Fiendish ThingyFiendish Thingy's Journal
Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of my move to Canada. To mark that occasion, as well as to make note of my 10,000th post here at DU (gee it only took what, 18 years?), I thought I'd repost an essay I posted on the eve of our move. I'll probably revisit this in the morning to add some 10th anniversary reflections, but for now, here is the original essay:
(revised version of an essay originally composed in January 2010)
For only the second time in around 16 years, we didnt host Thanksgiving at our home. Instead, we traveled from California to Washington State to celebrate the holiday with my Father-In-Law and his wife and her adult children and grandchildren.
The following day, Friday, November 27,(2009) my wife, my son, my daughter and myself, crossed the border into Canada and landed as Permanent Residents. Earlier in the week, while speaking with my mom on the phone, she asked tell me again why youre moving? Are you having a mid-life crisis? I know, its politics. I told my mom it was much more than politics, which I define as the partisan competition for power and influence in government; I told her the short answer to explain why I was becoming a Canadian Permanent Resident was for my peace of mind.
Peace of mind.
That was the answer I gave over and over to friends, family, acquaintances and total strangers over this holiday weekend when they learned we had landed in Canada. In some cases, folks nodded knowingly, sympathetically. In most cases they understood peace of mind as code for lets not get into the nitty gritty details of this right now. Of course, theres much more behind the phrase peace of mind, as I will explain below.
After Bush was appointed to the Presidency by the Supreme Court in 2000, and following 9/11, the Patriot Act, and the media manipulation/complicity leading to the Iraq War, I felt more than anger over the ways things were going in the U.S.A. I felt the very foundations of what defines America were crumbling before my eyes- free and fair elections, the Rule of Law, separation of powers, the Constitution, were all being destroyed and rendered meaningless.
Then, in 2004, with another stolen election, and the revelations about Abu Graib and Gitmo, my despair over the death of America overflowed; I began researching the process of becoming a permanent legal resident of Canada. Both my kids were still in high school at the time, and my wife thought I was nuts, even though she agreed with me about all the important issues that brought me to the point of wanting to emigrate.
Although serious discussion of moving to Canada stayed on the back burner for a couple of years, I continued to research the immigration process, while recoiling in horror at each revelation of each new atrocity committed by the Bush/Cheney administration. As I would share the information about these war crimes and other civil rights desecrations with my wife, she would often jokingly affect a Canadian accent and remark Eh?. I could tell she was coming around to my way of thinking.
Finally, the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, with the complicity of the Democrats in Congress, was the final straw. An unconstitutional law, giving the President the power to suspend habeas corpus for an individual at his discretion, as well as the power to define what torture is and isnt, despite existing international definitions of torture. I began to speak openly, assertively about beginning the process to move to Canada.
During all the preceding events, I wasnt just sitting at home silently wringing my hands or merely posting histrionic tirades on the internet against the Bushies. I was actively lobbying my elected representatives about these issues I cared very much about. I even give myself some of the credit for badgering my Congressman into co-sponsoring Kucinichs bill calling for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
Finally, in the summer of 2007, on my 50th birthday, my wonderful wife consented to beginning the process to become Canadian residents. We called an immigration lawyer and started to gather all the required documentation. Other than getting our immigration physicals, the process consisted of waiting, and waiting and waiting. As the 2008 election unfolded, we hoped, as did many millions, for significant, tangible change from the arrogance and lawlessness of the previous eight years. Unfortunately, it has become clear in Obamas first term, that any real change in the status quo is not forthcoming in the near future; no substantive action has been taken regarding the core critical issues I care so deeply about. In fact, on many of these issues, Obama is supporting or continuing the policies of the Bush administration.
In addition, my home state, California, is quickly disintegrating.
Finally, at the end of this summer (2009) we were informed that our visas had been approved. We would have to land before our medical exams expired in January 2010. With both kids in college now (one in Los Angeles, 5 hours from our home), there were only two windows where they would be available to travel to Canada with us- the week between Christmas and New Years, and Thanksgiving Weekend. We chose the latter. And so, in one day, November 27th, we landed, met with our lawyer, applied for our Social Insurance Numbers, and opened a Canadian bank account. Whew!
Peace of Mind, at last. Or at least the beginnings of it.
By moving to Canada, Ill be living in a land where the following are guaranteed by law:
Universal, single payer healthcare for all
A womans right to choose
An individuals freedom to marry whomever they choose
Nevertheless, Im under no illusions that Canada is a Utopia offering refuge to a progressive like myself from the developing despotism and third-world, banana republic conditions in America. But it does offer me a way to avoid supporting the unconstitutional crimes committed in my name, with my taxes.
Call it the cowards way out.
Yes, I guess Im a coward for not being willing to face the consequences of tax evasion, or fomenting revolution (Ill leave that to the teabaggers). I havent lost any loved ones from 9/11, Katrina or the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, but Im traumatized nonetheless. By moving to Canada, I am getting some emotional distance from, and I am withdrawing my financial support* for the following :
Elimination of the Rule of Law
Military Commissions Act/Elimination of habeas corpus
Lack of Government Transparency hiding behind State Secrets
Corporate control of both major parties and the media
The despicable cultural phenomena know as virtuous cruelty
The assassination of American citizens by drones or other methods, without due process of law.
And last but not least:
Torture- this is the big one. America gave up its role as the leader of the Good Guys for a little bloodthirsty revenge disguised as enhanced interrogation, in violation of the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Treaty Against Torture, both of which have the force of law in the USA. Although the USA couldnt claim a spotless record prior to the Global War on Terror, our conduct since 9/11 has erased any positive reputation for setting the standards for conduct during wartime.
So now, the waiting was over and the work began: we sold our home in the worst real estate market in decades; moved to a short term rental; now, we are looking for jobs in Canada; weve rented a home in BC, and with a mixture of excitement and apprehension, make the big move to our new home.
We will miss all of our dear friends and family, but hope to return to visit often, and hope to host visitors often in our home in the Great White North.
Until then, in the immortal words of the MacKenzie brothers:
Good Day, eh? ☺
* Yes, Im aware that Ill still have to file US income taxes even though Ill be living in Canada, but I expect we will be taking a hefty pay cut in our combined incomes, as much as 50%, at least in the beginning. Because of this, we will fall within the range for the foreign tax credit and thus will pay no US income taxes. In addition, we will do very little shopping in the US, and wont be paying any money to the corporations (phone companies, energy/oil companies, insurance compamies, banks, etc.) that run this country and control most of our leaders.
EDIT TO ADD:
Reflections after 10 years in Canada:
Well, we faced some challenges, some expected, a few unexpected, but on the whole, Id say we have no regrets.
After several years continuing our careers working in rewarding jobs working on the Lower Mainland, we retired and moved to Vancouver Island just a few months before COVID hit. Although my wife made a few friends at her new church, I had been focused on unpacking and setting up my lifelong dream of having a music studio to jam with fellow musicians. Ironically, COVID squashed those dreams, and I hadnt even had time to make any friends with whom I could communicate with during lockdown. I kept in touch with some of my former band mates on the mainland, but have truly missed having the camaraderie of fellow local musicians. Perhaps an Omicron-specific vaccine will finally change that.
As we are both at high risk of severe illness, even with vaccines, we have continued to lead pretty isolated lives. My wife does bible study via Zoom, and we just got back from a short trip to Portland to see our kids and our new granddaughter.
We dont go out to restaurants or to the movies, and continue to wear masks indoors in public. Our doctor suddenly closed his practice last summer, and we joined the 20% of BC residents without a family doctor (US average is 25%).
Our riding (Canadian for congressional district) is one of the most progressive in Canada, regularly electing NDP/Green party members to both Parliament and the local legislature. (The Green Party of Canada isnt the Jill Stein spoiler as in the US- they are one of the five parties to hold seats in Parliament).
Despite some hardships, we live in a place where we are surrounded by natural beauty, and live in a community filled with generally kind, tolerant and accepting people (and a few antivax kooks who are in the distinct minority). As I said, no regrets.
One minute of perfect summation:
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