Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced an ambitious plan to provide refuge to U.S. citizens who feel “morally or emotionally” endangered by a looming Donald Trump presidency.
The program, called “Helping Our Beleaguered Neighbours,” aims to give Canadian citizenship to as many as 400,000 Americans by the end of this year, with a further two million offered four-year visas to reside in the country until Trump loses his bid for reelection in 2020 — which observers are already predicting is inevitable.
“Just the other day, I was telling my wife we don’t have enough American friends visiting our peaceful country, and how it’s probably our own fault and that we should do something about it,” Trudeau said in a public address on Monday. “And now with the election catastrophe, we’ve got a darn good reason to make this happen, don’t you think?”
Along with access to universal healthcare, the right to purchase alcohol at age 19, and free classes with real Canadians to help newcomers understand the accent, an unmarried American who becomes Canadian will be paid as much as 12,500 CAD ($9320) simply for relocating to Canada, while a family of four could get as much as 45,000 CAD ($33,280). Applicants will be eligible for lucrative bonuses if they can demonstrate useful skills like blogging and using social media.
Brian Legentil, Canada’s Minister of Hospitality, lauds the program as a way to release pressure from a U.S. society that has become increasingly volatile and divided over the past few years.
“We don’t want pissed-off Americans to go and do anything crazy now, okay, because we’re stuck living next to you,” he said. “Why not come up here and take a breather? We’ve got lots of space, beautiful scenery, nice people and the best maple syrup on the planet.”
“In Canada, you can marry who you want, accidentally bump into a guy in a bar and not get shot, and eat french fries for breakfast, lunch and dinner without someone telling you it’s bad for your health.”
The program, which officially kicked off on Monday, is possible thanks to a seldom-used fund for resettling North American refugees that was originally established in 1861 and has been growing since then. The fund has accumulated so much interest, in fact, that some officials say that former Americans should be also be provided with electric cars, eco-friendly tiny houses, and even Xboxes.
In a ceremony at the Canadian Embassy in Washington on Monday, NYU film studies graduate and professional dog walker Taylah Sproules, 23, was the first American to be given Canadian citizenship under the new program.
“Thanks to the people of Canadia, I’ll no longer live in fear of roving gangs of Trump supporters driving around in BMW pickup trucks, waving assault pistols, shouting jingoistic slogans, and threatening to grab my sexual organs without my permission,” Sproules said as Canadian Ambassador Dave McNaughty pinned a maple leaf to her faded CBGB sweatshirt. “I’ll be able to get an MFA for free and have all the birth control pills I want without some male oppressor behind the counter saying, ‘Miss, you’ve got to pay for those.’”
Canadian citizenship will be granted to U.S. citizens on a first-come, first-served basis. However, applicants must first sign an affidavit certifying they did note vote for Donald Trump, and hospitality officials say that they retain the right to turn back any American who swaggers, manspreads, or uses impolite language. “We’ve got to be a little picky,” Minister Legentil said. “Sorry about that.”