Dear Americans: Welcome to Canada
Special to The Globe and Mail
Americans of the world, unite! In Canada. We have space still, and we want you.
Like you, we already take the tired, the poor and huddled masses of the world. Now we want your industrialists, your scientists, your men and women of letters. Give us your philanthropists, your musicians and your most brilliant students. We want them all.
I confess to no schadenfreude about the absurdity of some of your current political theatre. Instead, I, like most Canadians, remain a deep admirer of American civilization, American achievement and American chutzpah.
But it is manifestly in the Canadian interest to exploit this opportunity – ruthlessly, in proper American style – to pick off some of the world’s best talent in the service of the Canadian project and a Canadian 21st century. After all, modern Canada was created precisely as the antithesis of some of the more extreme U.S. passions and tendencies.
And what an extreme time this is in the United States. Whatever the current opinion polls, there are plenty of scenarios that could see Donald Trump become your next president. A terrorist attack on U.S. soil before the November elections – no one would wish this, of course, but it is far from impossible – would almost certainly seal the deal. Pogroms would ensue, so disproportionate has been anti-Muslim rhetoric and hysteria in your country over the past 15 years and particularly over the past year.
Canada currently accepts fewer than 10,000 American permanent residents per year, slightly more than from the United Kingdom or France. This is unacceptably low, especially given that we are your closest neighbours and that you integrate almost seamlessly into Canadian society. Many of your forebears were critical in building this great country, including major cities such as Toronto.
So why have so few of you, in relative terms, made the permanent move up north in recent years? Alas, the fault is largely ours. We have been too passive in our pitches and insufficiently imaginative and decisive in seizing the moment when it arises. We have, in some ways, been insufficiently American in wooing you. This must change.
What’s to be done? Consider this letter a call for the Canadian government to begin immediate, explicit and active communications about our sincere interest in having you immigrate to Canada – in considerably larger numbers. Our federal and provincial ministers should make this plain during their frequent working visits to your cities.
Most importantly, and this is unfortunately not a very Canadian way of doing business, our public and private leaders should be personally contacting you, by phone and even in person, regularly and relentlessly – especially those of you who are the leading lights of U.S. enterprise, culture and science – to make the case for moving to the Great White North.
Our top companies and universities should be working hand-in-hand with our governments to prepare targeted packages that would make your move to Canada irresistible and smooth at a time when your country’s politics are (to put it lightly) increasingly uncivil, and the future of your social peace increasingly unhappy. After all, this is exactly how the United States landed multiple future Nobel laureates from struggling countries over the course of the past century.
Toronto may be approaching capacity population, but much of the rest of Canada, especially in the Prairies and in the Atlantic provinces, is still a huge growth proposition and will profit greatly from your talents. You will be welcomed wherever you go. Bring with you your incorrigible optimism, your dreams, your risk taking, your lack of complexes and your macro thinking. Leave your guns at the border.
You may, at the last moment, be tempted to stay put and fight the good fight for a brighter American future. This temptation should be resisted. In exchange, we can assure you that, by all comparative appearances, you will be coming to live in the world’s best country.