I was not that surprised when I first heard an American Hillary Clinton supporter saying she will move to Canada if Donald Trump is elected. She admired Canada’s universal health insurance system, while she considered U.S. foreign policy to be extremely aggressive. Besides, I had previously heard Canadians joke that they are the ones who will be needing a wall on their borders to control the flow of American immigrants that would be triggered in the case of the election of the Republican candidate as president of the United States.
But I was rather surprised when two Trump supporters also stated they will be moving to Canada if Hillary Clinton is elected. The fact that another country appears as a solution to both sides shows, of course, the extent of the mistrust that exists between them. But the fact that Canada is accepted by the voters of both battling sides also highlights its “friendly neighbor” image, less accomplished perhaps, but for that same reason also beloved; a kind of alter ego for the Americans, or what they could have been were they not the most powerful country in the world.
Firstly, they would be slower. When disembarking a Canadian aircraft, you can expect it to take twice the time compared to an American aircraft. In Canada, one can take his time, without the ‘psychological pressure’ of those who are rushing. Things move more slowly compared to the Americans; from service in restaurants to highway speed limits to the job market. Work competition is tamer, work schedules more reasonable and the work pace more relaxed. In the context of a country trying to not leave anyone behind, slower speeds may be an expected consequence; any loss in productivity is considered a small price to pay for social cohesion.
Secondly, they would be more polite. Canadians seem to be taking part in a constant competition about manners. No matter how polite you are, there will always be one who is more polite than you. You opened the door for me? I will open the next one for you. You said a good word? I will return the gesture and then some. And, naturally, good manners are never misunderstood; the worst case scenario is some New Yorker making fun of their excessive politeness. But it seems that even Americans can overlook those “shortcomings,” since both countries share common interests: their love for beer and the relaxed sense of dress, the common baseball, basketball and hockey championships, as well as the same pop stars – an impressive proportion of whom are Canadian.
Of course both share important differences in their national and foreign policies, as well as a different recipe for shaping their national consciousness. The country that came up with the idea of the U.N. Blue Helmets uses its military mainly for peace missions, and the discussion in Canada today is about whether it should be limited to keeping the peace or whether it can also play a part in “creating” it. Internally, having solved most problems, the political discussion revolves around details and symbolism, while even controversial issues are discussed without any outbursts. As for the integration of immigrants, Canada’s approach does not aim for an Americanized uniformity, but rather a multicultural society. The candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party, who recently suggested checking immigrants for “anti-Canadian” values, has caused reactions even within his own party.
The “good guys” of the North might be considered very polite, even boring, but they constitute a solution for a greater number of Americans than one would expect; something which means that apart from their individual disagreements, they can all recognize a successful model when they see one …and even that there may be hope of going beyond the divisive climate of these U.S. elections.