And what about Canada? I always check myself when I feel the urge to write a column about our moral superiority. But on this issue, Canada really does stand apart. There is no mainstream anti-immigrant party in Canada. Nor any mainstream anti-immigrant media outlet. Nor advocacy group. One of the most disastrous decisions Stephen Harper’s government made was to appear heartless in response to the 2015 migrant crisis. When Justin Trudeau was elected, he personally greeted incoming refugees at an airport—a masterstroke that would have been treated as political suicide in many other countries. Nor do any of the major Canadian political parties advocate a substantial rollback in free trade or investment. We are perhaps the only nation on earth whose politicians and media have unanimously made peace with the forces of globalization.
To the extent that Canada ever was going to have a Donald Trump moment, we arguably already had it. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives railed against niqabs and foreign-funded ngos, created an old-stock patriotism cult around the War of 1812, and promised ever-harsher treatment of criminals. But it never quite caught on as a long-term political strategy among anyone under fifty. When the Tories tried to take health care coverage away from asylum seekers, they were soundly rebuked by judges and pundits alike, and retreated. In the end, Canadians simply had no real appetite for this sort of policy. In fact, under Justin Trudeau, we increasingly have come to embrace the outward rejection of narrow-minded nativism as a defining feature of our national brand.