They don't look like refugees. Hey, they don't even look like foreigners. But Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, John Candy, Alex Trebek, Rick Moranis, Wayne Gretzky, Martin Short, Joni Mitchell and the other million or so Snowbirds who have transformed Los Angeles into the world's fourth-largest Canadian metropolis may soon become celebs without a country. The True North Strong and Free, its cultural and political pundits say, may be breathing its last.
After last year's constitutional debacle, Canadians are finding it difficult to keep their country intact. Quebec is threatening to bolt the Confederation again, and this time a majority of Angst-ridden, English-speaking Canadians appears inclined to let it go. The anticipated result will be a politically independent Quebec and a Balkanized series of Canadian regions, some of them gravitating toward statehood, possibly before the next century.
In Southern California, there's a Canada-California Chamber of Commerce, a Royal Canadian Legion, a Canada Day picnic, Norman Jewison's annual Canada Day party and restaurants that serve genuine Montreal smoked-meat sandwiches. But Canadian national pride is lukewarm in the Southland--most do not attend hockey games, watch CBC News, or know the words to Gordon Lightfoot's "Canadian Railroad Trilogy."
"I'm not sure I'd accept the premise that Canada's going down the drain," says Trebek, host of television's "Jeopardy!" "But I'm very pro United States. It wouldn't grieve me to consider a merger that would bring Canada into the U.S. I suspect a lot of people would be disappointed if Canada broke apart, but it wouldn't affect their lifestyles one iota."
Certainly not enough to induce those who've settled here to head across the border.
"It's too cold up there, and getting colder," says a Canadian cardiologist now working in Los Angeles. "The blood thins after a few years here, which in my line of business is a good thing."