Disenchanted U.S. voters look with longing eyes to...
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Feb 20, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Disenchanted U.S. voters look with longing eyes to Canada, but few follow through

Elections sometimes prompt exasperation, but …


During every American election a familiar refrain echoes across the United States, “That’s it, I’m moving to Canada.”

Disenchanted voters look with longing eyes to their northerly neighbour, but few have the fortitude to follow through.

For Laura Kaminker, the Canadian conversation had been going on with her family since she was a child.

“I grew up during Vietnam War and my parents always said if my brother was drafted they would move to Canada,” she said.

But it wasn’t until 2003 that she and her husband reached their breaking point.

“One day we were watching the latest outrage on the news and . . . I said ‘Oh God, when are we moving to Canada?’ ”

That simple sentence summed up years of exasperation for the couple who watched their country change before their eyes.

“We were tired of being so angry and frustrated and out of step for so long,” she said. “It got to the point where someone who is just an ordinary progressive is feeling like a radical revolutionary.”

As they worked their way through the immigration process, eventually moving to Mississauga, Kaminker started a blog to document their progress. It became a hub for other Americans struggling with the same dissatisfaction and continues to be a guide for those currently trying to navigate the complicated process.

“I think very few people who say they’re going, have any idea what it all involves,” said Lee Rowan, an author who moved from Ohio with her wife in 2007 and settled in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. “It’s complicated; you don’t just throw a bag in the car and drive north.”

Rowan’s father was a PoW during the Second World War, and the 63-year-old said watching American officials gloat about torturing prisoners during the Iraq War left her “horrified.”

Adding to the allure was the fact that three years earlier their home state had outlawed same-sex marriage; meanwhile Ontario was one of the first North American areas to make it legal.

“We were thinking, you know, this system is so screwed up there may be no hope left and we started really thinking about Canada, which seemed to be sane.”

It turns out that sentiment is pretty popular in the U.S., especially considering the candidates in the current election.

Digital analytics firm Lumioso looked at more than four million tweets that mentioned Republican hopeful Donald Trump.

The firm found 200,000 posts where people threatened to leave the country if the blowhard billionaire was elected president.

Similarly, the day after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 Reuters reported the number of people in America who visited Canada’s immigration website jumped from its daily average of 20,000 to 115,016.

But, despite surges in online popularity, the actual number of permanent U.S. residents who move to Canada has stayed steady between 8,000 and 9,000 per year since 2004.

“I think most people who say it don’t mean it,” said Rowan, but added that a better life is waiting for those brave enough to pull up stakes, especially same-sex couples.

“It was like letting out a breath of relief because things were normal,” she said.

As the election south of the border heats up, Kaminker said she just shakes her head at all the politics and posturing.

“We have a little expression in our home, ‘The circus is coming to town,’ ” she said. “That refers to the election cycle.”

Kaminker said she won’t ever return to the United States, but Rowan said there’s a slim chance she would move back — only if things there changed drastically.

In the meantime, they’ll hope for the best during the election and be ready to open their arms to other Americans in case of the worst.

“I think if one of those maniacs comes into power there will be a lot of people applying to come to Canada,” said Rowan.

Toronto Star

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