More Americans researched how to “move to Canada” after the re-election of U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday than at any other time since President George W. Bush won a second White House term in 2004.
The sudden spike in search-engine traffic for the phrase -- and the related phrase “moving to Canada” -- is evident in the accompanying graphic, which shows interest in the topic as measured by the search engine Google. The spike has been driven by Web users in more or less conservative states such as Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, as well as in liberal urban outposts in California and Illinois.
Saying they will “move to Canada” whenever their preferred presidential candidate does not win an election is stereotypical hyperbole voiced by liberal Democrats around election time -- the implication being that Canada hosts a more egalitarian society and hence is a more desirable place to live.
But it appears distraught conservative Republicans are the ones who have been primarily fueling the emigre conversations this time.
Addressing the topic in a blog post for the libertarian Reason.com, managing editor J.D. Tuccille wrote: "Assuming that the disappointed righties are of the sort that care more about economic freedom [as evidenced by comparatively low tax rates and relatively little regulation] than banning abortions, Canada actually looks like a pretty promising destination."
Reason.com wasn’t the only conservative outlet entertaining fantasies of leaving the States behind. As Politico reported, a Fox23 traffic reporter in Tulsa, Okla., on Wednesday delivered a deadpan set of directions on how to make the trip from Tulsa to Winnipeg, telling viewers -- and colleagues laughing in the newsroom -- “This is serious stuff.”
The only thing American border-hoppers might find not so promising: Canadian immigration rules, which have become considerably tighter in recent years.
“Don’t just assume you will be able to cross the border because you don’t like it in the U.S. anymore,” Henry Chang, an immigration attorney with Blaney McMurtry in Toronto, told Forbes before the election.
Of course, most people searching for the next flight to Quebec won’t get that far. Lawyer David Cohen, a partner at Campbell Cohen in Montreal who has specialized in immigration law for more than 30 years, told CNN that only three or four people he has consulted had made good on the threat to move to Canada for political reasons.
Admitting as much in his Reason.com blog post, Tuccille wrote, “[I]t's unlikely that conservatives will head to the Great White North in any substantial numbers. But it's worth knowing that Canada, far from being some two-dimensional pinko version of government-subsidized paradise, has more economic freedom than the nasty, uber-capitalist United States, in many ways.”