As the US election results rolled in on Tuesday night, the Canadian government’s immigration website crashed and Google search traffic around moving to the country surged.
Add to this the nearly 11 million hits for Business Insider’s guide to moving to Canada and it would appear that Americans are keen to flee Donald Trump by emigrating north. Just ask the nine celebrities, including Bryan Cranston, who threatened to do just this should Trump be elected.
I’m a Canadian, and with Trump’s victory injecting uncertainty into perceptions about the future for the US, it’s easy to see why the free healthcare and beautiful landscapes of my homeland — not to mention a charming and likeable leader in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — seem appealing.
But the friendly people (and the fact that our side of Niagara Falls is arguably much better) may not add up to a warm welcome for those hoping to escape a Trump presidency. Here’s why.
Canada — more than a friendly face
The election of Trudeau last year appeared to signal the start of a strong relationship between Canada and the US. Trudeau forged friendly ties with outgoing President Barack Obama following a testing few years under Stephen Harper’s Conservative leadership.
And it’s an incredibly important relationship for both nations. Canada was the main source of crude oil for the US last year, according to Forbes, and it is one of the country’s most crucial trading partners. Canada is also thought to support more than 8 million American jobs.
Despite this, Canada has long been seen by its southern neighbour as quiet and likeable — but sometimes laughable. The sort of friend you can walk all over.
The reality is far different. Canadians are as patriotic as they come and have a lot to be proud of. Revisit the beer brand Molson’s “I Am Canadian” campaign from 2000 or attend a Canada Day celebration around the world — as I do every year in London — for proof.
Canada is not only one of the top energy producers in the world — it also has a unique national identity, one that is accepting of refugees, and a multicultural government that reflects the country’s makeup.
Under Trudeau’s new leadership, the country is redefining the role it plays in the world and is determined to have its voice heard. In short, Canada is not the sort of friend you can walk all over.
Trudeau underlined this in an interview earlier this year. Asked by CBS News’ Lara Logan what Canadians didn’t like about the US, Trudeau said: “I had a conversation one time with an American parent of a friend of mine and she was a big supporter of a presidential candidate … I pointed out that if that person was run — if indeed this man was running to be, as Americans like to say, the ‘most powerful man in the world’ — I just felt like it might be nice if they paid a little more attention to the world.”
We can only speculate that the man Trudeau was referring to was Trump, who is now the US president-elect.
“Having a little more of an awareness of what’s going on in the rest of the world, I think, is what many Canadians would hope for Americans,” Trudeau said. “I think we sometimes like to think that, you know, Americans will pay attention to us from time to time, too.”
After Trump’s victory, many of his detractors in the US appear to have sat up and taken notice of Canada. But with those people having neglected their friendly neighbour in the past, it remains to be seen whether Canadians, and Trudeau, will welcome them with open arms.
This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.
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