A significant number of Americans talked about moving to Canada should Donald Trump win the 2016 election. There's good reason for this. For many in the United States, their northern neighbor seems like a bastion of liberalism in the Western world.
Canada's popular, young prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is in many ways an anti-Trump, willing to do things such as greet Syrian refugees personally at the airport or campaign against climate change. But in the aftermath of Trump's unexpected victory, it has become apparent that Canada is not exactly free of would-be Trumps, either.
One hopeful is Ontario member of Parliament Kellie Leitch, who sent a note out to supporters Wednesday that celebrated Trump's victory and suggested that Canada should be next. "Tonight, our American cousins threw out the elites and elected Donald Trump as their next president," Leitch's note read. "It's an exciting message and one that we need delivered in Canada as well."
Leitch, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, is currently campaigning to become the next leader of Canada's Conservative Party, the major opposition to Trudeau's Liberal Party. She is hoping to become Trudeau's electoral rival in the next Canadian election, likely to be held in 2019. "It's the message I'm bringing with my campaign to be the next Prime Minister of Canada," her note to supporters read, adding that she was the only Conservative candidate "who is standing up for Canadian values."
Nick Kouvalis, a member of Leitch's election team who previously worked for the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, also took to Twitter to express similar support for Trump's victory. "The elites are out of touch with regular, average people that are trying so hard to realize the promise of the CDN/USA dream," Kouvalis wrote. "Hope & Change!"
Since announcing her leadership campaign last month, Leitch has gained attention for a number of unusual policy proposals, including a plan to screen potential immigrants for "anti-Canadian values" such as intolerance to other religions or sexual orientations. A poll conducted for the Toronto Star in September found that 67 percent of Canadians favored the new law, but others politicians — including those from Leitch's own Conservative Party — have criticized it.
"Putting something like a values test in that place, in that space, I think is going to have the opposite effect, and it'll chill people wanting to come here," Lisa Raitt, a Conservative member of Parliament in Ontario and a rival for the party leadership, said in one interview. "I don't think it helps if you sign up on a questionnaire that says 'do you like freedom or maple syrup.'"
Leitch had previously said comparisons between her and Trump were unfair. "This isn't the same thing. … This is about having a conversation about our Canadian values, about what we're about, about a positive, constructive conversation about the reality of the values that built our nation," she said in one September interview. Her comments may have been made because of Trump's perceived unpopularity in Canada — according to one poll from Pew, 80 percent of Canadians said they had "no confidence" that Trump would do the right thing regarding world affairs.
But now that Trump has been elected, many Canadians — even anti-Trumps — are finding themselves reassessing their relationship with the U.S. president-elect. “I’m going to work with president-elect Trump’s administration as we move forward in a positive way for not just Canadians and Americans but the whole world,” Trudeau said in a statement Wednesday.
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