My husband and I chose to move to Canada from the U.S. after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 (assuming you believe he was elected the first time). We were seeking a better fit for our values—a place we felt was pro-environment and anti-war.
One reason we left was a perceived “meanness” in U.S. politics—an increase in insulting people and dehumanizing, personal attacks. We're raising kids, so avoiding the atmosphere of bullying was important to us. Like many others, we could see the tip of that iceberg that has resulted in the election of Donald Trump.
Admittedly, I didn’t closely follow the Trump campaign. I didn’t listen to his speeches or read his platform, and I ignored the media coverage of his middle-of-the-night tweets.
There’s a common phrase in U.S. politics: “Vote the bastards out!” It indicates a desire to wipe the slate clean and start over with elected officials who aren’t politically connected and are, ideally, more responsive to constituents. This is a way of showing dissatisfaction with the status quo and quickly changing things.
Now I am paying closer attention, and it’s easy to see that Trump, while elected as an outsider, is going to be more of the same but in the worst way.
Corporations have a lot of freedom and power in the U.S. They sometimes use it in ways that subjugate the workers and the environment. The economic advantage for the employer is often at the cost of people’s mental and physical health.
This is what I fear is going to be the real Trump legacy—repealing the laws that protect people and the environment. According to The New York Times, Trump’s Cabinet selections are predicted to yield the richest group ever, many of them rich from exploiting labour and/or the environment.
The long list of Cabinet candidates who have been chosen to take over the US government is already a dystopian nightmare. He’s chosen a staunch opponent of environmental causes to lead the agency set up to protect the environment. Trump’s choice for secretary of state is the former head of Exxon-Mobile. And his shocking candidate to lead education is someone who doesn’t believe in public education, who favours and makes money from schools-for-profit on the backs of children, and who believes guns might belong in schools.
One thing I count on is this: my husband and I moved our family to Canada because it felt right. It’s the right home for us. While Trump-style politics have infiltrated our borders, I remain confident that most Canadians will reject this nonsense, that we will fervently protect our children from a culture of intimidation, that we’ll stand together to safeguard the civil society that makes Canada stand-out internationally, and that we will push back against any threat to our treasured natural spaces that make my adopted country so special to me and to my family.
Kristina Jackson - Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Kristina Jackson is a biologist, activist and mother now happily living with her family in Toronto, Ontario. In 1999, while in graduate school studying wetland restoration, Kristina discovered lasting environmental protection often comes via grassroots action. She has been a volunteer or staffer with Sierra Club ever since.