ESCAPE TO CANADA (Albert Nerenberg). 82 minutes. Opens Friday (March 10) at the Bloor Cinema. For times, see Indie & Rep Film, page 102. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Escape To Canada sounds like a website set up to help the world's disenfranchised find their way to our sunny, albeit cold, shores. In actuality, it's Albert Nerenberg 's new documentary, a heartfelt ode to freedom Canadian-style.
Multiculturalism? That's so 1970s, dude. What distinguishes us from the Yanks these days is pot, gay marriage and the Iraq war. In the summer of 2003, Ontario legalized same-sex marriage and briefly suspended marijuana possession laws. Nerenberg follows the growth of pot cafés and gay weddings and the influx of Americans wanting to get hitched or high. Shortly thereafter, another group started arriving: U.S. soldiers gone AWOL. An abrupt switch in tone, consistent with this chronology, is a bit jarring.
Still, only the staunchest of fundamentalists could remain unmoved by the tearful joy of couples tying the knot at City Hall. Footage of Stephen Harper valiantly defending "traditional Canadian values" at an anti-same-sex-marriage rally provides an ominous portent of what may be in store when the House resumes sitting next month.
If Nerenberg wanted to make this an important film, instead of just a happy echo chamber, he could have offered some suggestions on how viewers could get involved in these issues. The pot activists suggest everyone open hash bars and grow ops, but we can't all do that.