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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 November, 2004, 01:23 GMT
US vote boosts interest in Canada
President George W Bush
Will President Bush be waving goodbye to despondent Democrats?
Canadian immigration officials said the number of US citizens visiting their website went up six-fold the day after the US election.

Their website is normally visited by some 20,000 people but that figure rocketed to 115,016 on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported.

The figure dropped on Thursday but was still higher than normal, at 65,803.

There was speculation that Democrats fed up with George W Bush's win were thinking of moving over the border.

The idea of disgruntled Americans wishing to emigrate north across the border has amused Canadians.

One commentator, Thane Burnett, wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to possible new citizens.

"As Canadians, you'll have to learn to embrace and use all the products and cultures of Americans, while bad-mouthing their way of life," he wrote in the Ottawa Sun newspaper.

Hundreds of Canadians have also signed up to a satirical website urging them to do their bit and marry an American.

"Open your heart, and your home. Marry an American," AFP news agency quotes www.marryanamerican.ca as saying.

"Legions of Canadians have already pledged to sacrifice their singlehood to save their southern neighbours from four more years of cowboy conservatism."

New high

"When we looked at the first day after the election... our website hit a new high, almost double the previous record high," said Immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi.

Canada has a large-scale immigration policy, and Ms Iadinardi said Canada would welcome all new applicants - whether they be Democrats or Republicans.

Gay couple in San Francisco
Canada may prove attractive to gay couples in the US
"Let's face it, we have a population of little over 32 million and we definitely need permanent residents to come to Canada," she was quoted by Reuters as saying.

But she said it would take about six months to find out if there had been an increase in applications.

"There is no unusual activity occurring at our visa missions (in the US). Having someone who intends to come to Canada is not the same as someone actually putting in an application," she said.

Canada could find itself attracting more gay couples from the US after a Saskatchewan court ruled in favour of homosexual marriages on Friday.

The prairie province joins five other provinces and one territory in Canada by declaring existing marriage laws discriminate against gay couples and are unconstitutional.

Earlier this week, 11 US states voted to ban gay marriage in referendums held on the same night as the election.

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