For Americans fed up with their political system and terrified of a Donald Trump presidency, threatening to move to Canada is practically a cliché. In the two days since Trump was elected, anxious Yankees crashed Canada’s immigration website, and are flooding my social media feeds with half-joking requests for asylum.
But as a Canadian living in the U.S., I have bad news for you. There’s no escape.
Down here, idealizing Canada is easy, with its universal healthcare, gun control, and universally adored woke bae-in-chief Justin Trudeau. The country is also geographically close, culturally familiar, and home to three of the world’s most livable cities. But all that goodness isn’t enough to save Canada—or fleeing Americans—from Trump.
Globally, his impact will be wide-ranging and far-reaching, but that’s doubly so in the Great White North. As its next-door neighbor, Canada is far too economically and culturally intertwined with America to remain the liberal utopia that so many Democrats (falsely) believe it to be.
Indeed, living in Canada will be a lot more like living in Trump’s America than you think.
Having been born and raised in Toronto, I’ve witnessed the creeping influence of U.S. culture and commerce.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, our government’s broadcast regulator, recently reduced quotas for Canadian content, making our airwaves more susceptible to American programming.
So if you think you can escape incessant media coverage of Trump by moving north, wrong again. U.S. news takes up a lot of space in Canadian media—something that will only worsen once Trump becomes president. His inflammatory rhetoric about black people, Mexicans, Muslims, people with disabilities, and more grabbed headlines in Canada and countries worldwide this election. Expect that to continue for the next four years.
Beyond a cultural takeover, Canada’s economic interests are also at stake under Trump, especially since America is its closest trading partner. The president-elect proposed to kill the North American Free Trade Agreement (aka “the worst trade deal in history”) if he couldn’t renegotiate it to his liking. If Trump follows through, tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico, as well as exports from the U.S., will rise. Around 2.5 million Canadian jobs that depend on U.S. trade would be at risk, and our GDP—23% of which comes from exports to America—would also suffer.
While it’s true that Trudeau is a self-proclaimed feminist and champion of diversity, Canada isn’t exactly a lefty paradise. In fact, one Canadian politician is taking a cue from Trump, aspiring to follow in his divisive footsteps. Kellie Leitch, who is vying to lead Canada’s Conservative Party, celebrated his win as “an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada, as well.” Canadian politics have historically been far less polarizing than those of America, but it seems Trump is emboldening far-right factions up north.
I know some Americans only joke about fleeing to Canada while Trump is in office, but for those who are serious, here’s some advice: Try somewhere more remote—say, Tristan da Cunha—where Trumpism can’t find you.
Anita Li is senior editor at Fusion, managing its Justice vertical, and founder of The Other Wave, a website dedicated to covering media from a multicultural perspective. Prior to that, Anita served as director of news at Complex. She has previously held reporting and editing positions at Mashable, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC and CTV, among other media outlets. In 2015, Anita gave a TEDx talk on the importance of diversity in journalism. She is based in New York City.