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Let's Give Americans a B.C. Liberty Tour

The Georgia Straight
Shannon Rupp

Bush-mad Yanks need flu shots, medicinal tokes, and orca-viewing; and we need bucks.

To: Tourism B.C.  Re: Liberty Retreats

The time has come to put aside the post-election jokes about our American neighbours and recognize what the George Bush landslide really means for B.C: a tourism windfall.

Yes, it was amusing to contemplate how it's our duty to marry Democrats desperate to live in the land of the sane ( And snicker about how the East and West Coast blue states could separate and join Canada. But we need to get past the schadenfreude. Admit it: we've all been enjoying the laments of those self-satisfied warmongers just a touch too much. It's wrong. Giggling is never the solution. As compassionate neighbours, we need to offer our oppressed friends some respite from life in a theocracy--and not coincidentally, make a few bucks ourselves.

We need to organize Liberty Tour Packages for underprivileged Americans.

Having a healthy tourism industry is all about identifying what is unique about the area and promoting it. B.C. is one of the few spots on the continent where the supposedly American ideal of individual liberty actually took hold. Here, same-sex couples can hold their fantasy weddings, MS sufferers can visit cannabis cafés, and rape victims can exercise a woman's natural right to choice.

The term Club Med could take on a whole new meaning as we organize all-inclusive medical resorts where the Yanks can get those elusive flu shots, reasonably priced pharmaceuticals, and all the other things the Americans' predatory health-care system and repressive social policies have denied them.

Think about what a boon this could be to towns that have been relying on declining industries like forestry and mining. All-in resorts could be tailored to the region, combining progressive perks along with enjoyment of B.C.'s beauty.

Our Freedom Tour philosophy would be to develop these spa/clinic/resorts in places like Fernie, the new Whistler. Ski packages could include vouchers for the in-house smokers' cafés. And what goes together better than marijuana and snowboarders? Maybe we could get someone like Ross Rebagliati to endorse the destination?

Family-oriented packages would be a natural: while gramps tokes up for the glaucoma, the teens would be happy to keep him company, leaving mom and dad some time on the slopes.

With doctors resisting rural postings, our Club Med chain could also provide an incentive to live in the boonies and provide medical care for the locals. Soon, newly minted MDs will be climbing over one another to run these Spa+ practices supported by American tourist dollars.

And let's not forget the psychological damage for Americans who are told they are unworthy of marriage. Freedom Tours would include a wed-and-bed chain: resorts for same-sex couples seeking weddings with a touch of Disneyland for grownups.

Places like the north of Vancouver Island could develop resorts with site-specific fantasy programs. Port Alice, for example, where a bankrupt pulp mill recently put residents out of work, could rejuvenate itself with something like A Port in a Storm: wilderness weddings and honeymoons for American grooms with lumberjack fantasies. This nook of B.C. is also home to the great whale-watching industry, which, while enticing to everyone, has special significance for the gay community since homosexual behaviour is common among the mighty orcas. Talk about a theme wedding: these animals provide spectacular entertainment for guests when they duel playfully with their long... Well, I'm no expert on these things; I just want to get the tourism gurus thinking.

With Bush keen on spending that "political capital" he keeps talking about, American Cassandras predict their next three Supreme Court judge appointments will be used to install reactionaries who will make therapeutic abortion illegal for the first time since 1973. And where do you think folks wanting a choice will be taking a little spa vacation?

Offering reproductive choice could be a growing source of tourism dollars, since abortions are on the increase under Bush's reign. As the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal reported on October 11, Glen Harold Stassen, an ethicist and statistician, came to this ironic conclusion after analyzing the numbers. He attributed it to economic policies that have reduced jobs and health care for many families.

Now, we can't afford to bankroll Americans, but it would be un-Canadian to limit Liberty Tours to the wealthy. The Planned Parenthood Federation says that about 57 percent of the annual one million abortions are sought by poor women. So I suggest we offer getaways with a sliding scale and get some of those wealthy Democrats to subsidize them through a charitable foundation. Think of it as our contribution to establishing universal health care in the land of the no longer free. In fact, that's how we should bill these Made in B.C. resorts: FreedomLand, the Happiest Place on Earth.

18 Nov 2004