In the waning hours of Super Tuesday, the American public took note of a few key developments:
Donald Trump was projected to win in at least seven states.
And, the government of Canada’s immigration website was experiencing delays.
Coincidence? The Internet didn’t think so.
By the end of the night, Trump had secured victories in seven states, well ahead of his competitors. But his popularity wasn’t apparent on Facebook and Twitter, where users lamented the billionaire real estate mogul’s rise and contemplated fleeing the country.
Long ignored and called derogatory names like “America’s hat,” Canada — that vast expanse of snow and maple trees — became the Promised Land.
This newfound recognition wasn’t achieved overnight.
The first rumblings of a northern migration were heard after Trump announced his presidential run. They intensified after the candidate proposed a total ban on Muslims entering the United States. And on Tuesday, as Trump’s nomination became an ever-looming reality, the desperation reached a fever pitch.
According to Google trends, searches for “How to move to Canada” surged as Tuesday’s results came in. Simon Rogers, a data editor at Google, noted that the phrase’s search popularity had increased by 350 percent between 8 p.m. and midnight Eastern.
At midnight, the spike reached 1,500 percent. To quote Trump himself, “Just look at the numbers, way up!”
The American people are looking for a solution. That solution now appears to be the Canadian immigration system.
Norm Kelly, a city council member in Toronto, noted that many of his American followers were tweeting at him. “Here’s the link,” he responded, giving them the immigration web page.
Canada’s promise is contained in more than its geographic convenience. As The Washington Post’s Ishaan Tharoor pointed out Monday, Canada’s newly elected prime minister Justin Trudeau is in many ways the “anti-Trump.”
Whereas Trump revels in name-calling, Trudeau recently posed in a pink T-shirt to proclaim: “Kindness is one size that fits all.”
Whereas Trump has said he is “not a believer” in climate change, Trudeau has been determined to change Canada’s spotty record on environmental policy.
And there can be no greater contrast between the two than their respective approaches to the Syrian refugee crisis. Aside from Trump’s call to ban all Muslims coming into the United States, he also has said that any refugees who have arrived “as part of this mass migration” will be sent back to the war-ravaged country if he is elected.
Last December, Trudeau personally welcomed the first batch of migrants as part of a pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees — a campaign promise that the government said it achieved this week.
If all this sounds too good to be true, there’s more: An invitation has already been extended by Canadians to aspiring Canadians south of the border.
A website created by radio host Rob Calabrese shares the splendors (in Canada, that would be “splendours”) of his native Cape Breton Island, a picturesque locale in the maritime province of Nova Scotia.
“If you have a baby, you get paid leave for almost a year,” Calabrese told the CBC. “If you cut your hand, you can go to the doctor and get stitched up for free.”
To top it off, the island also enjoys warmer climates than the rest of the country.
While Calabrese initially had only comedic intentions for the site, he told the CBC that he has since received several serious inquiries, including one from a Cornell University professor.
“They’re asking genuine questions about things like the immigration process, the economics,” he said. “It’s been taken seriously by some people, which is great and not intended, but I’m going to help them out as best I can.”
Spoken like a true Canadian.
Not all Trump detractors are contemplating escape, however. A number of patriots have implored their fellow countrymen to resist taking the easy way out by heading north.
“All this s—‘s happening and you’re going to say that to me? I’ve heard this before,” comedian Hari Kondabolu said in a prescient stand-up routine four years ago. “‘If Bush wins again, I’m moving to Canada.’ You’re not moving to Canada! No one’s moving to Canada. I hate to break this to you, but Canada doesn’t have a special visa for American liberal cowards.”
Kondabolu is right. As of Wednesday morning, no such visa exists.
In fact, it may soon become a lot harder for Americans to reach Canada, thanks to the border wall idea popularized by Trump.
“It’s time to build a wall — the higher the better — along our 8,891-kilometer border with the United States, ” declared the editorial staff of the Globe and Mail, a Canadian national newspaper, in August of last year. “Let us build the Great Wall of Canada.”