Within minutes of Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Google searches for how to “move to Canada” spiked dramatically. Hotspots for the search included liberal bastions like Massachusetts, New York, California and Washington. But Trump supporters shouldn’t be overly joyful at the prospect of Democrats moving out – the swing states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania were also hotspots for the search.
Periodically, the temptation to flee the country becomes popular. During the 2016 campaign, various celebrities threatened to move out of the country if Donald Trump won. He won, but few if anyone in Hollywood actually moved to Canada or Spain.
There’s a lot to like north of the border. Beautiful scenery, wide open spaces, ice hockey, maple syrup and the Mounties.
Conservatives and libertarians understandably admire Canada. The country ranks higher than the US on the Heritage Foundation’s 2020 Index of Economic Freedom and the Freedom House political freedom index. Its GDP per capita ranks below the US and much of Europe, but is still in the top 20 globally.
And for really old school traditionalists, of course, Canada still has the Queen.
Liberals and progressives love Canada. Its nearly open border policy allows entry to immigrants and refugees from all over the world. Canadians enjoy a large social safety net. The country has a culture of inclusiveness and social justice and has no limitations whatsoever on abortion. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a progressive icon.
Far more Canadians move south each year than go north from the United States, though the number of Americans emigrating has grown in recent years.
And yet, my guess is that 2020 will not produce any immigration crisis on Canada’s southern border.
Environmentalists might not want to go to Canada. Sure, it is a signatory to the Paris climate accords, but it’s also one of the world’s leading exporters of oil and natural gas. Some of its largest industries include logging, mining, and building gas-guzzling automobiles and airplanes. It also has one of the world’s largest ocean fishing industries.
Progressives might have doubts about Trudeau’s Canada, as well. His early support for women’s rights was tarnished by internal scandals, and resurfaced photos of him in blackface hurt him more than similar photos of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. He welcomed Syrian refugees but has been decidedly less progressive (anti-Israeli) on Middle East policy. Moreover, he appears to be part of the political class, an elitist who earned his position because of his family name.
Conservatives also might have mixed feelings about moving to Canada. Its political culture has drifted decidedly to the left. Its Supreme Court has allowed doctor-assisted suicide and prostitution, and it barred a Christian university from founding a law school because of its traditional view of marriage. It operates on the assumption that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a living document, and freedom of speech is shrinking across the country.
Still, Canada is a great trading partner, a beautiful place to visit, an economic success story and full of friendly people.
But the main reason to stay right where you are is not political. Even in southern Ontario, the average high in January is just 21 degrees Fahrenheit. Baby, it’s cold outside!
Dr. Tom Copeland is a Professor of Politics at Colorado Christian University, and Director of Research for the Centennial Institute. The views expressed are his own and do not represent CCU or CI.