canada flag grunge wooden

BBC: A Trump presidency has Americans looking north

Every four years, terrified by a potential president, many Americans roll out a well-worn pronouncement: "I'm moving to Canada!"

However, this year they have helped to make that often empty threat a reality.

The 2016 election campaign has been full of surprises, the biggest is Donald Trump. His divisive campaign has turned some American voters off. But he's on track to become the Republican nominee after receiving more support than his contenders. His lack of political experience is refreshing for his supporters who believe his business background shows he can get things done.

Before entering the race he was best known for being the host of US reality TV show The Apprentice. During his campaign he's made controversial remarks including proposing a ban on Muslims entering the country, building a wall between Mexico and the US, and accusing Mexicans of being rapists.

A website called MapleMatch.com is promising to save Americans from "the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency" and its slogan takes inspiration from the campaign: "Making dating great again."

Google searches for "how can I move to Canada" spiked after Mr Trump won seven out of 11 primaries during "Super Tuesday", according to the search engine's data editor Simon Rogers.

 

The American founder of MapleMatch Joe Goldman saw an opportunity to connect those wanting to leave the US with Canadians through dating. He says the website is more than just about trying to escape Donald Trump and is a real chance for Americans and Canadians to find love across a border. The unexpected demand means there is work to be done on how to match people when it launches.

Canadian love

Aubrey Knotts said escaping a Trump presidency was "a big reason" why she signed up but not the only reason. "I also just really love the country, I went on a trip to Toronto during my senior year of high school and fell in love."

She said it was a silly thing to sign up for but though it was worth a shot and she was seriously considering moving but as a student she'd have to think about whether she had the money to move.

But not everyone is taking it as seriously. Edie Harris from Chicago said she signed up as a joke and didn't think she'd leave the US. She said: "I can't see myself taking an escape route from something I could feasibly help change again four to eight years down the road, in another election cycle.

The idea to lure dissatisfied Americans to Canada is not new. Rob Calabrese, a radio DJ set up a website to attract them to the Canadian island of Cape Breton. The website was visited by "over one million people" and Mr Calabrese said he was "honoured" to have brought so much attention to the island. The offer wasn't just for those fleeing the possibility of President Trump. "We welcome all, no matter who you support, be it Democrat, Republican or Donald Trump."

A Canadian technology start-up company called Sortable advertised job opportunities on Facebook targeting Americans looking to live abroad.

The founder, Chris Reid, told Vox: "Just the whole thing seems bizarre. And that's why we thought, 'Oh, we should do some bizarre recruiting around it'" — placing Facebook ads encouraging American engineers to come work at Sortable and escape the Trump." Despite the ploy they hadn't hired any Americans because of the campaign, but had plenty of interest.

Sortable advert on FacebookImage copyrightFACEBOOK

Mr Goldman said it's "exciting to be able to be a conduit" for people finding love and has always been interested in Canada. It's not surprising then, that as a single American dreading the idea of President Trump he's also signed up - although he adds there'll be no preferential treatment for him.

While the service aims to help Americans escape a possible Donald Trump presidency, for Canadians Mr Goldman says it could widen their dating pool and "meet people they wouldn't usually meet". The service hasn't gone live yet but there are already around 10,000 people signed up, and the site has seen so much traffic they've struggled to keep up.

 

Finding a Canadian to date isn't the only option for Americans who are seriously considering emigrating. Moving temporarily for work is quite easy under current agreements between the two countries. Although if choosing to stay permanently the special treatment for US citizens ends and they are treated the same by Canada's points-style system as someone from Norway or Yemen.

 

Read more