Can a remote Canadian island become a potential refuge for Americans trying to escape the current administration? The emails started coming into Cape Breton Island just after Donald Trump won his first presidential primary last year. They still arrive from Americans who think they might be willing to relocate to a place with short days and frigid temperatures five months of the year.
“I am so sick of what has happened to my beautiful country,” one resident of the Lower Forty-Eight wrote.
The first sign of what Rob Calabrese would come to think of as America’s unmooring began last year. Just after Donald Trump won his first presidential primary, Calabrese published a $28 website that he’d designed in 30 minutes. “Hi Americans!” What followed was a sales pitch for an island where Muslims could “roam freely,” and where the only walls were those “holding up the roofs” of “extremely affordable houses.”
“Let’s get the word out!” Calabrese wrote, adding a photo of an pristine coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. “Move to Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins!”
It was initially a joke but seven hours after Calabrese linked the site to the Facebook page of the pop radio station where he works as a DJ, in came an email from America. “Not sure if this is real but I’ll bite.” And then another: “It pains me to think of leaving, but this country is beyond repair.”
Yankees quickly realized Calabrese’s effort was not a joke. The Calabrese response about housing: “You’ll find it one of the, if not the most, affordable in North America! If you want to take a look at some of the latest listings,” he emailed to The States some websites of Cape Breton Island real estate companies.
He started answering questions about immigration…“The process has changed, some people say it is much less complex, let’s get started”…and dual citizenship…“Every country decides whom it considers to be a citizen. If more than one country recognizes you as a citizen, you have dual citizenship. Find out more here.”
Some asked if Cape Breton Island was offering a special program. “No,” said Calabrese. “There is no special program. The immigration process would happen in the conventional way. The purpose of the web site is to show that if you are interested in coming to Canada, that Cape Breton Island would be a place where you would be welcomed with open arms!”
Calabrese started answering questions about retirees immigrating, (“There are many paths to permanent residency and citizenship) and the economic climate in Cape Breton Island. He was candid: “Cape Breton’s economy has suffered for many years. In the past we depended on coal mines and steel production but those industries are gone. We have a burgeoning IT sector and some great new tech businesses are starting here.”
Calabrese increased his trolling: “Want more information, Google Cape Breton Island if Donald Trump Wins.”
The U.S. side of the phenomenon was “unsettling,” according to the Washington Post: “The toll of the president’s proposals has been swift on the nation’s tourism industry, with tour group organizers saying that people suddenly have an unsettling sense that the United States isn’t as welcoming a place as it once was. One industry expert projected lost revenue for 2017 at $7.4 billion.”
A-E will apprise Greater Jasper residents of any mass emigration to a beautiful but chilly destination. Google Cape Breton Island Tourism website for stunning photographs of the beautiful part.
The future of coal
The quick erosion of most markets for U.S. and Cape Breton Island coal are inescapable. Just look at markets for West Virginia and Kentucky coal. Despite the President’s campaign pledges, the first two sentence in this paragraph are inevitable.
More insight into inevitability: earlier this month, the Harlan County, Ky., Coal Museum switched to solar power.