Friday, May 20, 2011

Left Wing Canadians Flee South to More Progressive U.S.

No headlines like that?  Really?  I got asked in 2002 and interviewed in 2004 about whether Americans would run north to escape the Bush Administration.  It is only fair to ponder whether the Canadians who fear an empowered Harper majority government might flee south. 

Why are American newspapers and radio stations not pondering such a wave of left-immigration?  I can think of two reasons:
  • American media outlets simply do not care about Canada, so they have not noticed that a Harper majority government might be any different than the previous five or so years of a Harper minority government.
  • Americans may be arrogant and narcissistic, but not quite as smug.  The whole "Americans are fleeing north" mythology flowed nicely from myths Canadians tell each other to feel better about themselves and about living where it is really cold. Just like the mythologies about health care.   
Anyhow, I just wanted to point out the absence of such a theme in the post-election coverage.  Of course, there is plenty of hysteria here that we do not need to consider any below the border. 

Is this post produced by the post-traumatic stress bitterness of being rammed by a school bus?  Maybe.


Anonymous said...

The "Americans fleeing north" idea is actually something I hear more from Americans than Canadians, despite having been in Canada for the past four years or so. It's never really a serious plan, though. Every time the Democrats have a bad midterm or presidential election, I hear someone say the "I'm moving to Canada" line, but I've never seen anyone actually move to Canada solely for political reasons.

But I think another point worth taking into consideration is that the Canadian left tends to be more negative towards the U.S. than the Canadian right is (or than the American left is to Canada). There was a CPSA paper this year on cross-border attitudes that discusses this phenomenon. Add in the presence of the Republicans, who are to the right of all the major Canadian federal parties, and the U.S. doesn't look so attractive...

Bill Ayres said...

I think your first bullet captures a lot of the variance. If you were to poll journalists as major American media outlets, I think the modal (possibly majority) response would be, "Canada had an election? Really?" If you asked them to identify the Harper government as left- or right-leaning, I doubt more than a quarter of them could do so accurately - one of those "worse than flipping a coin" scenarios - because we tend to assume (probably because of that "socialized medicine" meme that Canadians are all left-wingers.

Now, if Harper starts wiretapping Canadians, that might be interesting...