By James Gordon
Feb. 10, 2005
Disgruntled Democrats have had months to cool off since George W. Bush recaptured the U.S. presidency in November, but it appears some may never recover.
Immigration lawyers say they're still coping with a deluge of interest from Americans who've had it with their conservative homeland and see liberal Canada as an inviting alternative.
"The reason really is, when I speak to clients who are going through it, the feeling that their government doesn't speak for them," Montreal lawyer David Cohen said.
"The interest that was there right after the election is certainly continuing on."
The day after Mr. Bush's return to the White House, an unprecedented 115,628 Americans flooded the website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. It was 60,000 more hits than the site normally receives from everywhere in the world combined, and traffic was strong in the following weeks.
Recent hit numbers weren't immediately available yesterday, but an Immigration spokesman suspected they remain higher than normal.
Mr. Cohen said he's still getting three times the normal number of inquiries from Americans seeking refuge in Canada, including some who fear the U.S. war on terrorism will one day lead to military conscription.
Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Zool Suleman has also noticed the trend.
"It's not a tidal wave, but it's certainly a strong, noticeable factor that Americans with draft age children are starting to make some inquiries," he explained. "I think there's a strong sentiment of discomfort with what's going on in the United States."
For now, it's impossible to tell how many will actually complete the immigration process. Normal processing time varies from 12-18 months.
Melanie Redman, a 30-year-old Seattle resident, is among the disaffected Americans who have committed to leaving. She and her boyfriend, a Toronto technology consultant, were trying to decide which country to live in last November. The prospect of four more years of Republican politics was the tipping point. "Bush's re-election was the culmination of many years of policies that have become more and more conservative," said Ms. Redman, an associate director with the non-profit Epilepsy Foundation Northwest. "There's less of social safety net."
She added any lingering doubts she had were washed away by a wave of hate mail she received after her case was publicized in U.S. media this week.
"The amount of support from Canadians versus the amount of hatred I've received from Americans ... it's clear my decision is sound," she said.
The proprietor of a popular website dedicated to informing "progressive" Americans about moving to Canada, canadianalternative.com , has felt similar backlash for months.
"It's quite concerning, actually," said Jason Mogus. "What we've noticed (is) a kind of 'string 'em up' mentality, and those guys seem to have the key to the store these days."
He said he's received "many more positive than negative" letters however, adding the site has received 160,000 hits since Mr. Bush's win.