Or is there? Like Nova Scotia, where a journalist based in Halifax writes in the Times, “I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan.”
Back in 2004 ( you remember 2004, when all we had to worry about was George W. Bush’s reelection?) I attended the quadrennial Presidential election party at the home of one of our dearest friends. Concerned about how the election would turn out, I brought with me a few dozen copies of the lyrics to “O Canada,” so in the event of a Bush win the mostly Democratic crowd could begin getting ready for the mass migration to “The Great White North.”
Alas, we didn’t leave, we weathered through another four years of Bush incompetence, the Great Recession and, finally, the ascension to the presidency of Barack Obama. As it turned out, the moving itch receded and we spent the next eight years in relative American bliss.
And then came the 2016 Presidential election.
As the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency might, just might happen, Canada opened it’s arms to Americans who could not fathom living in a country in which Donald Trump was president.
How were those arms opened?
You probably don’t remember but in late 2016, a Cape Breton, Nova Scotia disc jockey began promoting “The Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins” website with the idea, “We are experiencing a bit of a population problem at the moment. We need people. We need you!”
The idea – to give dislocated, Trump-horrified Americans a place to move to. It was, the disc jockey thought, a win-win. Cape Breton gets the population influx it needs; Americans get to move to a place that is not ruled by Donald Trump.
As the disc jockey said at the time, “Every American election, you have a group of people — usually Democrats — who say, ‘That’s it, I’m moving to Canada’ if a Republican wins. So, he thought, “Hey, if you’re going to move to Canada, why not move to Cape Breton?”
Now, for perspective, Cape Breton is about twice as big as Delaware and has been working to rebuild its coal mining heyday with the tourism industry. What seems to have started as a joke morphed into a growing economy, thanks to those looking to escape either the 9 to 5 grind or a climate change-denying, immigrant-alienating, narcissistic, talking traffic cone hellbent on initiating the end of days.
Well, Trump won and we found, in reality, moving to Cape Breton, or anywhere in Canada, wasn’t that easy.
According to Andrew Griffith, a former director general of the citizenship and multiculturalism branch of Canada’s immigration department, “most of those suggesting they would leave because of Mr. Trump would not qualify as refugees and would have to go through a system that rates them based on factors such as education and job skills.
“Having a firm offer for a skilled job in Canada can make getting a visa a relatively fast process,” Mr. Griffith said. “But in general the process can be protracted, expensive and without guarantees.”
Summing it up, Mr. Griffith said, “It’s not an automatic process despite the Twitter posts saying ‘You’re all welcome here.’ Well, you’re not all welcome.”
So, why am I bringing this up now? Trump lost his reelection bid…or at least almost 80 million Americans believe he lost. And he’ll be gone on January 20…maybe. So why even worry about moving to Canada now. (Well, perhaps because another 74 million Americans voted for him. But that’s the subject for another column.)
Then why? Because of an Op-Ed in yesterday’s New York Times, “I Am Living in a Covid-Free World Just a Few Hundred Miles From Manhattan,” by journalist Stephanie Nolen.
Ms. Nolen writes, from her base in Halifax, Nova Scotia,
This morning, my children went to school — school, in an old brick building, where they lined up to go in the scuffed front doors. I went to work out at the gym, the real gym, where I huffed and puffed in a sweaty group class. And a few days ago, my partner and I hosted a dinner party, gathering eight friends around the dining room table for a boisterous night that went too late. Remember those?
Where I’m living, we gather without fear. Life is unfolding much as it did a year ago. This magical, virus-free world is just one long day’s drive away from the Empire State Building — in a parallel dimension called Nova Scotia.
This is one of the four Atlantic provinces that cling to the coast of Canada, north and east of Maine. In Canada, these are typically known as “have-not provinces,” economically depressed areas dependent on cash transfers from wealthier provinces to the West.
In the pandemic era, however, “have not” takes on new meaning.
“Have not” meaning, have not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic like the U.S. or even other Canadian provinces.
Why? Ms. Nolen talked to Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s public health chief, who told her,
“Public health officials, not politicians, set the policy here about what opens. And people (mostly) follow the rules on closures and gatherings and masks. The message has been that we need to do it to keep each other safe. I think there’s something about our culture, our collective ethic, if you will, that means people accept that.“