American celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham and Bryan Cranston have said they'd immigrate to Canada if Donald Trump is elected president. But now that the real estate mogul and reality TV star is President-elect Trump, could Canada see a surge of unsettled Americans resettling north of the border?

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This article was published 9/11/2016 (2024 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

American celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Lena Dunham and Bryan Cranston have said they'd immigrate to Canada if Donald Trump is elected president. But now that the real estate mogul and reality TV star is President-elect Trump, could Canada see a surge of unsettled Americans resettling north of the border?

Judging from the jump in numbers of applications Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada received since Trump declared his candidacy, it's possible.

From 2011 to 2014, the number of Americans applying for permanent residency in Canada fell 17 per cent from 8,964 to 7,606. After Trump declared his candidacy for president in June 2015, there was an eight per cent increase in the number of Americans applying to move permanently to Canada, data from IRCC shows.

"There are many Americans who are looking to immigrate north," said Winnipeg immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke.

So many that on Tuesday night, with election results showing the reality TV star and businessman was going to win, the Canadian government's immigration web site crashed and was down for hours.

Web searches for "move to Canada" and "immigrate to Canada" rose Tuesday night as election returns favoured Trump. "Canada immigration" was trending on Google and "Canada" was a leading U.S. trend on Twitter, with more than one million tweets.

For some Americans, checking out a move to Canada was done just for fun. For others, a Trump presidency and the rancour and racism his campaign exposed is seen as a threat to their security. Trump has called Mexicans rapists, retweeted the words of white supremacists and called for a total ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

In Canada, parliament quietly passed an anti-Islamophobia motion on Oct. 26. Islamophobia is defined as "dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force." The motion condemns acts of hatred against Muslims. That symbolic move in Canada is a stark contrast to the results of a survey in the U.S. The Council on American-Islamic Relations surveyed Muslim voters on the presidential election and issues of concern. It found that 85 per cent of polled Muslim voters believed that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. has increased in the past year. Thirty per cent said they have experienced discrimination or profiling in the past year.

Maddy Ballard of Philadelphia participates in a protest of the election of Donald Trump at City Hall's Thomas Paine Plaza on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

TRIBUNE MEDIA TNS

Maddy Ballard of Philadelphia participates in a protest of the election of Donald Trump at City Hall's Thomas Paine Plaza on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016.

'America has been turned upside down'

Americans' affirmation of Trump on Tuesday makes American Muslims even more nervous, said Islamic Social Services Association president Shahina Siddiqui in Winnipeg.

"They're down, they're upset. It's like America has been turned upside down," said Siddiqui, who has family and friends living in the U.S.A. "The civilization — things that people fought for so long for — it's regressing." Muslims she knows are "hoping and praying" that their fellow Americans will stand with them when Islamaphobia rears its head. "Will it even be safe anymore to speak up about it?" Still, none of the Muslims she's spoken to are packing their bags for Canada -- yet.

The Canadian government says it wants to attract skilled, educated and English-speaking immigrants but Siddiqui doesn't know what to tell her loved ones in the U.S. about moving to Canada -- if this country will continue to be an accepting oasis of diversity. The anti-immigrant lobby, xenophobes and Islamaphobes may catch on in Canada, and Muslims won't feel safe here, either, she said. "Can I really promise them security here?"

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch has praised American voters for throwing out "the elites" to elect Trump and said that same message needs to come to Canada, the Globe & Mail reported Wednesday. In a fundraising e-mail to supporters the Ontario MP expands on her plan to screen immigrants and refugees for "Canadian values" to also include visitors – although what she means by visitors isn’t entirely clear.

Canada's parliament may have passed a motion banning Islamaphobia but there has to be action taken to address incidents when they occur, said Siddiqui.

"I feel a strong statement coming out from Mr. Trudeau is needed to reiterate Canadian values," Siddiqui said. "When it comes to gender, race, religion and human rights, Canada is different."

President-elect Donald Trump addresses supporters at an election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown November 8, 2016.

JABIN BOTSFORD / THE WASHINGTON POST

President-elect Donald Trump addresses supporters at an election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown November 8, 2016.

Canada is attractive

South of the border, Canada is seen as different, said Clarke, the immigration lawyer. "For liberal-minded Americans, the benefits of living in Canada are obvious," he said. "I recently spoke to a family from New York who are now looking to move. For that family, they were very impressed with Parental Leave benefits from Service Canada. When they had their first child, the mother banked her vacation time so she could stay home with their baby for three months," said Clarke.

"Now they are looking to grow their family and they want to live somewhere that gives them more time with their children. In another case, I spoke with an American who is married to a Mexican and they are genuinely concerned about his safety. These are highly skilled, educated Americans who see their future in Canada."

For Americans moving to Canada, Manitoba has become a bit more of an attractive destination over the last dozen years. In 2005, Manitoba welcomed 115 newcomers from the U.S. out of 8,096 new permanent residents to the province. In 2014, 172 Americans came to call Manitoba home out of 16,223 new permanent residents who moved to the province.

"Every case is different and they are looking to come to Canada for myriad reasons," said Clarke. "In my discussions, it often comes down to people. They have relatives or friends who live in Manitoba and they become interested in relocating." Manitoba has a lot to offer, Clarke said. He noted that Vogue magazine recently highlighted Winnipeg as a 'must-visit' destination.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.