Canada’s governing Liberals were reportedly caught off guard by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Super PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s decisive victory in yesterday’s American presidential election, and so was Canada's national currency, the loonie.
Despite the surprise, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau soon sent out a congratulatory statement, seemingly unruffled as ever.
Trudeau wrote that he anticipates “working very closely with President-elect Trump” in the future “including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security.”
Some in the United States were apparently keener to work with Trudeau — on getting them to Canada.
There’s no doubt the internet is trending towards the land of the beaver. There’s been a 58% increase in Americans searching for jobs in Canada since last year alone, and Canada’s immigration website crashed on election night.
The phenomenon isn’t new, either. Some months ago a semi-tongue-in-cheek website was set up called “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins,” inviting those of all political stripes (even Trump supporters) to come experience Nova Scotia’s stunningly beautiful, but economically-struggling Cape Breton island.
That said, those considering a trek to the Great White North may want to consider a few things:
- Canada’s winters are either like a scene from the Wall in Game of Thrones out east and in the Prairies or rainier than pre-launch Noah’s Ark on the west coast.
- Canada is geographically large, like the United States, but it has far less people, and you can drive or fly for hours between cities, making it sometimes feel a tiny bit empty outside of urban centers.
- English will get you far, except for Quebec where parts of the province outside of Montreal speak only French.
- Canada has a diversity of opinion; not everyone here is liberal.
- If you bump into someone and they say “sorry” take it in stride. Canada has its own customs declarations and they aren't just at the border.
Among those seeking to potentially leave a Trump-run United States are a number of celebrities. How many will follow through and complete Canada’s immigration process or come to Canada temporarily for a few photo opportunities remains to be seen, and how many Americans might be glad to see them go remains another open question. One friend of mine in New Jersey expressed great excitement at the prospect of Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer leaving the country.
Michael Moore hasn’t announced plans to move to Canada, but I doubt many would be surprised.
Many Canadians, who lean to being more centrist or left wing, reacted to Trump’s win with fairly predictable shock and disapproval, although certainly not in all cases or among the more conservative areas of the country such as Alberta and rural parts of various provinces. The Toronto Sun’s Anthony Furey wrote that Trump’s win “wiped the smirk off everyone’s faces.”
Here on the west coast of Canada various friends and family reacted with a range of emotions, from sadness and disgust to giddiness and joy. Some see Trump as a potential agent of positive change and renewal, the majority regard him as a comical but scary figure who has no place being in the driver's seat of the presidency.
Going forward things are up in the air in terms of the Canada-U.S. relationship, just as forecasts of what exactly Trump will do in his future presidency and who he’ll appoint to key positions are unknowns. One item that both Trudeau and Trump seem to agree on, which could potentially be completed is the Keystone XL pipeline, although Trump wants a big cut of any profits. If Canada and the U.S. managed to solve the never-ending softwood lumber dispute it would be a modern-day miracle.
Trudeau’s desire to stick to carbon emission reduction goals agreed to in Paris will be met by Trump’s plan to focus on traditional energy sources like coal and remove America out of the Paris Agreement. Trudeau’s fondness for free trade, sustainable development is contrasted with Trump’s plan to get rid of NAFTA and possibly pursue “home field advantage” style legislation to boost American industry and production.
Canada would be irked to see less space for its exports in the US. Scrapping NAFTA would be complicated and costly, but Canada wouldn’t rule out that Trump could do it. Still, Canada imports a lot of stuff from its southern neighbor as well, and it figures that that will count for something when Trump takes out the free trade scorecard and starts reckoning on how to interact with his hockey-playing northern friends.
Trump wants NATO members to pay their fair share (as does President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Obama gives fiery speech for McAuliffe: 'Don't sit this one out' Obama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe MORE); Canada currently contributes among the lowest proportional amount of any member nation to the alliance. Canada’s 30,000 refugees taken in this past year including from Syria and around the Middle East may well become a greater point of tension as our shared border comes into focus as well.
Trump, relatively speaking, has directed little criticism to Canada, particularly compared to places like Mexico, although he did comment during the Oct. 9 debate that he considers Canada’s socialized healthcare system “catastrophic.” This seems quite the thing to say, when one compares Canada’s system with the American system, but it is true a number of Canadians travel to the US for superior, more-costly care for certain operations.
Will we be inundated with Hollywood hedonists, and will America experience a brain-drain of citizens looking to relocate north? The last time Americans really hiked for the snow-capped hills in a concerted way was 2004, when George W. Bush won re-election. But even then it was quite a modest migration spike.
Time will tell, but until then have a listen to Trudeau's recent speech at the UN General Assembly. Can you imagine a bilateral address between he and Trump? Maybe opposites will attract, but maybe not. Interesting times are ahead, friends (on either side of the border).