Part 6: What About Canada?
When we first decided that we wanted to move away from Washington DC, we also decided that we wanted to move to Canada. Although I'm actually quite a patriotic American, my desire to experience life from another part of the world makes any international choice that much more appealing, and Canada offers enough foreign viewpoints to be interesting and exotic while also being close enough to home to be comfortable and familiar (and within a day's driving distance of our old hometown).
We felt drawn to Canada for other reasons, too. It's the classic hippie dream, after all, moving to Canada, plus they've got Universal Health Care and a more liberal mentally about a lot of issues, which of course we also like, since we're total liberals.
In truth, however, the biggest reason we liked Canada was their less totalitarian attitude about cannabis. When we first started talking about moving to Canada, they'd just legalized medical marijuana, and all across Canada, "smoke-easy" clubs started sprouting up, where public smoking of marijuana was being tolerated. The Canadian Parliament was even considering actual decriminalization!
Since then however, I've become very disappointed with the Canadians. The Liberals tabled their proposed decrim legislation, and then got voted out of office, and the new Conservative leaders are getting all tough on drugs, so things aren't as rosy north of the border as they were not so very long ago. After numerous police raids, the Smoke-Easy we visited a few times in Hamilton has finally been closed down forever, with founder Chris Goodwin now being in jail. Marc Emery, the leader of the Canadian legalization movement, is currently awaiting extradition to the USA as a drug kingpin, for his business of selling marijuana seeds. His fate won't be settled for awhile yet, but the swing towards oppression up there makes me a lot less keen on moving north.
Ironically, when it comes right down to it, my biggest reason for wanting to move to Canada is actually a pretty compelling reason for us NOT to attempt it. As an activist for the repeal of Draconian laws, there's always that chance I'll get into some sort of legal trouble someday which would make it difficult for me to cross the border freely. So, what if we got ourselves all transplanted, and then found I couldn't go home again? (My uncle found this out the hard way, after actually moving to Montreal, and then not being able to get back into Canada after visiting the States.)
I still expect that Canada will legalize pot sooner than the USA, but I could be wrong. Things are changing again, and the future, as always, remains impossible to predict. But I've decided to stop trying to base our relocation decisions on my predictions for where the laws will change first. It doesn't really matter where it begins: we need to achieve freedom everywhere.
There were other practical realities we kept running into as we tried to plan for moving to Canada. When we thought about how hard it would be to try to live in Canada while operating a US-based business, we realized that we'd need to keep one foot planted firmly on American soil. Which would have been fine... it's not like we were trying to turn our backs on America. But there'd really be no way for us to run our business while being completely out of the country for more than 50 weeks of the year, which is what it would take to avoid double taxation. (Just traveling through our routine tour of trade shows has us spending more than two weeks of each year in the States.)
This led to the idea of moving right to the border, to the very appealing town of Niagara Falls, so as to be almost in Canada but still be based in America. For some months now, we've been trying that concept on, wearing it around if you will, seeing how we like it... and while there's much to love about Niagara Falls, we came to realize that:
To top it all off, last week's news of a blizzard in Buffalo, in mid-October, was a reminder of just how much colder it would be up there than we're used to. Brrrrr.
I still love Canada, and the idea of living up there for some part of my life -- however small -- is still appealing. Someday perhaps, we'll be able to open a branch of the Looney Lounge in Hamilton or Niagara Falls, like I've long been dreaming of, but for now, we're giving up on moving to Canada.
So it's good-bye to the Canadian Dream.. but the question remains: where *should* we go?