As election night reports increasingly pointed toward a Donald Trump victory in his campaign for the United States presidency, the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) ended up crashing. Given Trump's active pursuit of far-right support, the relatively progressive reputation of Canada and its close proximity have once again made it an attractive place for U.S. liberals to move. As well, those on the right who take a "love it or leave it" attitude admonish people to "just" leave for expressing what some perceive as "anti-American" attitudes.

The challenges of moving to Canada

Never mind that various manifestations of dissent, including protest, are integral to American democracy, the odds of being able to "just" move to Canada are very slim.

Non-Canadians trying for employment need to be highly competitive in relation to qualified permanent residents or citizens. Furthermore, employers typically need to receive a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) before formally hiring someone from outside the country. In fact, that's the process my now-former spouse went through seven years ago. She had accepted a faculty position in Ontario, and she obtained a work permit specifically for it. Since I did not have a specific job offer, I got an open work permit as her spouse. Unfortunately, I still had difficulty finding full-time employment. Partially for that reason, I decided to pursue my PhD, which required a study permit. So essentially, it's difficult to "just" move to Canada without such specific purposes as work or study (which also require proof of "sufficient funds"), or without claiming refugee status.

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Furthermore obtaining permanent residency or citizenship can be challenging from a bureaucratic perspective. In my case, I returned to the U.S. in October due to a variety of interlocking catch-22s and financial concerns.

The role of privilege

Beyond the aforementioned challenges of moving to Canada, conceptualizations of privilege also emerge as points of consideration. For HuffPost Canada, Heather Magee wrote a piece on how "Living in Canada Is a Privilege, Not a Consolation Prize" (November 4th, 2016). Indeed, during my seven years there, coinciding with most of Barack Obama's two terms as president, I saw it as a privilege to be able to stay for as long as I did. I had an opportunity to learn about the United States' neighbor to the north beyond the superficial stereotypes, and even to educate my friends back home about its complexities. Unfortunately, this also includes some of Canada's grimmer aspects, such as its treatment of First Nations people. As well, Hannah Meyer's Odyssey piece "Why Threatening to Move to Canada Is the Epitome of White Privilege" (May 31st, 2016) discusses the connections between casual desires to move to Canada and pre-existing forms of privilege, as well as the ways they abdicate "an individual's personal responsibility to act within the democracy."

Think before moving

Of course, one should move to Canada if an appropriate opportunity comes along.

That's what happened in my case, and it can be a good way of learning about a country that has worked over the past 150 years to form its own identity. On the other hand, it also requires careful consideration of immigration standards, more serious reflection upon one's motivations for moving, and who will be left behind to uphold the ideals of a nation whose future remains at stake.