Elec­tion-watch­ing par­ties in Toronto, and how U.S. ex­pats are re­act­ing,

Se­ri­ous or not, more peo­ple talk­ing about move to Canada than in pre­vi­ous elec­tions

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - SAMMY HUDES STAFF RE­PORTER

The fi­nal day of the U.S. elec­tion cam­paign brought feel­ings of ex­cite­ment and an­tic­i­pa­tion for one Amer­i­can ex­pat. For an­other, ten­sion and un­ease.

Af­ter more than a year, the world will fi­nally know whether Hil­lary Clin­ton or Don­ald Trump is the next pres­i­dent of the United States, putting an end to what was an ex­traor­di­nar­ily di­vi­sive elec­tion cam­paign.

De­spite the many dif­fer­ences Trump and Clin­ton sup­port­ers have with one an­other, by now they share com­mon ground in their re­lief the elec­tion cam­paign is fi­nally over.

“Maybe, maybe, we can start get­ting sleep again,” said Ed Un­gar of Democrats Abroad Canada. “The polls have been look­ing pretty good so far, but frankly we’re all very, very on edge.”

Mark Feigen­baum, chair­man of Repub­li­cans Over­seas Canada, thinks Trump could sur­prise.

“This is en­ter­tain­ing, if noth­ing else,” he said. “A lot of me­dia in Canada’s re­ported how one-sided it will be and how no one will vote for Trump. We’re see­ing now that it’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to be a much closer elec­tion than any­one’s ex­pected. . . . It’s go­ing to be, at least in the pop­u­lar vote, very close.”

Un­gar isn’t tak­ing Trump lightly. De­spite his view that Clin­ton is the only vi­able can­di­date, he knows her op­po­nent stands a chance. He said he’d be “dev­as­tated” if Trump wins.

“Be­cause Trump is the leader of one of the two ma­jor par­ties, he has a rea­son­able chance of get­ting elected and that means that, if he wins, there is also a rea­son­able chance that Canada could be the last re­main­ing ma- ture democ­racy on the con­ti­nent,” Un­gar said. “His can­di­dacy is a threat to the whole idea of democ­racy.”

Un­gar, a Philadel­phia na­tive, said Trump has suc­ceeded by “blam­ing other peo­ple for their le­git­i­mate prob­lems.”

Feigen­baum said he doesn’t share Trump’s so­cial val­ues, but rec­on­ciles him­self to this be­cause he agrees with his fis­cal views.

“The party does have to band be­hind their flag-bearer,” Feigen­baum said.

“There’s no­body that whole­sale be­lieves100 per cent of ev­ery­thing . . . If I were a Demo­crat, I could lis­ten to all of (Clin­ton’s) speeches and say I’m not sure I, 100 per cent, be­lieve that ei­ther.”

Feigen­baum said it wouldn’t be the end of the world to him if Clin­ton de­feats Trump, nor should it be that way for oth­ers if Trump were to win.

“I also re­ally doubt that there’d be hoards of peo­ple mov­ing to Canada,” he said. “I re­ally doubt it would be that dras­tic.”

Whether in se­ri­ous­ness or hy­per­bole, many have made such a dec­la­ra­tion through­out the cam­paign. But de­spite the unique fac­tors of this elec­tion, the threat of mov­ing to Canada is some­thing that comes up al­most every four-year cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to Michael Niren, a Toronto im­mi­gra­tion lawyer.

“It’s a lit­tle bit more ac­tive this round than I would say last,” Niren said. “I think they think they’re se­ri­ous. It’s an emo­tional thing, so it’s driven by anx­i­ety more than a well- thought out de­ci­sion to move coun­tries across bor­ders. It’s more re­ac­tive, and, when the dust set­tles, of­ten, we don’t hear from them again.”

But Alan Re­gan of Mov­ing2Canada.com, a re­cruit­ment agency that helps peo­ple plan their move to Canada, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site has seen a con­sis­tent bump in traf­fic from Amer­i­cans this year com­pared to 2015, es­pe­cially in Oc­to­ber, which had a 65-per-cent in­crease.

“A lot of peo­ple who write in say they don’t care who wins,” said Rob Calabrese, who launched cbiftrump­wins.com, a web­site de­voted to help­ing dis­grun­tled Amer­i­cans move to Cape Bre­ton Is­land if Trump wins. “They seem to be, and, maybe jus­ti­fi­ably so, just an­gry, and feel that their coun­try is go­ing in a wrong di­rec­tion. It’s the so­cial cli­mate, the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate that they are get­ting tired of.”

Feigen­baum, who voted in Cal­i­for­nia, said he’s cu­ri­ous to see if fu­ture elec­tions re­flect the at­mos­phere felt in 2016 or if it was sim­ply “an aber­ra­tion.”

“I think that’s go­ing to be one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing things that comes out of the elec­tion is to see how the next elec­tion goes,” he said.

Un­gar fer­vently hopes the elec­tion turns out the way he would like.

“With Obama, es­pe­cially in 2008, there was a feel­ing of hope. Here, there is a feel­ing of dread, es­pe­cially if he ac­tu­ally wins,” he said. “In or­der to, frankly, de­fend the ba­sic United States’ 240-year ex­per­i­ment in democ­racy, we must de­feat him (Trump).”

RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

Ed Un­gar, left, of Democrats Abroad Canada in Toronto, and Mark Feigen­baum, chair­man of Repub­li­cans Over­seas, are re­lieved the elec­tions are end­ing.

STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO

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