Conservative Senate Leader Don Plett voiced support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s re-election during debate in the Red Chamber Wednesday.
Plett, a past president of the Conservative Party, said he’s hoping Republican senators are re-elected to a majority position in the U.S. Senate when all the votes are in next Tuesday, Nov. 3.
A third of that body is up for re-election this year and polls indicate that Democratic candidates are in a position to take some of the GOP-held seats in that chamber, which would shift the balance in power in Washington. Republicans hold 53 seats in that 100-person body.
“Two parties are fighting for a majority in the Senate right now. We can all hope that the right side will win that, and we will all send President Trump our congratulations when they do,” said Plett, a senator from Manitoba.
Asked why he is backing Trump and the Republicans in this campaign, a spokesperson for Plett said he had no additional comment.
The day before, during a debate on whether the Senate should implement virtual sittings so senators can participate either online or in person during this pandemic, Plett called Trump his “good friend.”
Plett defended his opposition to the hybrid virtual/in-person model and said that most senators should make the trip to Ottawa to attend the sittings, since schools and many workplaces are back to work.
Plett said he’s always taken the COVID-19 threat seriously, adding he was among the first senators to suggest the upper house suspend its operations in March as the country grappled with the first wave of the novel coronarvirus.
“I have been here for every sitting since this pandemic started. I was one of the first people to suggest to the Speaker, when the pandemic first came in — and I won’t be quite as adamant as my good friend Donald Trump south of the border, since Minister Freeland wanted to raise south of the border the other day, I will — that he close this down,” Plett said.
After banning most travel from China in January, Trump coordinated a national U.S. shutdown in mid-March in response to the mounting COVID-19 caseload. The president’s handling of the pandemic has been hotly debated during the election campaign.
Another senator, former Conservative Lynn Beyak — who was booted from that caucus in 2018 after she made controversial comments about the residential school system — sent $300 to Trump’s party in May.
She provided a non-existent New York address and postal code when making her donation.
Beyak has since said the donation was made in “error” and the money will be paid back. It is against U.S. federal law for a foreigner to make a campaign donation.
Trump has been a contentious figure in Canadian politics in the four years since his election.
Trump’s push to renegotiate NAFTA resulted in some Canadian concessions in the agricultural sector. He has been critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “very dishonest” and “weak,” after a 2018 G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Que.
Polls indicate that a solid majority of Canadians would support former vice president Joe Biden for the U.S. presidency.
A recent Léger poll found that 84 per cent of the Canadians it polled back Biden over Trump.
But a sizeable number of Albertans said they would support Trump over his Democratic opponent. In the Léger poll, 68 per cent of the Albertans polled would support Biden while 32 per cent went for Trump. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, only 18 per cent of those polled backed Trump.
Forty-one per cent of Canadian Conservative voters polled by Léger would support Trump over Biden.
That poll was in the field from September 25 to 27, 2020 and collected data from a sample of 1,514 Canadians over the age of 18. The poll had a margin of error of 2.52 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Trump has been a strong defender of the oil and gas industry and has backed TC Energy’s long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, which would move oil from Alberta to refineries in the U.S.
Biden has vowed to cancel Trump’s presidential permit allowing cross-border construction, a decision that would imperil a project that has the financial backing of the Alberta government.
Many NDP MPs have voiced vehement opposition to his presidency; former leader Tom Mulcair called Trump a “fascist,” Manitoba MP Nikki Ashton, who backed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, has called Trump a “fascist” and a “racist.”
Last year, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh expressed support for the move to impeach Trump, saying he wasn’t worried that such a position might threaten Canada-U.S. relations.