November 27, 2004


Before You Flee to Canada, Can We Talk? (Nora Jacobson, November 28, 2004, Washington Post)

I moved to Canada after the 2000 election. Although I did it mainly for career reasons -- I got a job whose description read as though it had been written precisely for my rather quirky background and interests -- at the time I found it gratifying to joke that I was leaving the United States because of George W. Bush. It felt fine to think of myself as someone who was actually going to make good on the standard election-year threat to leave the country. Also, I had spent years of my life feeling like I wasn't a typical American and wishing I could be Canadian. I wanted to live in a country that was not a superpower, a country I believe to have made the right choices about fairness, human rights and the social compact.

So I could certainly identify with the disappointed John Kerry supporters who started fantasizing about moving to Canada after Nov. 2. But after nearly four years as an American in the Great White North, I've learned it's not all beer and doughnuts. If you're thinking about coming to Canada, let me give you some advice: Don't.

Although I enjoy my work and have made good friends here, I've found life as an American expatriate in Canada difficult, frustrating and even painful in ways that have surprised me. As attractive as living here may be in theory, the reality's something else. For me, it's been one of almost daily confrontation with a powerful anti-Americanism that pervades many aspects of life. When I've mentioned this phenomenon to Canadian friends, they've furrowed their brows sympathetically and said, "Yes, Canadian anti-Americanism can be very subtle." My response is, there's nothing subtle about it.

They shouldn't let that stop them from leaving though, after all, they're anti-American too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 27, 2004 11:49 PM

Thanks to Trudeau & co., Canada made an effort to define itself by what it's not. As such, if you take away the anti-Americanism, you'd have nothing left but North Dakota or Michigan or upstate New York or Seattle or Alaska with funny accents, the Queen of England and the metric system.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 28, 2004 1:25 AM

A friend of mine literally walked away mid-conversation yesterday when she found out I liked George Bush. This was just after telling me that she thought I was a smart guy and wanted to read my new book.

It is not subtle. It is based on highly selective reading and a deeply perverted glory in irrelevance. As though the howling wheel bearing is somehow the good one.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 28, 2004 3:27 AM

Mark Steyn hit the Canadian mind-set right on the nose when he compared it with his neighbor with the Free Tibet bumpersticker. It hasn't resulted in one Free Tibetan but it has certainly made his neighbor feel better about himself.

Posted by: Bart at November 28, 2004 6:32 AM

A vocal progressive who foolishly took a bet with me on the presidential election seems determined to avoid paying up. I guess she has convinced herself she would be subsidizing evil.

This is a good article that hits the mark on both tone and substance (although complaining about Canadians celebrating hockey wins is a tad futile). Orrin gives us far too much credit by attributing a coherent philosophy to it all, but it is more whiny petulance and a very ignorant isolationism. I was talking with another Steyn-minded lawyer the other day about why, if we have so many good columnists trying to sound alarm bells, nobody can generate much of a popular reaction. The net and letters to editors show there are lots of dissenters, but it is like a heavy boomer smog covers the land and no one has the energy to start shovelling sludge. And Raoul is bang on about Trudeau, who seems to have reached deity-like status among the chattering classes despite having destroyed much and accomplished almost nothing.

Posted by: Peter B at November 28, 2004 6:50 AM


Got a link for your book?

Posted by: Peter B at November 28, 2004 7:00 AM

In other words, the author was "foragainst" Canada before she was "againstfor" it. Very nuanced.

Posted by: Moe from NC at November 28, 2004 8:52 AM

Peter (and anyone else who's interested, of course),

my website

direct link to the first half of the book. I am still touching up the last chapters and should be done in a couple of weeks.

If Shaw's webserver complains it can't find the page, just try again. They're balky.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 28, 2004 10:09 AM