I am Canadian.
That’s not only an editorial disclosure, not just a statement of pride, but it’s actually an advertising tagline for a beer (see below). This might say a lot about us actually. If not, then I might add that we are even more patriotic about a donut shop. True story.
We can all agree that the year 2016 has been a crazy year so far–gun violence, terrorism, politics, politicians, primaries, referendums. Every time that something crazy happens, we have seen a huge spike in Google searches for “Move to Canada”. Last week, “Move to Canada” saw a dramatically huge spike in England following the Brexit vote as many on the “Stay” side were looking for options for the future. I suppose we might have a lot in common with Britain, so maybe Canada is the natural temptation for those wanting to move.
We saw a similar spike back for “Move to Canada” in the US, back in March after Trump won Super Tuesday for the Republican race, appearing as the presumptive nominee. Even back in 2004, there was a huge spike in “Move to Canada” on George Bush defeated John Kerry. I suppose Canada has always been the potential escape for American liberals.
While 2016 has been a crazy year for the world, it appears that the Canadian brand is on the rise. We have cool Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who is young (44), good-looking with modern liberal views, outspoken on his support for women, native Canadians and newly minted Syrian refugees. Imagine a politician in these times not only pushing for Syrian refugees, but he showed up at the airport to welcome them to Canada. Trudeau’s trip to Washington made the news, with a similar impact as how Prince William or Harry might generate. He had a tremendous impact on President Obama who referred to him as the most popular Canadian ever. Trudeau is making most of the top 100 most influential lists. Tourism Canada has caught on to Trudeau being one of their bigger assets to re-positioning Canada as modern, hip, cosmopolitan and accepting, hoping to attract tourists from around the world. Especially those Americans feeling disenfranchised by the current political climate in the US Presidential race. Recently, the Canadian visa website has been flooded with download requests.
Research shows that tourism is up 8.5% for Canada, and about 1 in 10 Americans have considered a vacation to Canada, although they have expressed concerns about potential cold weather and the perceived lack of urban sophistication. Both of these are misguided stereotypes. Just so everyone knows, Vancouver weather is identical to Seattle (both rarely ever get snow) and Toronto is just like Chicago or Boston (a mix of snow in winter and heat in the summer). As for urban sophistication, Canada has a very urban population (80% of Canadians live in urban areas), and Toronto is the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America. Those who visit talk about how clean Canada is, how safe they feel and how friendly the people are. Many of the Canadian cities are consistently rated as some of the best cities in the world. We have some of the greatest natural beauties in the world, with the Rockies of the West or Newfoundland of the East.
Aside from hockey, beer and donuts, what does the Canadian brand have to offer?
If you do move to Canada, there are lots of things that you will need to adjust to. We have higher speed limits but the cars go just as fast. Most things that you hear about that “will never work” are actually working here in Canada. Here is my guide to moving to Canada.
- It’s not as cold as you think. It seems every time I’m hosting American friends in the winter, all of a sudden the weather turns cold as hell. This year’s NBA All Star game didn’t help. But the reality is that we are about as cold as Chicago or New York. (Average high in January is 33F for Toronto, 32F in Chicago and 35F in New York). We do take a bit of pride in our ability to deal with cold weather, but we do complain when it gets really cold. If the cold gets to you, then go to Vancouver where you can experience mid 40s and 50s in January. In the summer, our temperatures are 70s, 80s and even 90s. Now, what may confuse you is we talk about our weather in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Canada only went to metric back in the 1970s because the US was moving to metric. Go figure.
- We are fairly liberal. In fact, our Liberal party is considered the moderate party in the middle. We have very strict gun control. The only guns I have ever touched in my life were either in a museum or a game of laser tag. We have free healthcare, which is fairly good, if you don’t mind a little wait time. Our University tuition is relatively affordable. I now have two kids in University and the combined tuition is $18,000 (Canadian) for the two kids (or $14K in USD). No matter what University you choose, the tuition is pretty much the same. Same sex marriage has been the law for over a decade. Our immigration policies are a source of pride for many Canadians. And a necessity for our growth.
- We get the exact same entertainment as the US. No one really watches Canadian television. Plus many of “your” stars are Canadian (Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Seth Rogen, Mike Meyers, Drake, Justin Bieber). The good news is there is no such thing as Canadian food, aside from Poutine and Beaver Tails, but those are fairly safe if you like french fries and lots of sugar.
- Our money is cute. Yes every bill is a different color, red, purple, green or blue. And, it takes me a few minutes explain that we don’t have a $1 bill and that we have a $1 coin that everyone just calls a “Loonie”. Most think I’m being sarcastic when I say it’s a “Loonie”, but refuse to believe me when I try to convince them that we call the $2 coin a “Two-nie”. But it’s true. Also, our milk comes in bags. It would take me forever to explain that one. And I’m still not joking.
- We are huge sports fans: On a cold winter morning, many Canadian parents are waking up at 530am and taking their kids to hockey practice. I know I did that many times. “Hockey Parents” is an actually term here. Over 27 million Canadians watched the gold medal Olympic hockey final (90% of our population) whereas only one-third of Americans watch the Super Bowl. With last year’s Blue Jays in the playoffs, 12 million people watched (1/3 of our population) about the same number of total viewers as the entire US, which has 10 times the population and it’s your sport not ours. At Christmas time, about 5-6 million Canadians watch the “World Juniors” which is an annual tournament for teenagers.
- Canadians are polite, but no nicer. I always giggle when people say “Canadians are so nice”, because I know it’s more linked to being polite and well-mannered. Be careful, because we are not nicer than anyone else.
- Happy Canada Day! There was no war of independence here. July 1st is the day we chose to recognize our independence. No shots fired. Just diplomacy. While we officially became a country in 1867, it took another 100 years for us get the Canadian flag and 120+ years for us to get our constitution. But don’t go quoting the Constitution, because no one here really knows what it says. If you do decide to go for your Canadian citizenship, you should know that the Queen is still our head of state. Just because we took our time to become a country, don’t underestimate our Canadian patriotism.
Happy Canada Day!!!
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