A recent study showed nearly one in four British Columbians is kept awake because of U.S. politics. (Wikimedia)

COLUMN: International politics gets in the way of a good night’s sleep

Survey suggests one in four British Columbians is awake at night because of U.S. politics

A couple of statistics in a recent survey about sleep left me baffled.

The 1,000-person survey, commissioned by Leva Sleep, a Canadian adjustable bed retailer, included some data on what keeps Canadians awake at night.

In British Columbia, nearly one in four of those surveyed said American politics kept them from enjoying a good night’s sleep. One in three said they were losing sleep over the possibility of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: B.C. breaks single-day record for new COVID 19 cases; 269 total cases over weekend

READ ALSO: Stats Canada survey suggests some Canadians worried about safety of COVID-19 vaccine

I can understand the concerns about a second wave of COVID-19, especially since the number of new cases in British Columbia has been rising since July. At present, there is no cure for this disease, and no vaccine is available. Of the more than 120,000 closed cases in Canada, eight per cent have ended in death.

Concern over this pandemic is valid, and I can understand people losing sleep over it.

But I don’t understand why American politics would keep Canadians from having a good night’s sleep.

Some would say it’s because the United States plays a dominant role in world affairs. The Americans have a powerful military, spending more on its armed forces than the next 14 largest militaries combined.

However, the last time the U.S. turned its military power towards Canada was more than 200 years ago, during the War of 1812. We’ve enjoyed peace since that time. We get along with our neighbours to the south.

The United States boasts the world’s largest economy and it is Canada’s largest trading partner. More than three-quarters of Canada’s exports go to the United States, and more than half of Canada’s imports come from the United States.

American decisions on international trade will affect us in this country, and there are times when the U.S. has imposed trade decisions that affect us directly. But most U.S. political matters, aside from trade, tariffs and decisions about our shared border, don’t have a huge effect on us in this country.

Even the upcoming presidential election has a far bigger impact on Americans than on Canadians.

If someone in this country is going to lose sleep over politics, it would make more sense to be kept awake because of Canadian politics. However, only one in 13 people surveyed said they were losing sleep because of Canadian politics.

READ ALSO: Trudeau considered best to manage pandemic, revive economy, poll suggests

There’s a lot happening at the various levels of government in this country, and it affects us all.

One example is our federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and other federal aid programs. At the provincial level, legislation and policies has the potential to affect everyone in British Columbia.

And the decisions made by mayors and councils around the province have the potential to shape our day-to-day lives far more than anything at the provincial, federal or international levels. What a council decides on tax rates, land use and other matters will shape the communities where we live.

Most of the issues happening outside of our country have a much smaller effect on us.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with news and events happening around the world. It’s good to be informed. But worrying about such things is pointless. Worry doesn’t change anything.

And with that, it’s time to shut down for the day and go to sleep.

I hope I don’t have dreams about international politics.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

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