Published March 7, 2016 on the Journal of Political Inquiry | By Clare Church
Well, well, well. How the tables have turned. It was only last month that I was still getting a constant barrage of “You’re Canadian?! That’s so cute!” or “You say ‘about’ funny!” or even better, “Is Canada even a real country?” But as the spectacle of American politics turns scarier and scarier, I find myself answering those impertinent comments with a kind “Oh so now you want to move to Canada?”
Following last week’s Super Tuesday results that put Donald Trump in a clear leading position, internet searches for how to “move to Canada” were higher than any time in Google history, according to the Google Trends twitter account—searches spiked more than 350 percent in four hours. As the final tallies for Super Tuesday were coming in, Toronto City Councillor Norm Kelly tweeted the link for the Canadian federal government’s “Apply to immigrate to Canada” webpage. The link has since been retweeted more than 48,998 times.
It seems as if the neighbour to the North is no longer the quaint, cold, laughing stock it once was. While most are looking to the land of maple syrup to escape Donald Trump, there is a small group of people who are looking to escape the Democratic candidates as well. As sorry as us Canadians are to hear of your current political frustrations, we feel there are certain things you need to know before packing up your bags for the Great White North.
First thing’s first. If you’re planning on moving to Canada to avoid any of the leftist-leaning candidates, you are definitely barking up the wrong maple tree. After Obamacare was passed in 2010, a fury of twitter users threatened to move to Canada in the hopes of avoiding socialized healthcare. Do I have news for you. Canada passed its version of “Obamacare” in the 1960s and we have been getting free healthcare since the 1980s. Canada ranks sixth in the world on the Social Progress Index: a report that takes into account measures such as tolerance and inclusion, access to advanced education and basic medical care.
Socialism is not a bad word in Canada. Canada’s current policies regarding healthcare, financial regulation and labour, are in fact on par with Democratic candidate Bernie Sander’s proposals. Some laws, especially in regards to family policy, grossly exceed Sander’s platform. We even have legalized weed and same-sex marriage, and women face few restrictions to abortion. In addition, Canada has already accepted 28,548 Syrian Refugees with promises to accept more. Two weeks ago, the Ontario provincial government even announced a plan to cover university tuition for students with a family income of less than $50,000 a year. So if you’re one of the many Americans who looked up how to “move to Canada” to escape the prospect of a socialist president, we strongly urge you to reconsider.
And since when is it in the American spirit to pack your parka and leave when the goings get tough? After the Tea Act passed in 1773, Americans didn’t admit defeat, strap on their snowshoes and head to the border. They stayed, threw that tea in the harbour and staged a revolution!
While a revolution is not necessary, perhaps a higher American voter turnout rate is. In the 2012 U.S. election, the voter turnout rate was 53.6 percent among eligible voters. According to the Pew Research Center, statistics show the United States has the fourth lowest voter turnout rate among OECD countries, outranked only by Japan, Chile and Switzerland.
Canada too, had a similarly low voter turnout rate; in 2011 only 61.1 percent of Canadian voters took to the polls. But after a decade of the Conservative party’s rule, a disgruntled Canadian population showed up in record numbers to the 2015 election, increasing voter turnout by over 7 percent. If the idea of a Donald Trump presidency leads you to consider switching your career to either hockey or forestry, I instead offer a simpler and less arduous solution: vote.
The United States is known for its patriotism—which is perhaps why I was so shocked to hear of the surge in Americans looking up how to move to Canada. According to a 2015 YouGov survey, the United States was ranked one of the most patriotic countries in the world; second only to Thailand. This doesn’t seem like the type of population who would so readily leave their cherished homeland.
Don’t get me wrong. Canada, of course, is wonderful. We are home to the founders of basketball (yes that’s right, basketball), butter tarts (look them up, they will change your life), insulin, and egg cartons (you are welcome). But we are not perfect. Let’s not forget the unfortunate incidence of Toronto’s corrupt, crack-smoking mayor, Rob Ford. I’ll admit it, we too, have our problems. But instead of threatening to leave after the release of Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein commercials, we adopted a most American quality of pride and resiliency.
We urge you to stay strong and remember a founding principle of the United States: democratic elections. And if that doesn’t work, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia is ready to receive you with open arms.