Escape to Canada Albert Nerenberg

Canada has gay marriage and is threatening to decriminalise pot; this makes us better than the Americans. Duly noted, but once you’ve read that sentence you pretty much divest yourself of the need to see Escape to Canada, which engages in the second national pastime after hockey: smug self-regard. The documentary begins in 2003 when to the world’s surprise, Canada semi-legalises pot and legitimises gay marriage on the same day; the film then goes through the motions of following the legal and social ramifications of such changes. The influx of gay Americans yearning to be freer than in the land of the free is indeed touching, as is the saga of the ludicrous rigmarole pot users must endure once Canada institutes a medical marijuana policy and makes recreational use illegal again. But though the struggle for the spliff is rather interesting, the ultimate purpose of the documentary is to make Canadians feel high and mighty about our perceived superiority. Not only is this untenable when the film turns its attention to American soldiers avoiding the Iraq war (that Afghanistan thing is, apparently, just a hiccup) but it allows people to relax and think that there are no real problems in our country — a self-deluding lie that papers over the real issues that face Canadians. Though the film doesn’t flinch at rendering the lunacy of the marijuana laws, it then contradicts itself by insisting that a country that is persecuting pot users is still better than America, which may be true but not by as much as I’d like. Any marginally well-informed person doesn’t need this film. Still, if you like the movie’s idea there’s plenty of it: the disc includes 100 minutes of bonus footage and extended interviews, 20 minutes more than the movie proper, including a talk with marijuana martyr Tommy Chong. (Disinformation)