Has the American Dream Moved to Canada?
Immigrants choose to leave their country of origin for better opportunities. May it be for employment, education, or safety, people are willing to take a significant risk to start their lives again in a new location. For the longest time, people were so drawn to the idea of the American Dream: a land of equal opportunities for all as long as you possessed hard work and dedication. However, recent global events have given rise to the idea that the American Dream may have migrated to Canada. Scott Gilmore’s piece in Maclean’s compares the aspects of the American Dream to the Canadian society, and he concludes that the data shows an immigrant would fare better in a Canadian milieu. This blog post is meant to not only analyse his approach, but also to expand the idea of what a “Canadian Dream” would be.
Gilmore compares the tenets of the American Dream to today’s Canadian society. Statistically, he claims that education, employment opportunities, and home ownership are better or more available in Canada than in the US. In terms of freedoms, Canada scores higher than the US in global analyses of both economic freedom and freedom of speech. While all of these are important, the most important aspect to focus on is the idea of equality. The American Dream was so attractive to immigrants because it projected the idea that it didn’t matter where you came from, and that success would come if you worked hard. In practice, however, this was not necessarily true. Racial and ethnic discrimination meant that the American Dream was not available to everyone, which created divisions in income across racial lines. Canada has a lower Gini coefficient than the United States. While one may experience cultural or racial divides in both North American countries, and Canada certainly does not have a spotless racial history, Canada’s celebration of multiculturalism has put in place more measures, both administratively and normatively, to guard against discrimination.
While the data shows that immigrants prefer to move to Canada now, I don’t believe that the American Dream is eliminated by that fact. The grit, risk taking, and hard work that came with pursuing the dream are what built American values we can see today: the individual-focused and self-improving approach was what made the American Dream (and by extension, American Society). However, the world has shifted to be more interconnected, more informed, and more inclusive than it once was. Awareness of other cultures, traditions, and religions has increased tolerance. The availability of global news has allowed people to sympathise with other countries and make efforts to aid those who are suffering overseas. A significantly larger global population has also increased the number of people pursuing opportunities abroad, for there are limited spots domestically. Especially with the election of immigration-conservative Trump in the US, Canada has become more attractive to those seeking to create a new life. The Liberal government makes a great effort to project a more welcoming society to reach their immigration goals. The Canadian dream, therefore, is something different from the American one that we all know. Instead of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Canada has the values of “life, liberty, and security of the person” in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Individual agendas are trumped by guaranteeing security, which is a shift to a more society-oriented culture. This makes multiculturalism a more realistic goal in Canada, for one can practice any belief or tradition as long as they will not hurt their fellow Canadians. With a rise of immigrants seeking not only better opportunities but also a safer life, the ideal of the Canadian life has become the new sought-after dream.
Even though it may seem better to come to Canada, it doesn’t necessarily make the process easier. Wherever an immigrant, newcomer, or refugee goes, paperwork and waiting times will be constant challenges. Depending on government policies, some countries will be easier than others to move to, although it is true that conservative policies and negative rhetoric in the US has inclined more people to move to Canada. Whichever dream is more attractive to you, both entail courage and patience.