Taking Off, Eh?

Well the US election appears to be over, and people on both sides are taking this [month] to … rest before the campaign for 2008 begins [next month].

Okay, maybe that campaign won't start quite that fast. However in the aftermath of a close and hard-fought election, there are reports that dissatisfied US Democrats are thinking of moving to Canada. We here in Canada would welcome you with open arms: It would only be fair, as we sent you both Jim Carey AND Celine Dion. Indeed, we're happy to take in immigrants from just about every nation on earth. And it's in that spirit that I offer the Definitive Guide to Becoming Canadian:

For individuals:

1. Do not show up at our borders in July wearing a winter hat, snow suit, and fleece-lined boots. Honest, it doesn't snow all the time, and the immigration officials will laugh you out of the office. They may even make you watch Jim Carey films first.

2. Leave your assault weapons at home. The Canada Firearms Act, for example, prohibits the following types: AK-47s, Uzi sub-machine guns, pop star Britney Spears, M-16s, SUVs, Berettas and Aussie Prime Minister John Howard. Hunting rifles are just fine; we're very fond of pheasant and venison up here.

3. Learn to love hockey. This is non-negotiable.

4. Feel free to bring your national cuisine with you. The Canadian palate is very multicultural, and we're just as likely to nibble Pad Thai or Sag Gosht as we are maple syrup and beaver tails.

5. Learn the words to the Canadian national anthem. Once you've got them memorized, you'll be ahead of a good chunk of the established Canadian population, who still get the current version muddled up with the original.

6. If people offer you a double-double with a Timbit, do not slap them for making an obscene proposition. That's just Canuck speak for coffee and doughnuts.

7. Learn an extra language. Our two national languages are English and French, but if you stand on any street corner in a major Canadian city and shouted “Hello!” in any other language, you'll get a response in kind — we're a country of immigrants. You'll also get a visit from the area RCMP constable, asking you to please keep it down.

8. Go easy on the beer at first. We like our suds strong, and if you have a few too many, you'll get a visit from at least two RCMP constables asking you to keep it down — and to clean up what you haven't been able to keep down.

For states, regions, or nations looking to join:

1. Be prepared to adopt conventions on human rights and the environment. We Canadians don't always get these things right at home — there's that embarrassing Celine Dion air pollution thing to consider — but we try hard, and think others should, too.

2. You must have one hockey arena for every 50,000 people.

3. You should also have at least one doctor for every 50,000 people. If you have more, so much the better — we're a little short up here.

4. You must also have at least one doughnut shop for every 3000 people. (Yes, we truly think there should be more doughnut retailers than doctors.)

5. Referendums and elections should be held with plain old paper ballots, marked by voters with a sturdy pencil. Yes, it's boring and old-fashioned, but man does it save us a lot of lawyer's fees and chad jokes.

6. Your application to become the eleventh province or fourth territory will be fast-tracked if your state/region/nation has one or more clean, warm-water beaches. Because while it doesn't snow here all the time, we do need the odd break or two in February.

Oh, and one other thing: Learn to say eh, eh?

To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.

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