In November 2004, David Drucker and his wife Pam were at home listening to NPR when they heard the news that would change their lives: George W Bush had been re-elected as president of the United States. In the lead-up to election day, the couple had made a pact: if John Kerry won, they would build their dream house in Vermont; if he lost, they would move to Canada. A year later, they were on their way to Vancouver to start their new lives.
“It’s been a little over a decade now. We have clear eyes about what we did. We have no intention of going back,” Drucker said. The Druckers were not alone. On election day in 2004, a record-setting 179,000 people visited Canada’s official immigration website, the majority of them Americans. And as anxieties about the outcome of 2016 begin to grow, some Americans are again musing about fleeing to their northern neighbor.
In September, the digital analytics firm Luminoso found about 4% of 4.5 million Donald Trump-related tweets contained threats to leave the country if the billionaire became president. Of those, 25,000 identified Canada as their intended destination. Since then, comedian and Obama “anger translator” Keegan-Michael Key has joined the chorus. Even former US defense secretary Robert Gates joked about emigrating if Trump took office.
Talking about relocating to Canada clearly is pretty trendy – actually relocating there, not so much. According to the Canadian government, the number of newUS immigrants arriving in the country has remained relatively stable – about 9,000 annually – from 2005 to 2014. It might not be the northern utopia of their dreams, but those who have made the move say they have never regretted it.
“If Americans want to live in a country where there is an investment in public education, where people aren’t afraid of going bankrupt because they get sick, and where democracy is taken seriously, they should move, because an alternative exists,” said Tom Kertes, 43, who moved from Seattle to Canada with his now husband Ron Braun in 2007.