A View from the Hill: Oh, Canada

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Recently people have been telling me that if they could they would move to Canada to escape the utter chaos and insanity the U.S. is experiencing now.

I was going to write about that chaos and insanity but the first paragraph came out like this:

“I’m sorry, I can’t escape this feeling that we are hurtling toward some calamity at breakneck speed but we can’t give that calamity a name.”

That seemed just a smidge heavy, so I decided to spare you.

So Canada. One friend said he’d head straight to Nova Scotia and rattled off the prices of property he’d seen. Someone else was headed much farther north, Hudson Bay maybe, on the theory that by the time the devastation of global warming reaches those latitudes he’d be winding up his time on earth.

And they are not the only ones. In a survey of more than 6,600 U.S. adults, the research group YouGov found that “roughly a third (31 percent) of Americans say they are somewhat or strongly interested in making the northward move if the candidate they intend to vote for isn’t elected.”

Not surprisingly, Democrats are far more likely to be the ones keeping an eye on Canadian real estate.

Of course, none of this can happen because Canada is not interested in having Americans cross the border. Even without the pandemic, why would they? We’d gone bonkers long before we’d ever heard about COVID-19.

In fact, Canada does not want any foreign nationals on its soil, at least until Sept. 30, when it will reevaluate the situation. But Americans are banned at least until Oct. 21, when there is no chance in hell that it won’t be extended, according to me.

This ban has been particularly hard this summer on the many Americans who have seasonal homes in Canada, like my brother. This year he was unable to visit his home on the St. Mary’s River in Ontario due to the ban.

Of course, he gets that this is not a problem that is going to elicit much sympathy right now.

But he did recently send me a newspaper essay written by a woman in Connecticut and published in The Globe and Mail of Toronto. She was lamenting her lost summer (although she agrees with the closure). But what she really wants is to become a Canadian.

“I’m what they call a wannabe,” she wrote. “I wannabe a Canadian. I’ve always wanted to be a Canadian.”

So what does she love so much about our neighbors to the north?

She loves singing “O Canada” on Canada Day. She loves the Canadian “vibe,” though that’s not a word I would use in any sentence containing “Canada.” She thinks they are more “physically reserved, more self-effacing, more hygienic and neater in appearance than Americans.”

And she likes them because “no one seems to be in a particular hurry.” Except to keep Americans out.

That was all fine until she shot a broadside at Maine: “The inlets and bays of the Maritimes are way more beautiful than the coast of Maine.” Like the coast of Connecticut is anything to write home about.

But she did get me thinking. I can’t move to Canada because I have so much family here. And I love Maine. And, as the old slogan about tough love goes, right now I love the United States, but I don’t like it.

So here’s an idea: Bring Canada to Maine. We would make an excellent fit. Well, most of us would. We could simply secede.

Or not so simply. Texas tried and failed, as the brilliant Washington Post columnist Philip Bump pointed out. The Constitution allows a way in, but no way out.

Bump offered another option. Withdraw by force, which is just the scenario that screenwriter Dan Turkewitz posed to Justice Antonin Scalia in 2006: Could Maine seceding from the country make a credible plot?

No, Scalia said. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

OK, but Bump offers another option: Await the collapse of the American experiment. “It’s very possible,” he writes, “that the United States will at some point, cease to exist.”

Uh oh.

Which brings me back to my other column idea: “I can’t escape this feeling that we are hurtling toward some calamity at breakneck speed …”

Andrew Marsters is an award-winning journalist and former journalism instructor at the University of New Hampshire. He lives on Munjoy Hill.

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