California, Oregon and Washington joining Canada? The west coast dream, one year on

By Drew Penner

They live in the land of dreamers, but there’s at least one reverie U.S. West Coasters have a hard time believing in – joining Canada.

That’s what we discovered when we headed south to ask Americans about a proposal that gained steam on social media in the weeks following Donald Trump’s election.

The Pacific states Oregon, Washington and California fell heavily into the Hillary Clinton column in the last election, and some suggested it might be time to split off and hook up with their friendly neighbour to the north.

But as we drove deep into the dark heart of the American Empire, it was clear residents don’t believe it could really happen, despite how nice the idea might sound.

“I’ve only been to Canada once, and I really liked it, so I’d be totally down with that,” said Alexandra Laflamme, a 21-year-old student at Southern Oregon University. “But at the same time I don’t see it being realistic at all.”

Sitting across the table from her at an Ashland, Oregon diner, her friend Havilah Criss, 22, explains it’s something her friends have definitely thought about before.

“I’ve heard it in the context of like ‘West Coast is the best coast.’ And then people are like ‘Canada too!’” she said, making a peace sign with her left hand to underscore the casual significance of the comments. “And then everyone else is like, ‘Yeah, Canada too!!’”

With that she drops a pair of solid thumbs ups, because it’s not like West Coast folk don’t mean it.

But Criss says any secessionist movement that gained traction would be fraught with danger.

“I would probably get pretty afraid,” she said. “Think about the issues it would cause – an absurd amount. And there are crazy people here – crazy people who have Confederate flags on the back of their trucks and armouries of guns.”

Actually, a bunch of customers at the restaurant in the rural part of Oregon politely declined to be interviewed for this story, as if a culture of fear was holding them back from even risking appearing un-American in the era of Trump.

On the one hand it makes total sense. West Coasters have gained a reputation as right-brained blue-blooded Democrats pushing socialist agendas somewhere to the right of Canadian centrists. And potential names bandied about for Canada’s next territorial expansion underscore the innate creativity overflowing the Pacific Rim: Calorington, Washorefornia and Calicadia.

While there would be serious benefits for Canadians to joining forces with the U.S. West Coast (not least of which is the elimination of Peace Arch border lines), on their side of the ledger, U.S. citizens are quick to broach the subject of universal medical coverage.

“Certainly on the issue of health care I would join you guys in a heartbeat,” said Ken Polson, a 49-year-old marketer in the Seattle area now feeling the pinch of the new Republican tax bill, quickly adding, “I don’t take it too seriously.”

Still, he can’t help but wonder what it might be like not to live in a land where the head of state just cheered tax reform through the Senate that experts says will make health care even more costly for independent consultants like Polson.

“I pay for health care for not just me, but for my wife and my child, too,” he said, taking a break from typing away on his laptop at a Panera Bread just off the I-5 highway. “And it’s going to get worse with the new tax bill.”

Polson admits he’s not really up to speed on Canada’s political system, so he didn’t want to argue too strongly for a merger, yet.

“I know that your health care system is much better, your social safety nets are probably much better,” he said, “whereas here they’re being completely dismantled.”

Down at a coffee shop in Oakland, where the excitement of the Bay Area’s tech scene was palpable, retiree Patricia Dempsey said this idea of joining Canada was pure foolishness.

“I don’t think they would go for it,” said the 77-year-old dollhouse aficionado, although she can see people liking the notion. “I think it would be too complicated.”

4 Responses to California, Oregon and Washington joining Canada? The west coast dream, one year on

  1. nonconfidencevote says:

    Never happen.
    A weed smouldering pipe dream.

  2. greg blee says:

    We’ll take ’em if they’ll give up their guns!

  3. Timo Scheiber says:

    Two thumbs up – where do I sign?

  4. Mark says:

    i love canada
    lets go

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