Should Canadian immigration officials pay closer attention to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe? The International Boundary between the United States and its neighbor to the north is a 5,525-mile unfortified and unwalled border zone. Streams of ex-pats that would rival the Oklahoma exodus in the Dust Bowl era would certainly come under Canadian scrutiny and Calvin Trillin offers some helpful hints for potential migrants. If this is a (fair & balanced) response to persecution or fear of potential persecution, so be it.
[x New Yorker]
By Calvin Trillin
Tag Cloud of the following piece of writing
I may have presumed. I refer to a moment in 2004, a few weeks after George W. Bush was reëlected, when I found myself addressing a room full of people who were profoundly unhappy about the election results. “If I seem less dispirited than most of you here tonight,” I began, “it’s because I already have a house in Canada.”
I do have a house in Canada. I’ve lived in Nova Scotia in the summertime for many years. The presumption on my part was taking for granted that, hypothetically, I would be acceptable to Canada as a legal resident rather than as a relatively harmless and easily jettisoned summer person. In fact, I wouldn’t be—and neither would many of the people who have been driven by the 2016 Republican Presidential-nominating process to talk about emigrating. From what I understand, the Canadian government assumes that American applicants older than a certain age—even American applicants who may claim to be seeking asylum from a country in danger of being taken over by an egomaniacal windbag—actually want to move to Canada in order to take advantage of the single-payer health-care system that they have spent years disparaging.
But what if we could set aside this little problem with the health-care system? I still see myself getting into some difficulty with the interviewer from Immigration Canada—even though, as I imagine it, I would have boned up before our meeting on the sort of facts that Canadians seem to love. The interviewer has in front of him a large binder full of clippings and transcripts. Consulting it, he asks me about something I’d said a few years ago, in Toronto, while moderating a debate on whether to use the American or the Canadian method of signalling to a speaker that he’s exceeded his allotted time: “Under the American method, two large men approach the speaker, throw him to the ground, kick and pummel him, pull out 9-millimetre Glock automatics, and fill him full of lead. Under the Canadian method, I clear my throat and point to my watch.”
“Were you implying that Canadians are wusses?” the interviewer asks.
“Not at all,” I say. “James Naismith, a native of Almonte, Ontario, invented the game of basketball.”
“And at another such debate,” the interviewer says, paying no attention to what I thought was a pretty salient point about James Naismith, “when discussing the attacks on Danish embassies after Danish newspapers published cartoons depicting Muhammad, I believe that you said the following: ‘We have to expect a strong response when people’s most sacred, deeply held beliefs are insulted. How would Canadians feel if a newspaper in Pakistan began ridiculing recycling?’ ”
“And let’s not forget Walter Pidgeon,” I say. “A fine actor, born and raised in St. John, New Brunswick.”
The interviewer ignores that. “And didn’t you once claim to hold the record for the most consecutive columns on a Canadian subject by an American columnist—at two?” he asks. “That sounds like a sarcastic way of saying that Canada isn’t all that important.”
I am quick to deal with that accusation forthrightly. “Seth Rogen is from Vancouver,” I say. “And he’s quite a funny man—funnier, even, than Raymond Massey.”
“And what’s this business about wanting to be considered one-sixth Canadian content because you live in Canada two months a year?” the interviewer says. “And I quote: ‘For every six Margaret Atwood books on the Canadian-authors shelf, there should be one of mine.’ ”
“A fine writer, Margaret Atwood,” I reply. “And how about that Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize, eh!”
The interviewer pauses to consult his binder. The Canadian “eh” that I’d tossed in for effect doesn’t seem to have impressed him at all. I’m hoping that he hasn’t come across the column I wrote after NAFTA was implemented, in which I suggested that, as a matter of convenience, Canada should change the date of its Thanksgiving Day to correspond with the American Thanksgiving Day. Just then, it occurs to me that he may have found the parody I published which used some of the actual recycling regulations promulgated by our county in Nova Scotia. (“To recycle telephone directories, first remove the binding glue.”)
The interviewer is taking his time going through the documents that he has removed from the binder. I’m starting to panic. I say, “When the CBC asked viewers to name the greatest Canadian in history, they named Tommy Douglas, who is considered the father of the Canadian health-care system. It may interest you to know that he was also Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather.”
The interviewer returns the clippings and the transcripts to the binder. Suddenly, I hear myself saying, “I’m seeking asylum from a country in danger of being taken over by an egomaniacal windbag.”
The interviewer closes the binder and walks out of the room. Ω
[Calvin Trillin began his career as a writer for Time magazine. Since July 2, 1990, as a columnist at The Nation, Trillin has written his weekly "Deadline Poet" column: humorous poems about current events. Trillin has written considerably more pieces for The Nation than any other single person. Trillin also has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker since 1963, when the magazine published “An Education in Georgia,” his account of the desegregation of the University of Georgia. More than three hundred of Trillin’s pieces have appeared in The New Yorker. His most recent book is Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff (2012). A native of Kansas City, MO, Trillin received his BA (English) from Yale College in 1957. He served in the army, and then joined Time.]
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