Imagine you tune in to the Prime Minister’s daily pandemic briefing today and hear him say this: “We are now ready to open the American border. As of Monday, Canadians — and our goods and services — will be able to cross into the United States unhindered.”
You might wonder what Canadian would want to enter a country whose tragedy far outstrips our own.
You might also wonder how this would play to American ears.
But when the reverse happened on Wednesday and Donald Trump suggested that America was going to open the Canadian border, most of us just shrugged at another mad idea from the President. It echoed the one he floated last month to have troops stationed at the Canadian border to keep undesirables from fleeing to America.
Yesterday, Justin Trudeau said there is still a “significant amount of time” before the border restrictions are relaxed. Doug Ford was more blunt, saying “I don’t want them in Ontario.”
That seemed to be the end of that. Donald Trump said no more about it and like many ideas he floats out there in his 2-hour daily pandemic updates, what’s here today is gone tomorrow.
But I think we’re in for more Trump-talk about America opening Canada’s border to kick-start its economy. I say this because it’s been four whole days now that he’s had to play nice with others. It was on Monday when he said he has “absolute power” to order the states when and how they can re-open. Yesterday, he stood up and said the governors could call their own shots.
So his ego will soon be boiling over at this sustained humiliation and need to start raging again.
Before it does, we should look seriously at the idea of inviting Americans to come to Canada as political refugees once the pandemic is done.
I used to joke about this with my American friends, usually after a conversation about how Canada invited many more Syrian refugees into our land than America did. Whenever some bad thing happened in America, I’d say to my friends that we have a spare room in the basement and would welcome them to stay there until they got on their feet. Most are university educated, job-ready, speak one of Canada’s two official languages and would integrate easily into the Canadian mainstream.
But by the Fall, there really could be millions of highly-skilled, out-of-work Americans fleeing The American Nightmare with all its bipolar ravages.
Since Trump took office in 2016 and closed the border to good people from all kinds of bad places, Canada has capitalized on those closed doors by inviting them to come to Canada instead.
Now, leading scientists, academics and entrepreneurs from mainly Muslim countries have turned to Canada to settle – to our great benefit and America’s loss.
The pandemic has turned so many of our cherished ideas on their heads that I invite you to consider one more.
Once the daily death-knell goes silent, and amid the thousands of ideas already out there to do life better the next time around, let’s resolve to think hard about opening our doors to the best and brightest, and not just from what we think of as countries capable of a humanitarian crisis. Let’s think of opening our doors to the people who’ve been living on our doorstep for hundreds of years.
In particular, let’s invite their exhausted doctors to come and live and work here. They know first-hand the system that forces nurses to use garbage bags for PPE, that turns ERs into morgues, that has doctors in one state slagging “Democratic doctors” in another for false-counting of deaths.
Our health-care system isn’t perfect, by any means. But as Winston Churchill once said about democracy: “It’s the worst form of government, except for all the others.”
Let’s also invite America’s entrepreneurs to bring their burning desire to our rising fires. Did you know that Toronto has more brain scientists than anyplace in the world? That we are the global leader in Artificial Intelligence?
We’re also a country of just 38 million people occupying the second biggest area of land in the world.
We’ve got lots of room for people. And maybe if we start importing them by the thousands and thousands once this is all done, that number will turn into the millions and millions. And not far off, Canada will be absolutely awash with immigrants.
Which would solve another chronic problem of ours: the small size of our domestic market and our resulting reliance on imports from other places.
In fact there’s a think tank I’ve mentioned before that promotes this very idea. The Century Initiative believes Canada should have 100 million people by the Year 2100. Since our birth rate is declining, despite the fact that we’re all thrown together in our homes these days, pretty much all of that growth will come by opening our doors much wider to people beyond.
And why not? We’re one of the most successful immigrant-inviting countries in the world.
Which has made Canada one of the sanest countries as well.
So the next time you’re talking to an American friend, tell them that, come the Fall, you might have a spare room in the basement for them.