American Culture

Note to Liberals: shut up about Canada already

Note to liberals: Stop saying “I seriously considered moving to Canada.” It sounds stupid (because it is), it’s not true, and it’s only providing hope and encouragement to the right wingnuts.

“I seriously considered moving to Canada.” Really? Did you travel to Canada, look at houses, check out schools, apply for a job? OK, did you start reading a Canadian newspaper or buy books on Canada? Did your “serious consideration” involve anything at all except saying that one silly phrase?

Didn’t think so.

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is you are right not to move to Canada, for any number of reasons.

First, Canada is less progressive than you think. It still has an expansive, interventionist military policy and it also has its own variety of Neanderthal political factions. Remember, much of Canada is more or less Alaska, and we know very well what those folks are like.

Second, Canada has a tiny, resource-based economy, so unless you want to drive a wheat combine or a fishing boat or a dump truck the size of Starship Enterprise up above the Artic Circle, there’s not that much for you to do. The U.S. is the most advanced economy in the world, a byproduct of which is that we are the most hyper-specialized economy in the world. Many of the jobs we have, particularly the high paying ones, don’t even exist in other parts of the world.

Third, the weather genuinely sucks. If you can afford to bid against newly-minted Shanghai billionaires for tiny two bedroom condos in Vancouver, you can get weather that is almost bearable—Seattle, only colder. Anywhere else in Canada and the weather is pretty lousy. These are people who in January go to Duluth to warm up. In theory, all of us like the change of seasons, etc, just fine. In practice, we all are weather wimps. As a nation, we have all been slowly but surely moving southward as the advent of air conditioning and anti-microbials let us do so. By the way, so have Canadians. I know a lot of Canadians, and they all live in Rio, the Caribbean and Sarasota, anywhere but Winnipeg.

Fourth, it’s not unbearable here yet. Sure, it may be one day. And when it is, history says we will leave, just as the Jews finally left Germany in the 1930’s and the blacks finally left the South. But it has to be pretty unbearable before people emigrate, and usually that unbearability has to involve not just political repression but physical danger, e.g., the Irish diaspora.

Fifth, there’s an awfully good chance you’d end up isolated and irrelevant, like the Confederate enclave in Brazil or the Mormon settlements in Mexico. (Or Utah for that matter, but I digress.) You’d be forgotten by history except as a tourist attraction, like the cotillions with hoop skirts they have in Brazil.

Sixth, Canada has quotas and probably wouldn’t let you in.

So you ain’t going nowhere. And I’m not either. None of us are. So we should stop saying it.

I mean, after all, what do we think we will gain by voicing that intent? Do you think the Tea Partiers regard that as a threat? They should. All the statistics say that mobile liberals are smarter, better educated, wealthier and contribute more so society than the average conservative. If there was a mass emigration of those on the upper end of the political left, it would be devastating to the U.S. economy and society. But you’re counting on a Tea Partier to understand statistics and broader economic implications? These are people who can’t understand basic arithmetic and you think they’ll understand macroeconomics? Really?

The truth is every time you say it a right wingnut smiles. It confirms their suspicion that you’re not a real American. (Traitors emigrate. Real loyal Americans secede, like Rick Perry.) And it gives them hope that one day you might do it. Remember, these are folks whose idea of a diverse society is, except for some trivial details, identical to that of Mullah Omar. In their view we are either Communists, Jew-Muslims, or gay, or some combination thereof. Their vision of the ideal society is one without us. They love to hear you say you’re headed north of the border, and in fact are available next Saturday to help you pack the truck.

So, shut up already.


14 replies »

  1. I think broad generalizations about Canadian weather and employment opportunities is much worse then a few liberals saying they are moving to Canada. But hey the author knows a few Canadian’s who moved, so he must be correct.

  2. I know a few people who moved to Canada, owned (or own) property and lived there for several years, tried to get Canadian citizenship, and ultimately moved back for many of the reasons described by the author. In fact, I know only one couple who ultimately stayed (although they’re ex-pats, not emigres), and their situation was unusual.

    So maybe Otherwise isn’t completely right, but from my experience with people who have actually DONE it is that he’s about 95% right.

    • The one person I know who left for Canada is back after a few years. She and her family liked the place (Vancouver) but apparently Canadians simply don’t like to hire Americans. Her husband couldn’t get a job, so they gave up and came back. Whereupon he began fending off offers from all kinds of top companies and now works in a very senior position with a company than many people reading this have done business with.

      I don’t know. What Otherwise says about the economy in general – materials-based, etc. – seems about right from what I know (although that’s hardly the whole story), but the idea that Canucks don’t like hiring Americans is one that sounded strange to me. Were I to contemplate moving north I’d need to do a lot of research.

  3. I have some good friends (a couple) who are Canadian. They’re academics and live in VA where they can get jobs – after having lived in NZ for awhile – where they could get jobs. And the guy is a scientist specializing in crop sciences! So, Canada is a tough go, methinks, economically, even for well educated Canadians.

    Still, they love home and miss it all the time. As would many American ex-pats. People leave home, as my friends did, because there is no life for them there doing work they love. That’s why people leave home. Any other explanation is kind of what my granddad used to call “big talk.”

  4. Toronto is booming, huge tech and financial sector. Just outside the city manufacturing is huge. My current and past employers hired a ton of Canadian people who choose to commute every day rather then live in the states. As far as the weather, it’s a non issue with most Canadians, people will bitch about the weather no matter what. When I lived in TN I rarely saw anyone running biking or doing much outside from April until October. I’d rather have a few cold months out of the year so I can enjoy spring, summer, and fall. As far as Canada not hiring US workers, I’m sure that’s a legit complaint, fair or not, most Canadians laugh at our education system. I’ve traveled to most of the provinces and spent some time in most of the major cities, and they are all wonderful. I still need to check out Ottawa though, I guess their park system is amazing.

  5. Darrell.
    First I apologize. The post wasn’t about Canada, it was about Americans who think that Canada is like their parent’s basement–they can just show up whenever they please and stay as long as they like. I have written stuff criticizing Canada before, but I wasnt trying to this time.

    Second, I infer from your post that you’re encouraging Americans to move north. Good for you. That’s an open-minded viewpoint I haven’t often heard from Canadians.

  6. I’m not Canadian, but I live close and I understand hockey Tim Hortons, and the Tragically Hip. The only negative thing I can say about Canadians is that they shop at our Malls, good for the economy, bad for my road rage. If you haven’t heard open minded viewpoints from Canadian’s then you’re talking to the wrong people.

    • D (and others, because I’ve been hearing about this one via e-mail and FB today): Note, this post really isn’t about Canada. It’s ironic that a post slapping Americans around has somehow gotten bogged down in defending Canadians.

  7. I think what’s more ironic is that the author was making fun of liberals for not knowing about Canada then he goes on to try and prove his point without presenting much more then hearsay, and stereotypes proving that he actually doesn’t know much more then those people who say they are moving. I didn’t take this post as Anti-Canada.

  8. Not true. I’ve lived outside the U.S. in three countries. I’ve spent a lot of time in Canada, for pleasure and work. I actually understand the ex-pat situation and Canada pretty well. Not sure how you think you know all I know from reading part of what I know, but thanks for commenting.

  9. Wow. Well, I live in Canada and know lots of folks living and working here who are originally American, or who have family members who came here from the States. Having said that, all countries have varying degrees of protectionist policy for varying reasons, and maybe ‘the liberals’ should realize there are people from many other countries also looking to live and work in Canada’s diverse economy (and of course in the States too for that matter). So yeah, there’s been a line-up at the Citizenship and Immigration Office for a while.

    Otherwise: very sorry to hear your comment re: “That’s an open-minded viewpoint I haven’t often heard from Canadians.” Come on up and I’ll introduce you to some way cooler people. 🙂

    Good luck with those Tea Partiers! Sounds like your country needs ‘yous’ (Canadianism, heh) to bring some sense back into the discourse. Doesn’t seem like an easy task….

  10. Sue

    Delightful comment. I used to be director of international for a major US based MNC, and so I’ve lived and worked in about 40 countries, including spending a lot of time in Canada, and it is a fine country. But most Canadians I know are a little leery of too much America, if nothing else because of relative size. Canadians may like Americans, but they don’t want to wake up and find 50 million have moved in next door.

    My Canadian story. I was once at a dinner with a very nationalistic and somewhat anti-American Canadian. Sensing the opportunity to be a jerk, I started going on about the problems countries faced with cultural domination, when two countries share a common porous border and one is bombarded with the culture of another. Before too long, she was nodding so hard she looked like a bobblehead boxer in the back window of a Chevy, so naturally my next line was, “Take the U.S. and Canada. U.S. comedy has been decimated by Canadian imports–Ackroyd, Miers, Carey, etc, etc. We have no comedy industry because they can’t compete with Canadians, who are subsidized by their government.” I thought I was very clever, but she didn’t think so. It was a formal, black tie dinner, and she took her plate and cutlery and left the table.

    I am lucky I’m not on a list somewhere. 🙂



  11. Ha, well, i actually did it but the requirements to stay legally were onerous and getting married didn’t sound like that much fun so i left Canada for Korea.

    I like Canada, having grown up basically on the border and spent a lot of time there as a youth. I still like Canada and Canadians, enough so that i would prefer Michigan secede from the US and join Canada. However, it’s not the “liberal US” that so many think it is, and those are the people Otherwise is making fun of here. Like every other country, it’s got its ignorant fucks.

    And as an aside, Canadians are the only people worse than Americans to deal with outside their home country. The maple leaf tattoos, the overwhelming amount of Canada swag that they feel it necessary to travel with, etc. I get it, nobody wants to be mistaken for being American but it becomes just a variation on the American nationalism abroad that’s so annoying about Americans.