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Oh, Canada!

The hubbub of International Week here at HBS got me thinking, especially in light of the presidential election this week. Depending on the outcome, there could be an economic opportunity awaiting for our neighbors to the north. Let me explain…

Not too long ago, there were a number of large advertisements in The Washington Post that boasted about Baltimore’s up-and-coming urban neighborhoods and easy commute to downtown DC via rail (if you call 55 minutes each way “easy”). Because of the exponential rise in home prices around the Washington area, Baltimore seized on an opportunity to capitalize on young DC professionals who couldn’t afford to live in the city. Municipalities have been competing with one another for a number of years to lure large businesses and even professional sports teams, but who would’ve thought they’d pull all the punches by targeting residents of other jurisdictions?

So back to the election. Should George W. win this week, would Montreal be wise to open its arms to fed-up Americans? Should Calgary woo tree-huggers from the Pacific Northwest who fear the snowmobiles that were recently re-authorized in National Parks? It seems that the left-leaning movie industry has been outsourcing its production and filming to Canada for quite some time now. Should liberal Hollywood just uproot itself in protest and descend upon Vancouver?

No joke – why wouldn’t some Democrats simply adhere to free market principles and high-tail it up north. Gay marriage and medicinal marijuana is legal in a vast majority of Canadian provinces. Liberals should have been all “a-boot” Canada years ago. Seattle and San Francisco lost their edge with the tech bust, Miami became too popular for its own good, and New York priced-out bohemians long ago. Sure, it’s cold up there, but disenchanted Dems may soon be around the corner. A piece of advice to Canadians: have plenty of hot Starbucks ready and a few HOV-lane diamonds painted on the highways. None of the ex-pats will know they ever left Portland or Minneapolis.

November 2, 2004
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