Americans may be taking an invitation to move to Canada seriously if Donald Trump is elected president.
Interest in Cape Breton spiked just a week after a Canadian radio host created a website called “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins.”
Rob Calabrese, 39, made the website on Feb. 15 to pitch the Nova Scotian island as a perfect escape from a Trump presidency.
“Hi Americans! Donald Trump may become the president of your country! If that happens, and you decide to get the hell out of there, might I suggest moving to Cape Breton Island,” a statement on the website says.
Calabrese describes the island as a place “where women can get abortions, Muslim people can roam freely, and the only ‘walls’ are holding up the roofs of our extremely affordable houses,” directly contrasting some of Trump’s political positions.
And his pitch resonated with some.
According to Point2 Homes, a real estate search portal, visits on its Cape Breton listing pages went over 50,000 on Friday, four days after the launch, and stayed between 20,000 and 50,000 during the weekend. Of those visits, 85 percent came from the United States, the company said.
RE/MAX, a real estate company with four offices on Cape Breton, also saw some increased interest on its website this past week.
“We have had direct inquiries of interest in particular properties as a result of this website,” Valarie Sampson, a RE/MAX broker said in an email. “This particular website, in my opinion, has tweaked an interest in the purchase of summer getaways.”
Calabrese said he received more than 2,000 messages before he removed the contact page from the website, and he has even received emails on his personal account.
“I have actually had to take this week off work just to address media inquiries and return emails,” he said in an email. “I do this with pleasure though, as the exposure this has created for Cape Breton is of incalculable value to tourism and immigration.”
The current message on the website thanks people for their interest in the island and clarifies that anyone is welcome on the island.
“We welcome all, no matter who you support, be it Democrat, Republican or Donald Trump,” Calabrese says on the site.
Calabrese points to low population as a reason for wanting to welcome new people. According to a Cape Breton news report in March 2014, the population was around 100,000 and was expected to decrease by 1 percent each year.
In the FAQ section of the site, Calabrese admits Cape Breton’s economy is not as strong as it used to be and unemployment is high, but he says new tech businesses are starting up on the island.
He also highlights the island’s diversity, where languages including French, Mi’kmaq (a language spoken by the region’s indigenous people) and Gaelic are spoken in addition to English.
The website provides information about attractions of the island, links to job postings, how to immigrate to Canada and become a dual citizen, and on benefits and housing listings.