|Merchandise with the likenesses of U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are displayed for sale in a shop at Union Station in Washington on July 25, 2012. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
TAMPA, Fla. - Forget Floridians and Wisconsinites, Canadian residents may be the real swing state voters to decide the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.
With about one million U.S. citizens living in Canada -- about one-sixth of all Americans living elsewhere -- and this election poised to be close, the former head of the Republicans Abroad in Canada organization said votes from Canada will matter in November.
"You can imagine if you have (electoral college) votes that are decided by maybe a dozen voters, those electors in Canada will have a significant impact on the United States elections, and certainly in Michigan and Ohio, places that I know many Calgarians are from, will have a dramatic impact," Gerry Chipeur told QMI Agency and Sun News Network Thursday here at the Republican National Convention.
He said there's about 100,000 Americans in Calgary alone, where he himself practices law.
The rules are simple. American citizens living abroad who are eligible voters can cast ballots in the U.S. state where they last lived. (Chipeur has voted in California since he was 18.)
And if it's a state that could be won by either President Barack Obama or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney -- for example, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia and now Wisconsin -- votes from Canada could tip the balance.
"It's clear that in the 2000 election, Republicans abroad were the difference between winning and losing for George Bush, and they might be this time around as well," Chipeur said, adding there is a lot at stake in this election for Canada-U.S. relations.
Romney, he said, would be far better for Canada than President Barack Obama has been, not only when it comes to the Keystone XL pipeline, but in all aspects of trade and even the border itself.
"Certainly he has strong personal connections in southern Alberta, friends and individuals within his church and within his business circle in Canada, and he spent most of his summers as a youth in Ontario and enjoyed it, and I think he loves Canada as a nation and understands Canada," Chipeur said.
"But that's only part of it. He's also a businessman and he knows if we can get rid of these barriers to trade between our countries, that will add billions to the bottom line.
"That's what he's promised, to get America working again and making America prosperous again. And if the United States is prosperous and working again, then you know the impact on Canada is multiplied."
Romney has pledged, if elected in November, he'll approve the controversial $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline within the first 100 days of taking office. Romney's sister still reportedly owns the family summer home on Lake Huron in southern Ontario, which was purchased by Romney's father when the family lived in Michigan.