The Next Exit

Stationery Americans seeking to move to Canada
Rahman Mohamed
Updated 19 November 2016

Much of the world including both Canada and Britain have seen the fear: not mass emigration but the threat of a union breaking apart.  Will the United States of America be next?

In 1980 Canada saw the fear of breaking apart: a referendum in Quebec for sovereignty.  The break apart was averted, 60% of Quebecers voting NO to sovereignty.  1995 saw another sovereignty scare.  The result: 50.58% voting NO.  Although it hasn’t died the Bloc Québecois, federal party advocating for Quebec sovereignty, is not a “recognized party” in the Canada’s Federal House of Commons; provincially, the Parti Québecois is the official opposition but makes up a small minority in the Assemblée Nationale (National Assembly).

Recently Canada has begun facing another, this time focused in Toronto, Ontario.  Not yet widely broadcast by the media “ScarExit” hasn’t entered wide discussion outside of Scarborough.  In 1998 the 5 cities that made up Metro Toronto – York, North York, East York, Etobicoke, and Scarborough – were amalgamated with the city of Toronto to create was then termed “Megacity”.  Yesterday, 18 November, CityNews reported that a petition has been launched to hold a referendum to remove Scarborough from Toronto and make it its own city again.  Though not its own province ScarExit is coming to light and considered by some to be a backward step.

The United Kingdom faced a Quebec: Scotland threatened to leave in 2014.  The break-up didn’t come as 55.3% voted to stay within the UK.  Although there is still talk of Scotland leaving the UK, BBC has reported it is being considered a bigger challenge because of Brexit, Britain leaving the EU (European Union).

Today the United States of America is starting to see it: American States contemplating the possibility of leaving Uncle Sam but wanting to become Canucks instead of standing alone.

Around the world people are questioning what the election of Donald Trump means for them.  Sitting at the centre Americans are divided.  Although he has many supporters, there are many Americans who are protesting around the nation and Tweeting President-elect Donald Trump is “#NotMyPresident”.

Immediately after the election Canada saw its immigration site crashToronto Star and other media have reported that it was because of increased traffic from America.  On November 10 Time reported Americans have applied for Visas to live in New Zealand.  First beginning as a joke, CBC reported that “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins”, a website advertising Cape Breton, Nova Scotia willing to accept Americans if Donald Trump won the election has been seeing increasing traffic since the election.

Rather than leaving home some Americans have begun contemplating leaving the United States; there is consideration among some of to seek acceptance as Canadian provinces.  Together with #NotMyPresident , #TheResistanceGQ and #TheResistance among others, #Calexit, #Caleavefornia and #CAindyref have entered the mix – Twitter Hashtags suggesting a referendum in California to leave the United States and becoming their own country or joining Canada.  Tweets also include suggestion of a similar intention among users in Washington and Oregon.  Together with using hashtags some have kept their handle the same but changed their display name to “Calexit”.  Some have also included images in their Tweets of a possible Canada that includes states from both the east and west coast that showed strong support for Hillary Clinton and are resistant to Donald Trump.

On November 10 The New York Times reported a Calexit movement was not new; 200 proposals threatening exit since the state’s founding in 1850.  Grass-roots organizations and secessionists have utilized President-elect point to reignite Calexit.  Even if a state referendum succeeds The New York Times reports that to leave the American union the constitution states California would need two-thirds of both the Congress and Senate and approval from 38 states.

Opinions among Californians differ.  In the Los Angeles Times Thad Kousser suggested than #Calexit began as a fun hashtag but is “a bad idea”.  In his opinion Kousser says exiting the Union would require a constitutional amendment; he suggests California, a Democrat state, bide its time watching what happens during a Trump presidency noting Republican states Texas, Wyoming and Alabama did not try leave in 2008.  On the other hand Timothy William Waters says while he isn’t “patriotic about anything” but if he was “it would be California”.  Although he does not show support for Calexit his opinion says California should have the opportunity to choose.

Outside of the United States Calexit has yet to enter mainstream media headlines.  North of the border on November 10 CBC Radio, As It Happens with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas (one of few Canadian media that have reported Calexit) spoke with Paul Holland about Calexit.  Holland says “it would be almost identical to France. It would be the 6th largest economy in the world”.  An open arm was extended to California in joining Canada.

On the same day Toronto Star reports that “Campaign President Louis J. Marinelli said the election results offer further proof that California is more progressive than the nation as a whole” while Marinelli said he cannot keep up with Twitter messages as Facebook contacts have grow from 11,000 to 15,000 after the election.  The Hamilton Spectator has reported that although it has gained greater social media steam California leaving the Union is not likely.

Across the Atlantic BBC compared the voting in of Donald Trump to Brexit; reporting that Donald Trump said “Donald Trump promised a victory that would be “Brexit plus plus plus””.  Tweeters have said Brexit was the stupidest thing Britain did but electing Donald Trump was “stupider”.

In reference to Calexit BBC reports that “the election prompted liberal-minded Californians to think about a separation of their own”.

California appears as the Quebec of the South, the cross-Atlantic Scotland.  The question: will it choose to stay home or take its own path?

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