Commentary: Canadian Refugees

By Beacon Staff

Before George W. Bush was re-elected. Before Howard Dean screamed. Before John Kerry was swift boated. There was a rallying cry among some on the left that if Bush, the man they love to hate, won the 2004 election they would follow through on this threat: “I’m moving to Canada if that happens.”

Oh Canada. A wonderful country apparently eager to embrace us with open arms no matter our political stripes. Fast-forward three years. The Democrats have taken Congress. Many are betting they will recapture the White House. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the frontrunner, the woman the right loves to hate. If she wins, some opponents now threaten: “I’m heading to Canada.”

In fact, on the social networking site Facebook.com, a group is aptly named, “If Hillary Clinton becomes president, I’m moving to Canada.” As of last week it included 485 members. That total is less than the number who have joined a group calling itself, “If Hillary Clinton gets elected president I’ll shoot myself!”

This begs the question: Is shooting oneself more appealing to some facebookers than moving to Canada? I’m not certain. The only certainty is that three years later this country is still so divided that some Americans ponder leaving rather than coping with the results of their Democratic system – the same system their government is eagerly trying to spread across the world.

The number of Americans who have recently moved to Canada suggests that many on the left followed through on their original threats. In 2006, some 10,942 Americans moved north, a 30-year high and almost twice as many as in 2000. Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association of Canadian Studies, told ABC News that the increase is fueled largely by social and political reasons; they are fleeing Bush’s reign.

“They’re coming because many of them don’t like the politics, the Iraq War and the security situation in the U.S.,” Jedwab said. “By comparison, Canada is a tension-free place.”

Not for long. Not if the Democrats control both branches of Congress and the White House following the 2008 elections. Not if conservatives follow through on their threats the same way, apparently, liberals did. There will be a mass exodus. The right will begin filing papers with the Canadian government, then wait impatiently to be embraced.

“You just can’t come into Canada and say, ‘I’m going to stay here,’” Immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi told Reuters following the 2004 election. “In other words, there has to be an application. There has to be a reason why a person is coming to Canada.”

To some Americans, hating a president is reason enough. If the second Clinton sets up shop in the Oval Office, far righters may leave and quite possibly end up mingling with far lefters certain to screech, “This whole Canada thing was our idea.”

More Canadians still move to America than Americans move to Canada each year. But that gap is shrinking. And now their money is worth as much as ours. So avoiding the fruits of American democracy is easier than ever. Thus the Clintons and the Bushes could end up heaping some our of partisan problems on our neighbor.

It’s hard to believe, but not everyone is thrilled about this prospect. It’s possible that we may not be greeted as liberators. One Canadian chimed in on an anti-Hillary Clinton FaceBook group: “We don’t want you. Your TV programs are enough. Stay there.”

So they’ll take “Fear Factor” and “Deal or No Deal” but they won’t embrace our bitter and vicious politics? The nerve.

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