Google searches for 'moving to Canada' spike for some reason

Google searches for 'moving to Canada' surged on Super Tuesday, as dismayed voters contemplated heading north. But Canada's been political dissidents' 'land of hope' since the 1700s. 

Toby Talbot /AP/ File
Miguel Begin, chief of operations for the Canada Border Service Agency in Stanstead, Quebec, stands at the border gate in this November 2012 file photo.

The Great White Northern grass is always greener at election time, when American voters pine "O Canada!"

According to the national anthem, Canada's the land where "pines and maples grow, great prairies spread and Lordly rivers flow!" But for many US liberals, in particular, it's the land of all their own country has once again elected not to be: national healthcare and gun control, in particular. But for disgruntled voters in 2016, it's also about what Canada doesn't have: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. 

As the Democratic and Republican frontrunners consolidated their leads on Super Tuesday, winning seven states each, Google searches about immigrating to Canada spiked by as much as 1150 percent, a phenomenon noted earlier Tuesday night by data editor Simon Rogers. (To see its live stats, and which states are most eager to pack up, click here.)  

Canadians were ready with open arms — some of them, anyway.

Would-be Canadians can take a 15-minute questionnaire to determine their eligibility, which improves if you actually know Canadians (namely, by blood or marriage), have a Canadian degree, or have mastered certain specialized trades, from professional caregiving to electrical wiring. 

The journey to citizenship starts with permanent residency, similar to a US green card. From then on, law-abiding, taxpaying applicants must prove competence in French or English, take a citizenship exam, and stay in the country for at least 1,460 days – coincidentally the length of a US presidential term – in the six years before applying for citizenship.

The long process no doubt dampens many a disgruntled voter's hopes of simply fleeing the country, but about 8,500 Americans have made the leap each year since the early 2000s, an uptick from the pre-Bush years, when about 5,000 a year was par for the course. 

It's hardly a new tradition, though: political immigration to Canada is as old as the United States themselves. British Loyalists headed north during the Revolutionary War, and tens of thousands of draft-eligible men famously (or infamously) moved during the Vietnam War.

"Although some of these transplanted Americans returned home after the Vietnam War, most of them put down roots in Canada, making up the largest, best–educated group this country had ever received," says an archived report on the country's immigration website. 

Reactions to more recent migrants are a bit more hit-or-miss.

It's the "last resort" quality of many Americans' interest that some Canadians find insulting, as well as its usually-fleeting nature

"When push comes to shove, Americans are reluctant to give up what they have," Canadian immigration lawyer David Cohen told Discovery in 2012. "I believe, from my experience, that Americans feel strongly at the end of the day that the United States is their country. The vast majority return to the homeland."

This time around, however, love of Canada may have more staying power, particularly as newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau puts a young face on Canadian-style diplomacy, decency, and diversity. Global headlines' adoration of his country's "hipness," from a much-debated New York Times profile to the Monitor's own op-ed suggesting Canada could "help save democracy," present a sharp contrast to outcry against Donald Trump. If Canada's playing second fiddle to the US, it may be for the wrong reasons, some voters think; perhaps Canada really is the "the land of hope" its anthem proclaims.

And if they do pack up, they'll find at least one community thrilled to have them: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, which has launched a campaign to attract Trump-fearers, although it promises, in true Canadian style, to be nice "no matter who you support." 

The island openly admits to having a bit of a population problem. But "you WILL be charmed and delighted," an ex-Missourian writes in the site's testimonials, called "WE DID IT!" 

"The people are warm and generous and embrace diversity. Having the security of a public health system takes away some of the stresses of everyday life," says a former Mainer. "The island is absolutely breathtaking. I've been here for 10 years and don't plan on leaving anytime soon."

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