Low loonie gives Trumpophobes a chance to test drive Canada: Don Pittis

With the loonie still low and Donald Trump steps closer to the White House, this is a great opportunity for worried Americans. Rather than make an uninformed runner for the border after the November vote, this is the perfect chance for Trumpophobes to take Canada for a test drive.

Why wait for November? The loonie is low and we have Celsius. Just bring a calculator

As driving season begins on the U.S. Memorial Day weekend, our American cousins have two good reasons to come to Canada: More for their money and less Donald. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The bored-looking man at the border didn't even blink when we told him the grand total of our purchases during a five-day trip to Pennsylvania was a measly $30. Evidently other cross-border travellers are also discovering that even when you try to ignore it and enjoy yourself, a 25 per cent currency markup makes shopping feel expensive.

Today is Memorial Day, part of the long weekend marking the beginning of the U.S. driving season that always brings our American cousins north. But this year there is a double impetus. They can take advantage of the effect opposite to the one we noticed during our visit south.  And then there's Donald Trump.

​A wave of Trump news at the end of last week was a reminder that The Donald is even closer to the White House than almost anyone expected a year ago.

Confident of a Trump victory

It is surprising how many people seem convinced Trump is actually going to win the election. Reasons abound, from sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton that may keep some undecided voters at home to the idea that Trump, like Barack Obama before him, will bring in supporters who are first-time voters.
The fact that a Chinese factory has geared up production of Donald Trump masks on the assumption he'll win the U.S. presidency is one more reason for U.S. Trumpophobes to take Canada for a test drive. (Aly Song/Reuter)

But perhaps the story most ominous for Trumpophobes was the news that the Chinese company Partytime Latex Art and Crafts is so confident of a Trump presidential victory that it has geared up production of Trump masks and scaled back on those of other candidates.

Trial run

There are plenty of stories about Americans planning to cut and run if Trump wins in November. There is even a company offering a Maple Match, the opportunity for Americans to escape "the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency" by meeting and marrying a Canadian.

Getting married to a Canadian and, worse, buying an overpriced Canadian house in a rush after a Trump win in November seems like a bit of a commitment if you're not really sure.
Every American and her dog must be at least considering an escape to Canada after the November vote. Now's the chance to give the country a trial run. (Diane Bondareff/Associated Press)

What if it turns out the new arrivals just can't stand people saying "aboot" instead of "abahowwt"? 

What if they find they really don't care for having a pugilist as prime minister, or for the fact that Canadians are constantly saying, "Sorry"?

Legal pot? 

What happens when they discover that a fill-up is still more expensive despite the exchange rate?

What happens when they discover that the Liberal talk about legalized cannabis was all just an election promise and that the drug squad is still busting people?
Escaping Trump will entail facing Canadian concerns including a pugilist prime minister, higher gasoline prices and a new police crackdown on pot despite an election promise of legalization. (Canadian Press)

That's why driving season is such a wonderful opportunity. Americans can visit Canada, explore it for a few weeks and see the sights. But more important, they can see whether they can adapt to all the differences.

All those extra u's in words like colour and neighbour. The annoying absence of handguns. Remembering that soda is for baking and pop is for drinking. Figuring out what a chesterfield is.

Except for science grads, the metric system and Celsius thermometer will be a mystery at first. The advantage will be that, unless they bother to do the math, they won't realize they are being hosed on gas.

He's everywhere

It will give them the chance to come to terms with the idea that although universal medical care really is real and that it doesn't include death panels, it doesn't kick in until you've lived here for three months.
This Chinese factory is expecting Donald Trump be a winner. 'I think in 2016 this mask will completely sell out,' said factory manager Jacky Chen. (Aly Song/Reuter)

And the great thing is that with the loonie back down to 76 cents US, they can give being Canadian a trial run while getting a 20 per cent reduction on everything. Except gas. And houses. And books with those little stickers updating the "price in Canada."

For those trying a test drive to avoid Trump, there is one other thing to watch out for: the Canadian media is just as obsessed with The Donald as is the U.S. media.

And for my contribution, to any Americans Trumpophobes reading this, I'd just like to say, "Sorry."

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

​More analysis by Don Pittis



Don Pittis

Business columnist

Don Pittis was a forest firefighter, and a ranger in Canada's High Arctic islands. After moving into journalism, he was principal business reporter for Radio Television Hong Kong before the handover to China. He has produced and reported for the CBC in Saskatchewan and Toronto and the BBC in London. He is currently senior producer at CBC's business unit.


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