Dear Prime Minister Trudeau, a modest proposal from a Canadian-American


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I understand that your mind is occupied by great matters of state; I beg forgiveness for my intrusion upon your time, but I do hope that you will spare a brief moment for my modest proposal. I have no important title, no expertise in politics nor access to the corridors of power, but I believe that my startling insight may profoundly affect the future of your great nation (our great nation, if you will allow a Canadian emigrant so bold a claim).

When I left our fair and frigid nation decades ago for the Land of Opportunity to the south, I dreamt of a dominion where all are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what it says in this country’s original ad copy, anyway. The people who live here assert—often to the accompaniment of explosions from fireworks or firearms (they are exceedingly fond of both)—that they stand firmly behind those words. Imagine my shock when I discovered that this is merely a cover for a devious and well-documented centuries-old scheme!

I am getting ahead of myself and should start from the beginning. For many years, I was confused. I wondered if, having grown up in a country so tied to Queen Elizabeth’s apron strings, I was ill-equipped to understand constitutional matters. After all, before I moved to America, I hadn’t realized that “I could care less” means the same thing as “I couldn’t care less.” Perhaps the American constitution also means the opposite of what it says. Take, for instance, the unalienable right to life. If a country wanted to honor such a principle, it would do things like enact sensible public safety measures, provide healthcare, and ban the death penalty. Instead, United States politicians encourage civilians to play with dangerous weapons, turn a blind eye to poisoned drinking water, resist taxes on unhealthy foods, and spend much of their legislative time trying to ensure that American citizens can’t afford to go to the doctor. Life expectancy in the country with an unalienable right to life is the absolute lowest in the industrial world. There is no wealthy nation on earth where citizens can expect less life than in the US. You must agree, Mr. Prime Minister, that this is puzzling.

The situation with respect to liberty is similar. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world, more than six times the rate in Canada. Now, I know what you must be thinking: That’s because Canadians are so nice. With all due respect, sir, Americans are pretty great too. They may be a little bit flamboyant, and they do have an unusual attachment to firearms, but I can assure you that they are not six times more worthy of being jailed than the inhabitants of the Great White North.

Happiness is a thorny issue, for how can one define its pursuit? One person’s curling bonspiel and poutine is another person’s hotdog and baseball game. (I know, sir, I agree with you on this one. Nothing beats cheese curds and gravy.) Equality is certainly not a central tenet of American culture, however. There may be a constitutional loophole, because being “created equal” is not the same thing as deserving to be treated equally. Still, one would think that acknowledging the equality of human beings would make equal opportunity a moral imperative. I was appalled to find out that public schools in the United States are funded largely through property taxes. Children in Palo Alto elementary schools, where I live, are provided with their own musical instruments and iPads, whereas schools in other districts can’t even afford to buy books. Corporations in America spend more money lobbying the federal government than taxpayers spend to fund the House and Senate. Economic mobility is so rare that wages in America are now more heritable than height, and wealth inequality is worse here than in nearly every other developed country. I could go on for pages, sir, but you get the picture. Let me just add that the American President makes more than twice your salary, and he has five times your travel benefit. Tax free. And a really, really big house. And his own jet. I will say no more.

This brings us to the recent epiphany I wish to share with you. One could conclude that America has simply lost its way, but the United States is far too clever for that. I believe that this is the modern version of manifest destiny. You remember “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!” Well, you don’t remember it, since you weren’t alive in the 1840’s, but surely you remember learning about how the United States wanted to take over all of Canada up to the Alaskan border. In the original conception of manifest destiny by John O’Sullivan, there would be no military annexation of Canada, but waves of American immigrants to infiltrate Canadian territory and then seek admission to the United States. By denying life and liberty to so many citizens, some American political factions hope to drive their pursuit of happiness northward, to the land of free healthcare, religious tolerance, and maple syrup. Then, when global warming has turned the farms of America into dust bowls and the tundra of Canada into rich, arable land, the annexation will begin!

Here is my modest proposal: Build a wall, sir, along all 8,891 km (5525 mi) of beautiful Canadian shield, prairie, Great Lakes, and mountains. (Never mind the Alaskan border—Sarah Palin can’t tell you apart from Russia, so she won’t be visiting.) I realize that a wall is not an effective way to keep anybody out, but here’s the brilliant part: Republicans, and in particular Donald Trump voters, believe that it is! The very people who are trying to drive the northward migration will be intimidated by the wall, while the nice Americans and the cool Americans can be welcomed. (Except maybe Kanye West. I don’t know, sir, that’s up to you.)

I thank you for taking the time to read my proposal, Mr. Prime Minister. I wish you luck in your new job, and I do sincerely hope that we elect another reasonable counterpart here to the south.


A concerned Canadian-American

P.S. Maybe you and the American President could work out a different custody arrangement for Ted Cruz. It feels like the Canadians should step up and take some responsibility. Maybe every other weekend we could get a break?

P.P.S Congratulations on appointing a cabinet that is half women. Finally a government that has a chance of getting something done.

P.P.P.S If Trump wins, I’m coming home. I know that I said the same thing in 2000 and 2004, but this time I really mean it.

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