Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands is taking a unique approach to its observance of the scores of polarized, disenfranchised U.S. voters — including celebrities — who threaten daily to seek asylum in Canada should Donald Trump be elected as president in November.
The shore town community has launched a website and new marketing campaign to welcome potential defectors to the country.
In fact, since launching its Cape Breton if Donald Trump Wins website on February 16, as USA Today notes, the page has attracted more than 650,000 unique visitors as well as “floods of emails asking for more information on job opportunities, how to apply for work visas.”
This upswell in web traffic has been so great, in fact, that the Destination Cape Breton Association non-governmental tourism board, alongside site creator Rob Calabrese, has established a dedicated team to respond to such requests for information.
“I think that because [the website] presented it as a beautiful destination, there’s no question there’s an interest piqued,” said Destination Cape Bretan Association CEO, Mary Tulle, who noted that her own group’s website traffic has also swelled to 380,000 hits from 12,000 in 2015.
Per USA Today, most U.S. citizens are inquiring about immigration, potential employment, and housing, which the group sees as an indication of seriousness.
In other words, many of Cape Breton’s U.S. inquiries indicate the possible desire for more of a long-term stay for anti-Trump voters.
Of course, Cape Breton also has its natural beauty to fall back on.
“When you look at travel magazines, Cape Breton is always ranking in the top of the world for beautiful islands,” noted Calabrese. “The people have an international reputation for friendliness and hospitality.”
For Calabrese, the idea for the site started out as sort of a joke after observing the number of U.S. voters who threatened to bolt for Canada in 2008 upon Barack Obama’s election.
“I showed it to a couple of people who had a chuckle,” Calabrese told USA Today. “I wasn’t going to do anything and then my wife said, ‘Hey that Donald Trump website, you should launch that’.”
For Calabrese, however, the idea of portions of the U.S. populace actually moving to Cape Breton or any Canadian community in the event of an unfavorable election should not be based purely on political leanings.
“What I think of Donald Trump is irrelevant,” he said, speaking of the Cape’s Gaelic and French Canadian heritage, folk music tradition, and overall tranquility. “The fact is, [Trump] is the most famous [person] in the universe and the things that he says on the campaign trail, that way of thinking is pretty much the opposite of here.”
Cape Breton, as USA Today notes, is much like a ghost town. In the past 50 years, the population has shrunk by nearly 30,000. Local industries, including steel and coal mining, have nearly evaporated, leaving residents to seek jobs elsewhere.
“Our population decline is so severe right now, the graduating class in our school system is double the size of the kindergarten class,” said Tulle.
Of course, the question in all of this is not whether a potential Trump presidency could have such a drastic affect on Cape Breton or any part of Canada, however.
The real question is whether local Cape Breton government officials will be the ones building a wall to keep its populace from exploding.
[Image by Three Lions/Getty Images]