In an article for the Vancouver Sun, Douglas Todd explores the ambiguities of life and self-identity for what he calls “Ameri-Canadians”. I have long maintained that Canadians of American origin are Canada’s largely “invisible minority”. Now, post-FATCA, we are being forced to reconsider not only our relationships with two different nation-states but also within our communities, our families and our very souls. Todd covers an equally wide scope in his thought-provoking commentary:
With the Canadian government’s decision to comply in July with a Washington tax crackdown on “U.S. persons” around the world, many Ameri-Canadians are feeling rising anger, fear and even hatred toward their powerful country of origin.
That said, the self-identities of Americans in Canada have been more ambiguous than they tend to be for members of more visible immigrant groups, long before the U.S. began its notorious attempt to catch tax cheaters through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, better known as FATCA. The U.S. is the only major country to tax based on citizenship, not residency.
Canada has for centuries provided a haven for millions of Americans and their descendants, including the United Empire Loyalists who fled persecution during the 18th-century American Revolution, blacks escaping from slavery during the 19th century and draft resisters protesting the Vietnam War in the 20th century. Such Ameri-Canadians have tended to blend into this northern country.
“The American-born and American-descended in Canada have never felt organized as a self-conscious ethnic group, chiefly because Americans have never felt terribly ‘foreign’ in Canada and can usually find their American identification so easily,” University of Montreal scholar Lise Maisonneuve writes in The Canadian Encyclopedia.
“At the same time, the sense of a vague hostility to Americans within Canadian society has also helped reduce overt displays of American consciousness.”
Now, open displays of American pride in Canada are becoming even less likely as Ameri-Canadians seek shelter from the long reach of FATCA.