OTTAWA — Canada’s diplomats will be ready to help Canadians living south of the border if there’s trouble in the United States after election day, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Tuesday.

“It is absolutely a responsibility of our government to be there for Canadians outside our country, and we will be there for them, too,” Freeland said.

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It’s up to Americans to decide who will lead them, and up to Canada to deal with whoever American voters select, she said. Canada has a plan no matter what happens, Freeland said. 

“Our federal government is absolutely ready. We have thoughtfully prepared for all eventualities,” she said.

Some observers of the U.S. presidential election expect that late-counted votes could mean the outcome is still uncertain by the end of the night, with final tallies taking days or even weeks in some states.


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In the polarized American political environment, which saw clashes between demonstrators and police in many cities earlier this year, that could potentially lead to civil unrest.

Across the U.S., photos surfaced of main-street shops streets boarding up their windows in possible preparation for the worst.

Quebec-born Daneet Brill, who now lives in Connecticut, said late Tuesday she has family in Brooklyn, N.Y., prepared to flee their home and come to hers if the worst happens. 

That’s not something she ever expected to need to prepare for in America, Brill said. 

But she said while the threat of violence is concerning, so too is the political polarization of the country. 

Brill said she used to take pride in her Canadian approach of being tolerant and respectful of everyone’s political views but struggles with those who continue to support Trump and what it means for the future of her adopted country. 

“It scares me as an educator, it scares me as a mother, it scares me as a citizen of the United States,” she said.

“Whether it’s a Republican or Democrat president, it’s never caused me any anxiety before but now it does.” 

Still, she’s unlikely to uproot her family and head back to Canada, she said, though her mother has joked the basement is ready. 

“I don’t feel like I want to give up on living in the United States,” she said.

“There could be great things that happen in this country.” 

There are an estimated 800,000 Canadians living in the U.S., among them numerous actors and athletes who have, to varying degrees, engaged in the election. 

Earlier this week, hockey great Bobby Orr endorsed U.S. President Donald Trump in a full-page newspaper ad, a move that had some critics suggesting athletes should stay out of politics.

Actor Seth Rogen, who is from Vancouver but is a dual citizen, was among the dozens of celebrities leading get-out-the-vote efforts in recent days, including a video posted online urging citizens to cast their ballot. 

One impact of the last four years of Trump administration has been a decline in the number of Canadians moving to the U.S.

Research from the Association for Canadian Studies shows that since 2016, there’s been a 25 per cent drop in emigration to the U.S. from Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2020.

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