Canada was once a smug nation. We thought ourselves virtuous, and the rest of the world took us at our own estimation, especially Americans who threatened to move here when a Bush president or two became particularly intolerable. And we would have welcomed you!
That was Canada for you: eager to meet kindred souls such as draft dodgers and conscientious objectors. We were peacekeepers rather than bomb droppers, environmentally aware, urban, gun controlling, laughably snowbound, and apologetic to a fault.
Now, I’m sorry to say, we can no longer invite you. I mean, we’d still like to, but you wouldn’t make it across the border. And normal, peaceful, thoughtful Americans wouldn’t enjoy it here anymore. We’re becoming precisely what you’re trying to escape.
What a long, strange slide it has been for Canada since 2006, when Stephen Harper became prime minister. You thought you saw the last of Richard Nixon when he helicoptered off the White House’s South Lawn. Wrong: the man had a clone. And that clone must have been watching a lot of Sarah Palin speeches. Harper is Nixon without the charm, he’s Nixon without the progressive social and environmental programs, he’s Nixon but he worships at a fundamentalist church. If he wins reelection in October, Americans might want to consider a northern wall.
You seem to have survived Nixon and Palin and George W. Bush. But we Canadians have never had anyone like Harper. His most recent biographer, John Ibbitson, calls him