News / Toronto

After NDP win in Alberta, Toronto leftists joke of Western dreams

“That’s it, I’m moving to Alberta.”

It was a funny joke made by many a left-leaning Torontonians as the NDP cleaned up in the Alberta election.

The joke is a riff on the surprising number of American Republicans who threatened to leave the U.S. for Canada when Barack Obama became president in 2008.

Most didn’t. And, progressive Torontonians aren’t about to take over Alberta now that the Conservatives have been ousted, experts say.

But, an American psychology professor who studied the 2008 moving-to-Canada phenomenon, found there’s an important truth behind the empty threats.

Matt Motyl found that Republican voters were more likely to support the threat to move to Canada, and it was because they felt they didn’t belong where they live.

People are more likely to make a big move within their country if they don’t feel like they’ll have to walk on eggshells when they get there.

It’s all a matter of logic, really.

“If you’re surrounded by people who disagree with you, you’re going to want to move to a place where people don’t disagree with you and tell you your beliefs are wrong or stupid or evil,” said Motyl, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The moves don’t happen overnight after an election. It’s more of a gradual thing that can play out.

The problem with that, Motyl said, is it leads to increased political polarization.

Toronto writer Spencer Gordon got in on the Alberta joke when tweeting: “See ya’ later just moving to Alberta #albertavotes2015.”

He has no plans to actually move, but said he does see Alberta differently after the vote.

Gordon has never been to the province but has friends there who lean to the left, including some who are “just kind of generally weird.”

He’s always worried they’d have a hard time fitting in out West.

“That was my assumption,” he said, “but maybe it was totally wrong.”

More on Metronews.ca