Even Canadians Think Americans Are Toxic

Of all the bad signs, this one feels especially telling

Stephen Marche
GEN
Published in
7 min readSep 10, 2020

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Canada and U.S. flags from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Photo: Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

This summer was a rough one for Americans visiting Canada. Friends of mine who live in Washington, D.C., and summer in Nova Scotia put a sign in their car window this year: “Canadians Happy to Be Home.” The word “home” was underlined twice. Nobody wants to be confused. A handful of Texans at a restaurant in the Canadian Rockies mentioned to their server that they were on vacation; she promptly called the police. There have even been unprecedented acts of minor violence: Cars with U.S. plates have been keyed, drivers tailgated and hassled.

Canada is the United States’ deepest and closest friend and ally, even if the U.S. often doesn’t know it, so Canadian opinion registers changes to America’s place in the world sooner and more fully than other countries. For Canadians, the sudden separation of the closed border on March 21 was shocking. That the border has remained closed ever since has been life changing. Until 2009, you didn’t even need a passport to cross. I remember drifting across the 49th parallel with a lazy wave. Now, nurses from LaSalle, Ontario, who work across the border in Detroit, are living in trailers on their lawns, sequestered by circumstance. Neighbors have complained about the lawn trailers — a violation of local bylaws — but the mayor of LaSalle has declared that those bylaws won’t be enforced. The nurses are providing humanitarian efforts for people who, despite living in a different country, are still close friends. Nonetheless, the nurses work in the United States, so they must be kept apart.

America and Americans have become toxic. On one recent day, September 3, Canada had zero Covid-19-related deaths, and the United States had 1,066. Europe and Asia are beginning to open up from the pandemic, but the United States will remain closed. Eighty percent of Canadians want the border to stay shut. On the southern U.S. border, in the ultimate irony of the Trump era, mayors and governors of Mexican towns and states are asking for stricter regulations for Americans hoping to enter their country. The exclusion has nothing to do with history or anybody’s feelings. The matter is practical. It’s not just the Covid-19 numbers, but what those spiking numbers signify: political chaos, dissolution of the…

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Stephen Marche
GEN
Writer for

Writer for everybody. Enemy of boredom. Books, essays, podcast, stories here: www.stephenmarche.com