Legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, and a new bridge: Three U.S. ballot box propositions that affect Canada

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

While the Presidential election only affects Canada in several indirect ways, there are three ballot box propositions that will affect Canadians directly.

In Detroit, voters were asked to vote on proposition which would affect the development of the proposed Detroit-Windsor bridge. In Washington, residents were asked whether or not they wanted to support gay marriage. And in three states, electors were faced with an initiative asking if they wanted to see the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Here's how the votes went, and how they affect us north of the border.

1. Windsor - Detroit bridge

It looks like the Detroit-Windsor Bridge will be a reality.

As Global News reports, proposition 6 in the State of Michigan — which would have stymied the development of the Detroit River International Crossing — was defeated handily by voters on Tuesday.

According to reports, the owner of the existing Ambassador Bridge had spent about $40 million of his own money promoting Prop. 6, apparently in an attempt to protect his bridge 'monopoly' that nets him over $80 million a year.

Prior to results, Canadian ambassador to the United States, Gary Doer, told CBC News the multi-billion dollar bridge is very important for both countries.

"Two bridges are better than one for trade, for security, for reliability," he said.

"When you look at the proposal that the prime minister and the governor of Michigan came forward with it cuts out a lot of traffic lights in Windsor so that's good for the environment and traffic on our side of the border."

2. Legalization of marijuana

Washington State and Colorado are poised to become the pot capitals of the United States.

On Tuesday, voters in both states approved an amendment to legalize growth and possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana.

A similar propositions was also on a ballot in Oregon.

While pot is still be illegal under U.S. federal law, experts suggest that an affirmative vote in those states would put pressure on the feds to weaken the rules.

The positive votes could also have consequences for Canada.

Former B.C. attorney general Geoff Plant says that without the border "excuse," Canadian politicos will feel the pressure, too.

"For a long time, one of the excuses that's been used for why we shouldn't do anything to change the law in Canada is that we can't get too far ahead of the Americans on this issue. If we were to legalize — so the argument goes — we would antagonize our relationship with law enforcement on the other side of the border," Plant told the Globe and Mail last week.

He added that if the initiative passes, "then there's one less reason why Canadian policy makers should insist on the status quo."

3. Gay marriage in Maine and Washington

Voters in Maine and Washington have voted in favour of controversial ballot box propositions that legalize same-sex marriages in their respective states.

This is a vote that has implications for Canada — particularly for British Columbia's tourism industry.

B.C. has become a favoured destination for Washington State same-sex couples' looking to tie-the-knot.

According to the Globe and Mail, the tourism industry in British Columbia has proactively marketed Vancouver as a locale for gay weddings and has hosted several thousand over the past many years.

"Marriages do cost money, even small weddings, so obviously there's a positive economic impact for us," Candice Gibson, manager of consumer marketing for Tourism Vancouver, told the Globe.

Gay marriage is now legal in eight states and the District of Columbia.