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Having endured the outrages of the 2000 presidential "election" and the 9/11-empowered Republicans' reactionary policies, progressive Democrats, Greens and Independents across the United States are smouldering. Especially in the 20 states that went for Al Gore in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, more and more of us are appalled by the combination of dishonest rhetoric, regressive tax giveaways, international adventurism, environmental degradation and unprecedented arrogance spewing from the President and his congressional cohorts.

We look to Washington and hear -- rather than solutions for pressing problems -- little but sound bites and lies, the all-too-familiar litany about weapon-finding, children leaving, job growing, tax cutting, Arctic drilling, missile defending, and terrorist hunting.

In stunned disbelief, we have signed petitions, given money to progressive causes, and joined street protests. But arghhh! and aarghhh! again, many of us have had it. We're fed up and need to move on -- or out. But where to go?

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A map of the state-by-state voting in 2000 suggests the obvious answer. With the anomalous and proud exception of New Mexico, Gore states are contiguous either to Canada or to other Gore states. In the most peaceful and democratic way, without invoking images of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, these states need to secede from the Union, reform into provinces and join Canada.

As soon as one considers the idea, the advantages become obvious. Citizens of the new Canadian provinces would enjoy basic entitlements and benefits unheard of in the U.S., including: universal health care; good and affordable colleges and universities; good mass transit in major cities; lower rates of violent crime and pollution; affordable prescription drugs; and enhanced respect for the civil rights of all people, including gays and lesbians.

And this is just the beginning. Imagine the efficiencies of scale that will result from combining several states, with their redundant and quarrelsome governments, into single provinces. Through a process of state-by-state referendums, California, Oregon and Washington could reform into Naturia; New England (minus the odious New Hampshire) could reform into Nontario; Wisconsin, Minnesota,

Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois could become Coolcentria; while the eastern states between New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., could become

Atlantica.

The fact that the U.S. capital had the good sense to back Al Gore and will, thus, need to join Canada under this plan is, admittedly, an awkward detail in need of negotiation. No doubt the Bush diplomats who are making such impressive progress on an Israeli-Palestinian deal will be able to apply what they've learned in solving the Jerusalem dilemma to this problem.

Alluding to the Middle East reminds us of one of the greatest benefits of joining Canada, a nation that has far fewer enemies than the United States. After declaring their affiliation with a country that respects the United Nations Charter, the newly created provinces would be far less likely to draw the wrath of international terrorists.

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On purely aesthetic grounds, the benefits are enormous. We new Canadians will (shortly) acquire a national leader capable of producing coherent sentences in at least two languages. We will leave behind a U.S. composed of increasingly polluted semi-tropical and desert states inhabited by citizens hell-bent on posting the Ten Commandments in public washrooms, installing a Star Wars defence system around fast-food restaurants, and generally doing what they can to bring on the Apocalypse. Meanwhile, we new Canadians will look north to vast, undeveloped lands where animals roam and cool breezes waft down from the Arctic. Henceforth, our musically challenged children will sing not the incomprehensible and operatic Star Spangled Banner but the rousing anthem O Canada.

And just imagine what it will be like not to wake up every morning to the news that your federal government has subverted another international treaty, undermined another environmental protection, given another tax refund to the wealthy or invaded another defenceless country. To be citizens once more of a nation at peace with the world and committed to social justice and environmental conservation.

Ah, America.

O, Canada!

Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, teaches courses on American literature and culture.

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