Columns

Nova Scotia Island Offers Refuge to Americans Seeking to Escape a Trump Presidency

(Shutterstock)

Rosie O’Donnell, Samuel L. Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Whoopi Goldberg are just a few of the celebrities who promise to leave the U.S. if Donald Trump wins the White House in November.

The New York Daily News published “The Complete Guide to Fleeing President Donald Trump’s America” the morning after the billionaire celebrated his Super Tuesday primary wins.

Singapore, Ecuador, Mexico, and Austria were given positions of prominence in the Daily News guide. But what about Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia?

The people who call the 3,981-square-mile island located east-northeast of the mainland home are actively recruiting American expats who might be so disgusted by The Donald they are ready to pack their bags for Canada.

There are plenty of U.S. residents responding to the Cape Breton Island invitation.

More than 650,000 unique visitors have clicked on the “Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins” website since it went live Feb. 16.

It was a local radio show host who thought of offering Cape Breton to Trump haters in the U.S.

Rob Calabrese told USA Today he showed the concept to a couple of friends in Cape Breton and the response was so positive his wife urged him to build the website to funnel the Trump outrage into Canadian dollars.

“We just thought, ‘Let’s get out in front and say if you’re going to move to Canada, look at this beautiful little option,’” Calabrese said.

The “Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins” fever quickly spread to the Destination Cape Breton Association website.

Mary Tulle, the CEO of the private tourism group, said their website had received more than 380,000 unique visits since Calabrese launched his website. The increase from the 12,000 unique visits during the same time last year prompted Tulle to call in reinforcements to handle the online action.

She said many of the Americans inquiring about relocating are serious. They have asked about housing, employment, and immigration.

There was such an outpouring of serious interest, Canadian immigration attorney Damien Barry called Calabrese and Tulle with an offer to advise Americans who might be interesting in fleeing a Trump presidency to Cape Breton Island.

It’s not as easy as an American dreaming of life with a decidedly liberal prime minister might believe. Barry told the CBC Cape Breton “Information Morning” show that Americans might, ironically, have trouble getting into Canada to escape the man who wants Mexico to pay for a wall to keep illegal immigrants out of the United States.

“Unless you have a specific application ongoing with Immigration Canada, they really won’t offer you any general advice on the phone,” he said. “It might be better to move here on the basis of a work permit or study permit, and then in time look to gain permanent residency from that.”

However, if the soon-to-be expat from the USA is thinking about starting up a business, that could help. Barry said Cape Breton and Nova Scotia are very open to entrepreneurs.

It’s not like Cape Breton couldn’t use a few new hardy souls. Even though it always ranks high in the travel magazines as a wonderful place to visit, not many people want to live there. Fewer than 150,000 people live there now, down about 30,000 from the past 50 years.

Procreation doesn’t seem to be high on the Cape Breton priority list.

“The graduating class in our school system is double the size of the kindergarten class,” Calabrese said.

Calabrese made it clear on the welcome page of the Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins website that all are welcome, no matter if they are Republican, Democrat, or independent. And it is not necessary to officially hate Donald Trump.

“We are experiencing a bit of a population problem at the moment,” Calabrese wrote. “We need people. We need you!”

The website also heralds the diversity of Cape Breton, something Trump haters might find especially attractive.

“In Cape Breton, we value diversity! Here you can hear a number of other languages, like French and Mi’kmaq, even Gaelic,” Calabrese wrote. “But everybody also speaks English, just like you.”

Beautiful photos of the people of Cape Breton, its cuisine, and its scenery are also posted on the website, to entice those who might be looking for a happier place to live than the U.S. under Donald Trump.

The climate is not as extreme as one might think. Just because it is in Canada, as Calabrese points out on the website, it doesn’t follow that Cape Breton is frozen over all year round.

“The summers are delightful, with highs in the 80-degree range,” website visitors are assured. “Winters here are very similar to the Northeast USA.”

This is another plus: maybe it is a result of oversupply and weak demand, but Calabrese said Cape Breton’s housing market is the most affordable in North America.

Cape Breton tourism promoters assert their golf course, Cabot Cliffs, known as the “Pebble Beach of Canada,” was ranked as the Best New Course in the World 2015 – and, coincidentally, ranked ahead of Trump Golf Links in Ferry Point, N.Y.

All that, and no Donald Trump — but there has to be a downside, right?

Well, yes. Conservatives who are thinking of bolting north to escape The Donald need to realize that they would be moving to Canada, a nation that offers socialized medicine and severe gun laws.

Cape Breton might not be perfect for everyone. Calabrese said Donald Trump might also have trouble feeling at home.

“The things that he says on the campaign trail,” Calabrese said, “that way of thinking is pretty much the opposite of here.”