Bill Owens: Moving To Canada, Eh?

Jun 21, 2016


Let me start by saying to those of you who have dual citizenship, please take note!  We are jealous.

The first thought that came to mind in our current election climate when we talk about U.S./Canada relationships is, of course, the threat to build a wall along the Canadian border as proposed by Scott Walker, and hinted at by Donald Trump.  The second thought was, will Ted Cruz move back to Canada, although that may be difficult since he renounced his Canadian citizenship.  Maybe Ted is Loonie after all.

For those of us who live adjacent to the 3,987 mile U.S./Canada border, excluding Alaska, we consider the border “open”.  I choose the word “open” because we have no fences but plenty of technology deployed for detection of incursions.  For those of us who have Canadian heritage, my grandmother was born in St. Jean Quebec, I rue the day that my father failed to take advantage of securing his own dual citizenship which might have opened the door for me to become a dual citizen. 

The relationship between the United States and Canada is truly a unique one.  As I said we have thousands of miles of essentially open border, have not had a war for well over 200 years, and we have very few disputes that are not resolved on practical terms in a civil manner.  We have had a few disappointments along the way. The current issues regarding soft wood lumber and the Keystone pipeline have certainly created frustration, but by and large, this is a uniquely positive relationship.  The Canadians have been our strong allies beginning in World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and various Mideast conflicts.  They have stood next to us, and supported our military and our foreign policy.  We are one another’s largest trading partners, and we have established unique relationships that exist with no other two countries when it comes to trade.  NAFTA is one example, but more important examples are the Beyond the Border Agreement and the Regulatory Cooperation Council, which go well beyond the legal terms of NAFTA and are intended to develop more seamless trade and a more secure border.  Recently, we have entered into a Preclearance Agreement, while it requires the enactment of legislation in both countries, there is serious work being done to accomplish that goal.  All this goes to making our combined security and economies stronger. 

So why would I suggest moving to Canada?  It is more a reaction to the YouTube video showing a Canadian building a wall to keep us out, and in many presentations that I have made over the past six months in Canada, to groups large and small, the idea of US politics, and in particular the election of Mr. Trump, is truly unsettling, unnerving and appears that we have stepped off the edge to our Canadian friends.  Dozens have said so.

If you are thinking about immigrating to Canada, I am not sure the election of Donald Trump would qualify you for political asylum, but maybe it is worth a try.  If you have skill sets that Canadians need, that might work.  If you are willing to invest substantial sums in Canada, that might work too.

I am not suggesting that any Americans seriously consider moving, but the thought provides a little bit of comic relief as we trumpet in the Presidential election.

Mr. Owens is a former member of Congress representing the New York 21st and a Senior Advisor to Dentons.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.