If Mitt Romney wins, it's time to head to Canada – or is it?
US liberals threaten to head north if Romney succeeds but have they kept up with Canada's turn to the right?
IF MITT ROMNEY can defy the eve-of-election swing state polls and take the White House for the Republicans tomorrow, will Canada see lines of Americans at its border crossings, begging for asylum?
As the New York Times reports, it's a refrain heard every four years: "If [insert Republican name] is elected president, I'm moving to Canada."
It happened when George Bush replaced Bill Clinton, and it's happening again now, says the Times, with many left-leaning Americans, led by celebrities such as the actress Susan Sarandon and comedian George Lopez, saying they can't live in a country run by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
Cher led the charge back in May when she said she wouldn't be able to "breathe the same air" as Romney and "his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters".
Many Romney-haters see Canada as a haven of liberal commonsense. Their neighbours to the north enjoy a universal health care system not unlike Britain's NHS, no death penalty, strong banking regulations, and an impeccable reputation when it comes to attitudes to gays and ethnic minorities.
But have American liberals been keeping up with the realities of modern Canada?
"We've got a right-wing government up here too," Matthieu Aikins, a Canadian journalist who lives in Kabul, told the Times. "And our prime minister's policy on Israel and Palestine makes Romney look like Jimmy Carter."
He is referring to Stephen Harper, who led Canadian Conservatives to victory in the February 2006 general election following an astute merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the right-wing Canadian Alliance.
The Toronto Sun calls Harper "a more ardent supporter of Israel than many Canadian Jews". He's "comfortable" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "on everything from confronting a nuclear Iran to maintaining Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories".
Then there's Canada's economy. "People would have to come with their eyes wide open," said Stockwell Day, former leader of the Canadian Alliance. "We're engaged in a programme of significant fiscal restraint."
Rufus Wainwright, the musician who was raised in Montreal but now lives in New York, told the Times that Canada was now in one of its most conservative periods in decades - "which I hate".
Writing about Romney v Obama at the weekend, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente began: "Most of my Canadian friends believe that Romney voters are either callous capitalists or dupes and fools – mouth-breathing Tea Partiers, country-club Republicans, closet racists, or working-class types who've been tricked into voting against their own interests."
She then devoted most of her column to the thoughts of her American friend Jim, who was thrilled, she said, to have helped elect the first black president in 2008, but was now swapping his allegiance to Romney.
Jim believes universal health care is a moral imperative and hated the Bush regime's reckless foreign misadventures. BUT he now sees that Obama isn't "the post-partisan, centrist bridge-builder" he told us he would be.
"Obama is, in fact, a lefty," says Jim, "and given a free hand we really would become a debt-laden, sinking, entitlement-heavy, socialist basket case."
Jim, in short, will not be leaving the United States for Canada if Romney wins tomorrow. He's more likely to head north if Obama keeps the presidency. ·