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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

Moving to Canada will not fix America’s issues

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 was a day people from all over the world will remember as the day Donald Trump was announced as the 45th President of the United States. Of course, a sizable proportion of the nation was relieved to have averted a Clinton administration, but the majority felt waves of panic. Canada’s immigration website crashed due to "a higher than normal level of traffic." Sure, the website may be available again, and the idea of crossing the border is tempting for many, but that does not mean moving to Canada is a good idea if one’s incentive lies in leaving the swamp that has consumed the White House.

Of course, “I’m moving to Canada” is not a sentiment that is unique to the 2016 presidential election. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed out to Elizabeth Plank of Vox News, this idea of moving to Canada has been a somewhat reoccurring theme, at least for the past few elections. However, the number of people from the U.S. immigrating to Canada do not necessarily line up to the results of the elections held in the twenty-first century. This trend, though, was broken with the election of President Donald Trump. Exact numbers are not known yet,but it has been estimated that about 139 people crossed through Emerson, Manitoba to seek asylum and a spike of people have crossed through Hemmingford, Quebec.

Canada seems appealing for many reasons: the lack of President Trump, affordable healthcare, and the charismatic Trudeau, to list a few. Our neighbor’s history shows that it is not the utopia that the stereotypes make it out to be. It is, however, a nation with a history we can learn from.

Prior to Trudeau, Canada was led by a conservative PM, Stephen Harper, for almost ten years. Some of the policies he implemented were at odds with many Canadians’ beliefs, such as the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act — which banned polygamy, a practice that was already illegal — and the the appeal to ban women from wearing the niqab. Although Canada had more progressive aspects such as marriage equality and single-payer healthcare, Harper undeniably went against the wishes of many Canadians throughout his administration.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2015, Canada prevented Harper from completing his tenth year as PM by replacing him with Trudeau. Since then, the Canadian government has made many progressive strides such as dropping the appeal of the controversial niqab ban, making the Canadian cabinet more representative with an equal number of men and women, and opening Canada's arms to welcome refugees.

As appealing as it is to cross the border, it is time to reflect on ourselves, look at what our neighbor has done, and create a course of action to make the upcoming years of a Trump administration the best they can be. Yes, as former President Barack Obama said, the sun will rise in the morning, but merely relying on our planet’s orbit around the sun is not going to miraculously implement political change. Instead of envying the fruits of our neighbor, it is far more constructive to see how the fruits were harvested and try to plan out how to implement these lessons in our future.

What made the 2015 election in Canada so momentous was the voter turnout. Each province saw an increase and overall nation saw a voter turnout of 68.49 percent — the highest it has been since 1993. On the other hand, the U.S. saw the lowest voter turnout since 1996. Approximately 55 percent of eligible voters actually casted their ballots. Many factors may have contributed to this low turnout, including ambivalence towards the results or inflexibility of workers’ schedules, but regardless, this demonstrates the importance of voting.

Had Canadians given up hope in not having the same PM in office, perhaps their government would have continued in the trajectory it was headed, but they realized that they had some degree of power over their government and changed their political route. This was not a foolproof plan by any means, but the people did their part in participating in a democratic society.

America is a nation that prides itself in fair and free elections. But there is still work for us to do. Staying abreast with current events is another critical factor. However, instead of solely expressing discontent within our echoic chambers, respond to injustice by calling senators and representatives accordingly. The elections that deserve our attention are not simply limited to the presidential elections. We must go out and participate in our congressional elections and our state elections just the same. As influential as our president is, he is but one man, and thus we must ensure he has a strong team to guide our nation. This is the beauty of a democracy. We all have voices, but this gift shows its significance only if we use it.

As in many other instances, running away from a problem is significantly easier in the short-run. However, the consequences that we evade can conglomerate into something of grander proportions later on. As we have seen in our previous election, downplaying the chance of a Trump administration arguably led us to where we, as a nation, are today. Instead of packing our bags and leaving for a country that appears to be prospering and progressing in ways we appear to struggle, let us remind ourselves where the U.S. and Canada were approximately a year and a half ago — the U.S. had Democrat Barack Obama; Canada had Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Perhaps there have been some Canadians who were tempted to cross the border to leave a government that they did not approve of or found "cruel and unusual."

Despite this adversity, they fought a peaceful political battle by banding together and voting for a PM who advocated for "real change now" throughout the campaign trail. Decreasing potential votes cannot help a democracy or a situation; in fact, it can exacerbate both. Let us allow Canada to be an example of how to stay calm and progress as a democratic society rather than a resort to which we can flee if things do not go our way.

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