As those of you who enjoy such quaint notions as weekends and holidays — tourists, in other words — frolic on this Labour Day weekend, I would like to labour for a moment to speak directly to my former countrymen: Americans.
Though I am no longer one of you, let me take this opportunity to say I feel your pain. I won't be so disingenuous as to say your pain is my pain — it's not — but a part of me is mentally if not legally tied to the political machinations taking place south of the border in this most unfortunate presidential year.
And while I'm allowing myself to grow more comfortable with the notion I'm probabilistically unlikely to ever have to choke out the words, "President Trump," it will be with a sense of relief, not joy, that I'll say, "Madam President." For I fall into that rather large and growing pool of people who recoil in fear and disgust at the notion of someone so shallow, so mentally and psychologically unfit for office as Donald Trump even getting to the point of being the nominee of what's left of the Republican Party yet so nauseated by Hillary Clinton I would, if I still could, vote for her knowing it would leave a faint taste of bile in my mouth.
But I digress.
The point of this, assuming there is one, is to lend my knowledge of Canada, socialist paradise that it is, to anyone fearing the election of either candidate and still musing about moving to the Great White North when their candidate craters on Nov. 8. For quite some time over the spring and summer, those who couldn't abide the thought of a Trump presidency idly Googled, "How to immigrate to Canada," like so many modern-day draft dodgers. And, horrors, I've even read now about a number of Trump supporters and old-guard Republicans are thinking Vancouver may be just their kind of town when Hillary is sworn in.
My bona fides, should you really care, for doling out advice to Americans thinking of running away to Canada is this: I too was born in the home of the brave, land of the free. Lived there for 28 years before following lust north of the border. I thought I might stay a bit longer than planned when St. Reagan was elected president in 1980 and here we are, all these years later and I Am Canadian. In fact, I am at this advanced age so Canadian I am no longer American, having as graciously as possible returned my citizenship. Take no offence; it's me, not you.
So regardless of your reason, if you're thinking of removing yourself to the frozen wasteland you all suspect Canada is, I'd just like to say this: Don't.
Oh sure, Canadians speak English, as a rule. They speak more French in Quebec, but you're probably not thinking of going there unless you also speak French... which you probably don't. But even if you do, it's a different kind of French. Visit before you jump if you don't believe me.
Other than speaking English, Canada is just like the U.S., in the following ways:
That's right. In virtually no way. Different country, dudes. So if you're thinking, "Hey, I can always go to Canada," think again. I won't even bother explaining the immigration process. That alone will either convince you to drop the whole silly idea or wash up along the shoreline somewhere with no identification and an apparent case of amnesia.
But here are some of the more fundamental ways Canada is not the U.S. For starters, we prefer to say, "The U.S." America is not your name. To usurp it is both jingoistic and self-centred.
Canada is not a melting pot. That's your shtick. Whenever we've tried that — think aboriginal boarding schools — it hasn't worked out well. Canada is multicultural. We try to let folks from other countries immigrate here and more or less keep their own cultural identity. It isn't always easy but fewer people in the world hate us for it.
Several decades ago, Canada succumbed to the communist plot you like to believe constitutes the metric system. We have kilometres, not miles; litres, not gallons; Celsius, not Fahrenheit; metres, not yards, kilograms, not pounds. Any scientist will tell you — assuming you believe in science — it makes more sense, notwithstanding that whole litres per 100 kilometres thing to measure what is still called gas mileage since gas kilometrege just sounds too weird.
Canada does not have free healthcare. I'm sure you've heard we do. T'ain't true. We have single-payer healthcare for which we — at least in British Columbia — pay, either personally or as a benefit of employment. Everybody's in; there is no opting out. The price is reasonable and the care is reasonable, as long as you believe the word reasonable can be tortured to include the occasional obscene wait time for elective procedures like hip replacements.
Americans — yes, we call them that even though we prefer not to call the country America, consistency being the hobgoblin of small minds — believe single-payer healthcare is socialism. Well, yeah, I guess it is. Americans believe such a system leads to government-run Death Panels. It doesn't. That weird system you have leads to: (a) obscene profits for health insurance companies; (b) a whole lot of folks who aren't covered; and (c) death panels run by HMOs and heartless insurers, although you're loath to admit it.
Canada enjoys very few gun deaths. That is a natural adjunct to Canadians owning very few guns. If you can't get over that Second Amendment thing, take cover and stay where you are.
Uninsured motorist insurance pretty much doesn't exist here. Virtually no motorist is uninsured. Provincial insurance companies — yes, more government — take care of that. If you have a car and it's licensed, you're insured. The cost is built in. You don't have a choice.
At a very basic level — and I'll admit it took me a long time to get my mind around this — personal liberty, of the Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death variety, ain't a really big concept up here. We're more of a collective. We've given up things that would make your hair stand on end, op. cit., gun ownership, private healthcare, driving uninsured cars, because it's the Right Thing to Do. It benefits everybody to deny individuals the liberty of acting like self-centred arseholes. We pretty much leave that fundamental right to our elected politicians.
So enjoy your Labour Day, have a good time in Whistler, spend a lot of money — after all, things are sooo cheap here when you're paying with Yankee greenbacks — and then go home knowing it's where you really want to be, regardless of who becomes president.
Move to Canada? Naw, you wouldn't like it.