Cerabino: Weak on borders? Letting the Canadians stay in Florida


I know the news has been crazy lately, and the last thing you need right now is one more bizarre news story, but that’s why I’m here.

It turns out Florida’s two U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, have put aside their political differences to co-sponsor a bill that would allow older Canadians to vacation in Florida for eight months a year, instead of six.

I was hoping this was some kind of a misunderstanding, and that Rubio or Nelson would hold a clarification session that would make clear that they misspoke about wanting Canadians here for 240 days a year.

I was waiting for them to admit that they meant to say that Canadians “couldn’t” — not “could” — stay for an two extra months every year.

“We want to make it clear,” they would say in a subsequent joint statement. “There’s no collusion with Canada.”

And then we’d all believe them, because we’ve grown very used to magical retractions, and go back to thinking about Saharan dust, fish-killing algae blooms and shade to stand in.

But no, this is a real bill. If you’re Canadian and over the age of 50, we want you to stay in Florida a little longer. At least, that’s the intent of this bill.

“It’s no secret that Canadians love to visit Florida in the winter,” Nelson said. “The millions of Canadian snowbirds who visit our state each year play an important role in our state’s tourism-driven economy. Allowing them to stay even longer is a win for them and for the local economies they visit.”

The key word in that statement is “winter.” Canadians like to come here in the winter. That’s why we call them “snowbirds.”

I don’t know what makes us think they’d feel like “winners” by staying here into the late spring or early summer. I guess this means we’ll have to start calling them “highs-near-90-chance-of-afternoon-showers-birds.”

And we’ll need to add a poutine shack at SunFest.

Those extra two months for snowbirds would coincide with the time of year we locals start thinking of escaping South Florida, which makes me think this idea could be some sort of elaborate, international Airbnb house-swap plan.

Except that I don’t see the upside for Canadians looking to volunteer in droves to linger here during the mean season. They still won’t be allowed to work or collect public assistance.

It makes more sense that this is a harebrained plan executed at the behest the powerful Golden Corral lobby in Washington, D.C., and a demonstration of the behind-the-scenes political might of Big Buffet.

That explains why we’re only looking for Canadians who are over 50. I’ll admit, you’ve got to watch out for those younger Canadians, if there is such a thing. (I’ve lived here for four decades and I’ve yet to see a Canadian under the age of 50.)

But clearly, they are part of a new troublesome lot, as evidenced by their youthful leader, the 46-year-old Justin Trudeau, who has earned himself “a special place in hell,” according to our president’s economic adviser, for not welcoming American tariffs on his people.

Whatever the intent of the bill, it needs a sweetener for us.

I don’t know why we’d take Canada’s older citizens off their hands for two extra months a year without getting something from Canada in return. Further negotiations may be called for here.

OK, we could say, we’re willing to park your 50-and-overs in South Florida until June, but you’ve got to allow in more American milk or wheat.

It could be done on a mathematical basis. We’ll take “x” number of extended-stay Canadian retirees in Florida for every ton or wheat or gallons of milk you accept in return from us.

The details would be spelled out in The Briny Breezes Accord.



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