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Edward Snowden, you could call Canada home

June 24, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • Yes, it rains in Halifax. But the Canadian city is also a friendly place.
Yes, it rains in Halifax. But the Canadian city is also a friendly place. (Devaan Ingraham / Associated…)

Where’s Edward Snowden?

Certainly I don’t know; apparently, neither does the U.S. government, which wants to bring the leaker/whistle-blower/traitor/hero home to face the music for blowing the lid on the NSA’s secret surveillance program. The Times on Sunday said he had fled Hong Kong for parts relatively unknown but said to include Russia, Cuba and Venezuela, with the ultimate destination Ecuador.

Now, not to be a travel agent or anything, but Eddie my boy, you’re heading too far south. The place for you is a haven as old as the Vietnam War: Canada. Or, more specifically, Nova Scotia. (For the geographically challenged among you, it’s on the far eastern coast; think Maine but in Canada.)

Having just spent more than a week there, I can tell you, Eddie, that you’ll be made to feel more than welcome. The Haligonians (that’s what the people from Halifax, the provincial capital, call themselves; apparently, Halifaxians sounded too much like a Xerox ad) are, hands down, the friendliest, most courteous bunch of folks you’ll ever meet.

Yes, true, the U.S. and Canada have extradition treaties. But I’m not sure the Canadians are all that interested in enforcing them. (Remember all the Vietnam-era draft dodgers? Think they were frog-marched back over the border? Nope.) Plus, even if the Canadian government wants you out, the Haligonians are so polite that it’ll be years before they get around to mentioning that you have to go home.

In fact, they’re so polite, it’s as if they’re competing to see who can outpolite whom. Cars stop for every pedestrian, in a crosswalk or not. Drivers stop mid-street to let other drivers turn, or just to join the traffic flow. I don’t know if their cars even have horns; certainly no one ever uses one. It's a "Twilight Zone"-like reverse parallel universe to Los Angeles or New York.

You a coffee drinker, Eddie? There’s a chain called Tim Hortons; named for a hockey player, of course; cheaper and less pretentious than Starbucks; serves great coffee; and there’s one on practically every corner. (Insider's tip: Go for the regular coffee with a shot of espresso for just 60 cents more!) 

But don’t worry about money: Canadian money looks and feels almost exactly like ours, except there are no pesky pennies and dollar bills. Also, if you don’t have Canadian, they’re happy to take U.S.

OK, I know, Eddie, you’re thinking it’s the sticks, Halifax and Nova Scotia. But no! There’s plenty to do.

The world-famous Bay of Fundy and its tides are at your doorstep. In fact, the surge is so great, you can shoot the tidal bore in a raft, just like river rapids.  

Or if you’re feeling nostalgic, visit the cemetery and see the graves of some of those unfortunate souls who went down on the Titanic. OK, might be a tad morbid, symbolically, for you, considering your situation.

So go check out the citadel in downtown Nova Scotia and its 17th century English fort; or Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, which was the French fort of the era. Heck, if you need a job, you might hook on for the summer as one of the reenactors!

Oh, and if you get to Cape Breton, be sure and see the Alexander Graham Bell museum. Did you know he was a vagabond too? Turns out the inventor of the telephone was a Scot who liked to summer in Canada.

And if you’re feeling a bit blue or even sorry for yourself, go to the miner’s museum in Glace Bay; take the tour, led by a real miner; he’ll take you into a former mine. Trust me, one look at how hard those guys worked and what they endured and you’ll have a whole new outlook on life.

So forget Ecuador, Eddie. I’m telling you, go north, young man (or is that north by northwest?) Nova Scotia’s the place for you.

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