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    commentary | ty burr

    Looking to head to Canada? A few things to consider

    A Canadian flag waved on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
    AFP/Getty Images/file 2015
    A Canadian flag waved on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    So you’re thinking about bolting for the Great White North.

    Not really, you say? Just . . . exploring the idea? You and a gazillion others, apparently, enough to make the search-phrase “How to move to Canada” spike by 1,150 percent by midnight on Super Tuesday, according to Google. Perhaps not coincidentally, the server for the Canadian government’s immigration website crashed around the same time.

    Google’s data also showed that four of the five highest search rates came in states in which Donald Trump won a majority in the GOP primary: Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, and our own home state, Massachusetts. Fifteen years ago, in the panicky months following 9/11, many people created “boogie boxes” full of batteries, food staples, water, and medical supplies, in case an anthrax attack came down and they had to suddenly light out. Soon they may be making one to get out from under the Donald.


    The notion that an attention-craving faux celebrity might actually ascend to the most powerful position in the free world is enough to scare even sober-sided folks into considering a quick relocation to the one nation Trump might be willing to ignore (aside from his commercial properties, which may become combination embassy spas).

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    On the other side of our polarized discourse, there are those who’ve spent so many decades detesting Hillary Clinton that they can’t bear to be in the same country with her as president, let alone the same room. So they might move, too. The one question remaining is: Where do the Canadians go to get away from us?

    At one level, this seems like a horrible First World parody of the Syrian refugee crisis, one in which well-fed Americans voluntarily leave their homes to bum-rush the Canadian border because they can’t abide who they’re putting in power. But you have to admit the Canadians are trying to make it easier.

    A bill currently before the Parliament in Ottawa would reduce the residency time needed before applying for Canadian citizenship from four out of six years to three out of five. That way, if the devil of your choice looks to be gone before the next election cycle, you can move back home. If we’ll have you, that is.

    Understand that fleeing the results of our democratic process, no matter how flawed or corrupted you believe it to be, means leaving some signal qualities of American life behind. It also means gaining some unexpected benefits. Here’s how the pick-up-and-leave sticks fall.


    What you lose by moving to Canada:

    Summer. Yes, winters in New England seem inordinately long, but consider that the warm season north of the 49th parallel lasts six weeks before they shut it down. Of course, climate change will probably alter that, so maybe it’s worth putting a down payment on that seaside cottage in the Rockies.

    The right to make fun of Rob Ford. You thought he’d gone away? Oh, no. The pride of Toronto, currently battling cancer, is still a city councilor and has indicated he plans another run for the city’s mayoral office in 2018. Think carefully as to which outsized egotist you want representing you — but be glad Ford’s thumb is nowhere near a nuclear button.

    The right to make fun of the Canadian accent. A few weeks of intensive study with an old videotape copy of the Bob and Doug McKenzie comedy “Strange Brew” (1983) should straighten you out.

    French fries. But the trade-off — poutine — is worth it.


    Gun massacres. According to the Congressional Research service, there were 317 mass shootings in the United States from 1999 to 2013. In Canada, during the same time period, there were five.

    Think carefully as to which outsized egotist you want representing you — but be glad Rob Ford’s thumb is not near a nuclear button.

    What you gain by moving to Canada:

    A hot prime minister. Justin Trudeau isn’t just young and attractive — he seems pleasant, intelligent, and downright sane. Why couldn’t they send him down here instead of Bieber? Speaking of which . . .

    The most obnoxious Canadian celebrities have moved to the United States. Maybe we can arrange a celebrity hostage repatriation program: America gets to keep Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Barenaked Ladies, and Seth Rogen while the hordes fleeing northward get to bring along Drake, Neil Young, Ryan Gosling, and Catherine O’Hara.

    Low-cost drugs. Unless Martin Shkreli moves there, too.

    Fake American film sets. Half of our country is already replicated on a sound stage in Toronto; maybe we can turn it into a nostalgic theme park.

    Creative highway signage. But you already knew that.

    A rational election season. By law, the Canadian cycle begins when the prime minister dissolves one five-year Parliament and ends when elections are held for the next. The longest duration, 11 weeks, was for the most recent cycle — and that had most Canadians spitting blood. The minimum length is 36 days. 36 days! Imagine it: only one month of the nonsense we’re currently enduring for years on end.

    Hold the bus, I’m getting on.

    Ty Burr can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @tyburr.