In the wake of FBI director James Comey’s Oct. 28 letter about newly discovered emails that may pertain to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, a Donald Trump presidency suddenly doesn’t seem so unlikely anymore. With less than a week to go until the election, there now seems to be the possibility that Trump, rising from the dead like a villain from a seventies slasher movie, might win the US national election yet.
This simple, terrifying thought has some very nervous Americans searching for ways to escape the country. Indeed, ever since Trump alarmed the nation during the Republican primaries by racking up seven wins on Super Tuesday, there has been a spike in Google searches for “how can I move to Canada.”
Americans love Canada, and why not? There’s free health care, no guns, and Justin Trudeau. Apart from these improvements, Canada is basically the same as the US, right?
Before you make plans to escape to the Great White North on Nov. 9, there are some important things you need to know about Canada.
Netflix has admitted that Canadians have access to only half the movie and television titles available to American subscribers. What’s worse, Netflix aggressively blocks the VPN services and web proxies Canadians have long used to access the wider variety of content available to Americans.
And it’s not just Netflix. From computers to cars, there is generally less consumer choice in Canada. Which leads us to another import point:
There’s no Target in Canada
Need we say more?
There aren’t a lot of jobs right now, either
Even if there was more consumer choice in Canada, if you move here, you may not have the cash to buy stuff anyway—because you might not have a job.
Canada’s unemployment rate is stuck at around 7% (compared to 4.9% in the US). Just as in the US, most of the good jobs in Canada can be found in just a few large cities, such as Toronto and Vancouver.
Vancouver, with its ocean, soaring mountains, and easy access to some of the best skiing in the world may sound like a great place to escape from Donald Trump. But there is one big problem: It’s really expensive. Relatively low wages, sky-high real estate prices, and a rental vacancy rate of close to 0% makes it tough to get a fresh start in Vancouver and many other major Canadian cities (unless you have the cash to reside in someplace like Vancouver’s Trump Tower).
Canada is going to be major carbon polluter for a long time
Recently tanking price of oil and the collapse of the commodities have contributed to the high unemployment in Canada. So this means Canada is doing everything it can, from pushing for more pipelines to giving the green light on polluting energy projects, in order to create jobs—something right out of Donald Trump’s economic playbook.
This means Canada, which already has among the highest per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions in the world, and which uses more energy than all of the 760 million inhabitants of Africa, will never seriously try to meet its emissions targets to combat climate change. Canada needs to wean itself off of oil, first.
When it comes to minorities, Canada has its own challenges
Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign has shone a spotlight on racism in the United States. Moving to Canada is no escape. The Toronto police practice racial profiling, while indigenous people make up a quarter of Canada’s prison population, despite being just 4.3% of the total Canadian population.
On the plus side, Canada has embarked on the long and painful process of reconciliation with indigenous people—something unimaginable in a country governed by Donald Trump. While textbooks in some parts of the United States are going backwards and glossing over topics such as slavery, Canadian children are now being taught about our country’s racist roots.
Canada sells weapons to human-rights abusers
One of the first things the Trudeau government did after being elected in October 2015 was approve the sale of armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. While the deal provides jobs for a struggling manufacturing town in Ontario, Saudi Arabia is leading a war against its neighbor Yemen that has so far left nearly 4,000 civilians dead. Armored personnel carriers also came in handy when the House of Saud decided to help crush neighboring Bahrain’s pro-democracy protests in 2011.
So by leaving America for Canada in November, you’ll have to live with being part of the military industrial complex.
But is Canada really that bad?
Compared to the United States, Canada has a lot going for it. We have ketchup-flavored potato chips, kelp-based beer, and a donut chain named after a hockey player. That’s enough entice anyone to move up here and escape Trump, isn’t it?
Of course, we Canadians love our single-payer public health care. While it’s not free, it covers everyone, so you’re not going to go bankrupt if you get hospitalized.
Canada is a haven from guns as well. Canada’s firearms-related homicide rate is seven times lower than that of the United States, and mass shootings are extremely rare. So that’s one big anxiety you can leave behind when you cross the border.
And there’s Trudeau. While he has been called out by some Canadians as a coldly calculating viral PM with more style than substance, Justin Trudeau’s “sunny ways” have changed the tone of Canadian politics. Just a year ago, Stephen Harper, Trudeau’s predecessor, was campaigning on banning the niqab. Harper lost the election, and the very next day, Trudeau was taking selfies with anyone and everyone in a subway station in Montreal.
So while Canada is no paradise, maybe it’s not such a bad country to run away to after all.