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September 21, 2006

Recommended reading

The Talking Dog interviews Bill Scher , the author the new book Wait! Don't Move to Canada. TD asks Scher how Democrats can use rhetorical/marketing/positioning strategies to communicate their message on national security and other important issues.

A White Bear blogs about a recent conference call between feminist bloggers and Lynn Paltrow executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women:

Rather than focusing on abortion rights alone, NAPW is working to protect the health, dignity, and humanity of pregnant women and mothers no matter what the choice. It seems that right to birth control and abortion procedures is just the tip of the iceberg of assaults on the rights of pregnant women, who increasingly face criminalization (or hypercriminalization) for behaviors that affect a fetus or infant, rather than assistance and medical support for ending those behaviors.

John Amato has the video of Jane Hamsher on Keith Olbermann last night discussing how the Clinton team is using bloggers to get its message out.

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As a Canadian/American, do you feel we should all take Mr. Scher's advice and stay in the U.S., Lindsay? If so, is it because you agree with his arguments, or is it because you just don't want a bunch of American wetbacks dragging down the Canadian economy and pissing off the Bloc Québécois even more than they already are? Your motives are suspect, missy. Come clean, or else we'll have to torture">http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=newsOne&storyID=2006-09-21T212419Z_01_N21370348_RTRUKOC_0_US-SECURITY-GUANTANAMO.xml&WTmodLoc=Home-C1-TopStories-newsOne-2">torture you in a compromised way.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but won't it help the Liberals regain control of Parliament if the Bloc gets sufficiently pissed off to declare independence?

I haven't finished Bill's book yet, but I think it should have been called, "Don't Move To Canada Unless You've Got A Thing For Universal Healthcare, Stunning Scenery, and Maple Syrup."

Alon, I don't think there's a straightforward relationship between pissing off the Bloc and helping the Liberal Party. There are many plausible scenarios in which antagonizing the Bloc would help the Liberals, but there are just as many where a fractious Bloc could help Stephen Harper and his right wing reactionary hordes. The right wing lives and dies by exploiting Western resentment about all things Quebecois.

I mean, the Bloc isn't going to declare Quebec's independence from Canada, the province of Quebec would have to do that, presumably following another referendum.

If there were another referendum, the consequences for future Parliamentary elections would be difficult to predict.

Other recommmended reading...

"How to properly construct XML tags on Typepad!"

And really Don't Move To Canada unless you fancy living in a country whose http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060921.warar21/BNStory/National/home> House of Commons apologizes to torture victims. I'm just happy I moved to said country before Bill Scher could tell me not to.

Good for the House of Commons. Apologizing is the first step, and a very important one.

I really hope this unanimous expression of regret leads to an official condemnation of the US's actions in this case, and of the practice of "extraordinary rendition" generally, and of torture.

Diamond Jim, I hope you're enjoying your new life in Canada. It's a wonderful place to live, and if I didn't have this New York City addiction, I'd probably live there now.

I haven't finished Bill's book yet, but I think it should have been called, "Don't Move To Canada Unless You've Got A Thing For Universal Healthcare, Stunning Scenery, and Maple Syrup."

As an American who's considering moving to Canada, and who has actually taken steps to do so (though there is that NYC addiction to get past), I can't say the book was terribly convincing. In fact, it hardly dealt with reasons why people would want to move to Canada, and when it did, it either handwaved them or used the old standby of a guilt-trip (i.e., the "You shouldn't move to Canada because there are other people who can't." Well, there are a lot of people who can't go to college, but nobody tried to talk me out of it on that basis). My kingdom for a serious set of arguments against leaving.

I also found the number of points for improving the country that depended on the Democrats growing a spine rather depressing.

zuzu, have you checked out http://wemovetocanada.blogspot.com/>we move to canada? Among other things, it's a very useful source of information about the process.

>I also found the number of points for improving the country that depended on the Democrats growing a spine rather depressing.

Hi zuzu,

I actually moved to Canada last year, because I was disgusted by the idiotic move of the Iraq War, and felt we were being very stupidly mismanaged. As to the political atmosphere, I was heartened by the _huge_ number of people who litmus-tested me to sound out what I thought about Bush's administration. All seemed to share my views on him (this was Vancouver). However, against a scandal flameout of the Liberals in Canada, they voted in Stephen Harper last year, along with many new freshman Conservatives. One person told me that the United States' GOP had actually contributed hugely to many of these Conservative campaigns, but nonetheless, there it was. But I did find all of the Canadians I spoke to about politics to be thoughtful, respectful, and to have common sense.

I would say, though, that on the general question of moving: unless the US really collapses somehow, I wouldn't move there for negative reasons of disillusionment with the US; if possible, I would visit Canada a few times, and find the things to love about Canada. Not just to accentuate the positive, but because I don't think your move will be as likely to take, if you don't find more positive things about Canada than negative things about the US.

I spoke often, and to everyone I got to know, while in Canada, about life there. The consensus was that Vancouver, especially North Vancouver, was the warmest place in Canada in terms of temperature, but the coldest place socially. It seemed like a good place if you were a cliqueish, snotty, frosty, nightclubbing 24-year-old, but as a person of a certain age, I felt _very_ out of place, especially being unmarried. Most of the people in their 30s and 40s seemed to be married, with 2.4 kids and a dog, and if you weren't, you felt like a runner in Logan's Run. Also, unlike in San Francisco and environs, where there seem a million ways to meet people, or in New York a billion, there was absolutely no way to meet people there. It was bizarre: in San Francisco, when I see a band play, I'll often say to one of the musicians, "hey, I liked your band. I liked the way that such and such, etc." The person will almost always say, "thanks. That's very cool, I appreciate that. What's your name?", and a happy introduction followed by a "have a good night" will result, even if the band is somewhat famous. In Vancouver, doing the same thing a couple of times, I was met by complete silence. In the Bay Area, you meet people in classes, at yoga, biking, hiking, whatever--not everyone is happy to meet from a cold start that way, of course, but enough are that you get a social life going. But aside from the three or four friends I already had that lived in Van, I made exactly one lasting friendship there, the whole year. It may be that I'm just a dick and don't know it (no comments from the peanut gallery, please), but of course, that wouldn't explain why I _do_ make friends very easily in San Francisco.

The natural environment, the trees, islands, skiing just 45 minutes to a couple of hours away, was great. The people were very polite (except for the loud, violent drunks, downtown--and I was told that for some reason, Canada actually has more biker gang members per capita than any other country), and I was touched that someone from work even invited me for Thanksgiving. I still remember that. Also, the common sense and rationality that they all showed was wonderful. All in all, I got the sense that the Vancouverites would have been great people to get to know, if it hadn't been against the law to get to know them.

Montreal, from what I heard, was the opposite: _freezing_ cold, but socially, just a blast. One of the most fun things I did in Vancouver was to go to a French Canadian festival; I could see immediately that the French Canadians seemed to be people who had festivals as naturally as Russians make Vodka. I never heard a bad thing about Montreal (nor a good thing about Toronto, but maybe that was just because of the weather there). The Newfies I met were very friendly people, and all also agreed that if you go to Newfoundland or the other eastern provinces, you fall in with people right away, they're welcoming and friendly.

The main issue, of course, is work: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are the places with work. Since the oil rush, Calgary has taken off too, and Alberta seems to be both benefiting from and wondering what to do with their windfall. If you're okay with being in oil or mining, then you can work in bumf--- Egypt smaller towns, but if you want other work, then you may be stuck in the big three cities.

I haven't read much of the book yet, it's my project for this weekend. Is it really an argument against moving to Canada, or is moving more of a metaphor for giving up on American politics?

"how Democrats can use rhetorical/marketing/positioning strategies to communicate their message on national security and other important issues."

I'm not a good judge of political movements, nor am I a good judge of the psychology of motivating people to vote a certain way, so I'm probably wrong about this, but I think the Democrats need something quite different from rhetorical changes. I don't think better marketing will lead to a long-term political realignment in America, such that the Democrats can again become the majority party, as they were from 1932 to 1968. I don't think better communication strategies will change the balance of power in American politics.

I do think some faction that is currently loyal to the Republican party needs to break with the Republicans and switch sides. That would bring about a real re-alignment. Just as the South ended the era of Democratic rule by leaving the Democratic party and joing the Republicans, so to, some faction must leave the Republicans and join the Democrats. Or, another possible way the Republican era might end, some wholly new faction must arise in American politics, and the Democrats must win their loyalty.

I haven't read much of the book yet, it's my project for this weekend. Is it really an argument against moving to Canada, or is moving more of a metaphor for giving up on American politics?

It's really the latter, though as I said, a lot of the suggestions for improving American politics depend on convincing Democrats at the top to grow a spine and get a coherent set of principles. A lot of the other suggestions I felt were inapplicable to me as a New Yorker, such as talking to neighbors, friends and coworkers and getting involved in politics on the local level. Everybody around here is already a Democrat or leans left, and forget about trying to get involved in the party locally, given the machine that runs Brooklyn politics. A friend of mine has been trying to find contact information for the local Democrats for about two years now. At least he doesn't suggest moving somewhere like Kansas, as others have.

1984, thanks for the info about meeting people in Vancouver. That's definitely a concern for me, since I'm single and in my 30s.

You're welcome, zuzu. I hope everything works out well. I think it can be a beautiful place to live, as long as you can adjust to having just a small core of three or four friends (likely very nice friends, once you make them), and to the small number of cultural attractions. As a San Franciscan, I felt very deprived of the music, museums, theatre, and other fun things San Francisco has to do, but Vancouver has very sparingly; as a New Yorker, if those things are important to you, you might go out of your gourd. But if you're into mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and a quieter but more healthy and outdoorsy life, it can be great.

Oh, and important: the rent there is nothing, but the wages there are _nothing._ The Australian people I met there really chafed on that. "In Australier, you get heaps mo'." Houses can be $400,000 Canadian, so not as much as in the Bay Area or New York, but still a bit; and food costs seem to be high enough; but the rent balances it out, if you're just renting. I had a place in North Van, with a forest across the street from me, and through the forest a beach; and behind me, another forest, and 30 minutes behind that, a ski mountain.

Good luck!

>I had a place in North Van, with a forest across the street from me, and through the forest a beach; and behind me, another forest, and 30 minutes behind that, a ski mountain.

Oops, forgot the punch line: this one-bedroom went for $800 Canadian a month. Near San Francisco, to get a place with a mountain, forest or beach across the street, you'd be (probably in Marin) lucky to get it for $1800 a month US.

1984,

The main issue, of course, is work: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver are the places with work.

Um, no. Both Calgary (which you mention in passing) and Edmonton (which you don't mention at all) have much, much lower unemployment in all sectors (not just the oil sector) than any of those three cities. And they're both over a million people, too, so it's not a matter of moving to "bumf."

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