Oh, Canada

1995? Of course. 1980? Yes, even that. I’m old enough to remember both Quebec independence referendums–both so far, that is–and I especially remember how close the Oui vote came to carrying the day in 1995.

The continued presence/participation-in-Canada of la belle province isn’t a certainty, but today’s will-they-stay-or-will-they-go dance isn’t about Quebec: It’s about new players with concerns more practical than cultural. Here’s Matt Gurney, talking about people-with-money starting to edge out of Canada as a contingency plan for business conditions getting worse and government services getting worse than that.

They aren’t leaving, at least not most of them. So no stat is going to note their outright departure. They remain residents. They still operate Canadian businesses and pay taxes, too, so the CRA won’t notice any missing filings. But increasingly, they do less here, and pay less here, because they’re planning for a life — professional and personal — beyond Canada. They’ll hold onto their house and let the kids stay in it when they’re south for the winter. They’ll fold their Canadian assets into various trusts and structures that instantly negate whatever Chrystia Freeland thinks she’s doing. They’ll buy condos in warmer climates and U.S. health insurance plans and begin treating Canada like a recreational property. A recreational country, I guess. Like a ski lodge, cottage or maybe a classy country club, but with a flag and a parliament.

It’s a great place to relax, for those with the money to have other options. See your friends and family. Spend time with the grandkids.

But the work? The real life? The business meetings and medical appointments? That’ll happen elsewhere, in places where it’s easier to make a living or see a doctor when that old mole starts changing shape.

Maybe the people-with-money will look for places where major cities repair potholes in the same season they occurred. Places where major cities don’t have to issue a boil-water order after a water-distribution pipe reaches the apparent end of its normal lifespan but not its in-service time. Places where your doctor retiring doesn’t mean you’re just out of luck for anything other than emergency medical care and where even that can be in question, when a call to 911 is met with instructions to do the best you can, help not being on the way.

Or maybe the factors won’t be entirely practical. Maybe the people-with-money will look for places where folks know that their country isn’t perfect, while recognizing that it’s still pretty fine compared to, you know, the actual alternatives. Places where folks are still committed to working with their neighbours to build something even better.

It’s been almost 30 years since Quebec had a formal referendum on their future in Canada’s, but I still remember my feeling of helplessness: The outcome mattered to me but I had no say in it. Similarly, today I can’t stop people-with-money from voting with that money, in the least case, or with their feet, in the worst. I can’t even say that they’re wrong: I don’t know what my choice would be if I had the welfare of employees or minor children to consider.

Feelings aside, though, I’m really not helpless. I can do more than just stay here because I have no fortune that would allow me to go elsewhere. I can vote for Canada by committing to building something better, and by being willing to work with others who may not be entirely like me. Will we agree on everything? Probably not. Will we even agree on exactly where we should be going? Maybe not. But if we’re lost, then at least we can be lost together.


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11 Responses to Oh, Canada

  1. Maybe the Canadian nay-sayers will swallow their neighs or brays in view of recent developments on the US stage. Don’t those ungrateful quadrupeds realize that we are staring down the potential for all-out war within and without our neighbour (puns intended) that will affect all of our lives enormously? Do they watch the American news? Do they understand (at the level of safe drinking water and repaired potholes) what the US Supreme Court’s reversal of the Chevron ruling means to administrative America? Do they pay attention to the insane and evil pronouncements of the felon who wants to regain office? Do they recognize the moral disintegration of the formerly respectable GOP? Do they not see the reflections of those social and political trends to similar worrisome trends in Canada? Peace, order, and good government. It’s going to seem like Paradise compared with what’s about to happen in the US. Let’s keep improving on what we’ve already got!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, I can agree with that. 🙂 Happy Canada Day!

    • barbara carlson says:

      With today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that stopped just short of full immunity for Trump (and any subsequent President/King), as an American/Canadian citizen I feel it’s pretty much over for my birth country. It took only 8 years. A very dark day. Grieving more than ever.

      Glad I am old; may I not to live to see the same thing happen to this wonderful country of Canada. I came here in 1966 for political reasons (Vietnam War) and grateful to Canada’s full welcome.

      Born during WWII (fighting Nazis and winning), I didn’t think I would end my days seeing authoritarianism/Project 2025 supported by so many Americans. But growing up in So. California where right-wing The John Birch Society was birthed & rampant, I am not surprised, just disappointed in the seemingly rapid de-evolution of progressive, humane & empathic values.

      • Barbara, I spent from Grade 7-12 in New York State, which thoroughly Americanized me. I pledged allegiance to the American flag hundreds of times during those years. My thinking and creativity and social values were shaped in one of the best educational systems in the US. After schooling and professional work in Canada for 14 years, I married an American and immigrated back to the US as an adult. Half our kids and relatives were American. After we returned to Canada, we visited back and forth as though no border existed. One of my nieces in the State Dept. appeared to be closing in on Sec’y of State had Hillary Clinton won the Presidency. Then, somehow, while we were preoccupied with serious illness and kid problems, the GOP, never our favourites, imploded into the Dark Side. With you, we have grieved the decay of democratic ideals across the country. The debacle of the Trump-Biden “debate” cut the cables on the elevator that was supposed to take Biden to the top again. The Supreme Court decisions last week that dismantle the massive expertise of government agencies by subjecting them to arbitration by know-nothing judges will undermine every aspect of daily life. Today, that unprecedented and unconstitutional leniency granted to the office of president undermines the rule of law. The arrogant justices on the Supreme Court have paved the way to anarchy, tyranny, and to civil and international war. I hope that Canadians watching (if they can only watch) these horrors will find object lessons against ultra conservatism here. Wherever and however we can find light in this darkness, may we tend that flame.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara & Laurna – I’m sorry you’re distressed about events in the USA. I’m glad you’re here.

        • barbara carlson says:

          I so hear you, and if we were together I think we would hold each other and cry. I have watched the arc of authoritarianism make its inexorable way across the darkening political sky and felt powerless. ..

          But for many years I had a social media platform (of millions of eyes) to post anti-extreme-right-wing messages (in reasonable tones always) on Fox Facebook & other like FBs. I have received vicious threats and lost American friends now in The Cult.

          I began posting in 2007 on Sarah Palin’s FB and was de-Friended (badge of honour, IMO) and watched, in real time, all the negative comments she received being deleted. I was trying to do my bit to bridge the silos of partisan news feeds, but now cannot see Fox News FB anymore due to Canadian laws.

          The SC Chevron decision is only one of the horrendous laws imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court so far. It is so partisan & corrupt I do not see any way forward to get justice. But deep breath. It’s not over yet.

          If you would like to talk further, my facebook URL is https://www.facebook.com/barbara.carlson.370
          and you can message me. 😀
          You are not alone.

          (BTW, my FB posts are most non-political.)

  2. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – there are so many things I could say, but they’d wouldn’t be political correct or “woke” enough for some, so I’ll hold my figurative tongue.

  3. Tom Watson says:

    I don’t think that many of us realize how fortunate we are to live in Canada. It’s not perfect, and I don’t like some of the trends, but, all in all, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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