I’ve never seen it,” Marchand says.
He drives a short-trip commercial motor vehicle back and forth across the Windsor-Detroit border every day. He says people he talks to are split on who should be the next leader, and worries that division will play out in the streets when initial results come down.
“People have a lot of fear and nobody knows what to expect and to me, if it gets out of hand tonight, I might be calling in tomorrow and not coming across because I’m not going to risk my life for anybody,” he says.
Marchand says the supply chain for goods crossing the border is intact today — but isn’t sure what the future could hold for his industry — depending on the election outcome.
“For once I’m actually worried,” Marchand says. “I don’t want to speculate but if it doesn’t go the (way) people want it, there could be an issue with commercial goods getting across the border at the end of the day.”
He believes the Canada-U.S. relationship is fractured — and needs to be repaired.
“It’s in turmoil right now. And I have a feeling if it goes one way, it will be repaired,” he says. “If it doesn’t, it could be a long road, a long road ahead for all of us.”