My dear American neighbours*,
Monster.com, a job search site, has seen a 50% spike in the number of you looking for jobs in Canada this year. There’s no wall to stop you, of course, because long before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we had a porous border and folks from both sides flowed like Great Lake waters back and forth. But as the Great Pumpkin rises in America, I’d like you who are considering jumping the 49th parallel to move from Tribeca to Toronto or Vero Beach to Vancouver to bear in mind a few things. You might not notice it right away, but we are different from you. For instance:
- We measure distances in kilometers. Your children will adapt but you will always be a foreigner with a funny accent who doesn’t know how far it is from Calgary to Edmonton.
- Our Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, PC, MP, is a feminist. Because it’s 2015. 2016. 2017. 2018…
- The Liberal colour is red – more of a dark pink really, like a maple leaf in the fall versus the colour of Newt Gingrich’s face when interviewed by Megyn Kelly – and not to be confused with Republican rouge.
- The Conservative Party of Canada’s colour is blue – like our open skies and our border and Bill Clinton’s ties – and not to be confused with the Democrat hue.
- The policies of our former Conservative Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, PC, MP, look more like those of Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. (Remember, blue in Canada is red in the United States.)
- Parlez-vous Français? We are an officially bilingual country – English and French – and while this isn’t an easy co-existence, it is embedded in our history, like “Peace, order, and good government”, the governing principle of our Constitution Act.
- Check your guns at the border. Like Marshall Dillon in Dodge City the law here requires that you leave your guns behind before you enter town.
- In your two preferred cities – Vancouver and Toronto – the average price of a detached home is more than $1.3 million. Even with the Canuck buck trading at 25% less than the Yankee dollar, can you really afford us?
- Taxes are high but our health care is free, part 2 of “Can you really afford us?”
- We welcome refugees. Canada resettled more than 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and March 2016. Maybe to some of you this is a reason for a northern wall. Or maybe this is the reason you are welcome, too.
- Same-sex marriage is legal in Canada. Period.
- Our cities are multicultural. This means our neighbourhoods are as well. On my street of 14 houses I have neighbours from Columbia, Mexico, Brazil, and Ethiopia. Our larger neighbourhood has the highest density Arabic speaking population in Ottawa. Within a two kilometre radius are a Hindu Temple, a Sunni Mosque, and a Buddhist Temple, as well as the usual assortment of Catholic and Protestant churches. If Canada was a candy we’d be Licorice Allsorts.
I love my country because of and despite some of these things. You are welcome to make my home and native land yours, too, but you should know these things before you come north. I hope things work out for you at home and that you don’t feel you have to leave. In fact, I hope you’ll stay at home and work out your differences somehow. Somehow fix the compass needle that is spinning wildly in all directions.
I like you. I really do, but right now you scare me and although your election is none of my business, it is all of my concern. I am your neighbour and as Trudeau the first
(Justin’s father) said “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” Right now the beast does not seem at all friendly and far from even-tempered and a twitch over a nuclear code would be a catastrophe. And quite frankly, I’m not sleeping anymore because my neighbour, the elephant, looks like he’s going rogue.
*PS: We spell different, too.