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Canada won't save you, take it from an expat

It didn't take long. As soon as the Electoral College numbers started shifting in Donald Trump's favour, the big shock was heard around the Twitter world: Canada's Immigration website crashed.

If you're among millions of Americans who feel personally affronted by the fact that the leader of the "Birther" movement will soon call the White House home, you might think the easiest way out is to pack your bags for sunnier (albeit colder) shores up North. Think again.

Take it from an American expat living in London where the City's elites are still in denial over the shock Brexit vote. We might speak a different kind of English than our British cousins and Theresa May might be worlds apart from Donald Trump on several issues, but the reason behind the UK's vote to leave the European Union is rooted in the same language.

Vehicles make their way through the Canadian border crossing in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
Cole Burston | Bloomberg | CNBC
Vehicles make their way through the Canadian border crossing in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

As a West Virginia-born, Michigan native who has been living in London for seven years, I can tell you there is more that unites rustbelt Americans with the auto workers in pro-Brexit Sunderland, England than divides them. And Continental Europe could be next.

On a recent assignment in Paris just days ahaed of the US election, I had the chance to speak with global business leaders about the view from Europe. "Disturbing," "horrifying," "turbulent," were just a few of the choice words uttered on the side-lines of the New York Times Energy for Tomorrow Conference. But sadness, rather than disdain for America's predicament was the overwhelming theme, likely due to the fact that Europe is on guard for populist revolt ahead of key elections in Italy, France and Germany.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Secretary General Ángel Gurría was among those voicing relief that the turbulent US campaign would soon be over.

"But that doesn't solve the underlying problems we have today." Gurria told CNBC.

He suggested that lackluster global growth, declining world trade, and weak lending to small businesses were partly to blame for the "very serious destruction of trust and confidence in the institutions we built over the last 100 years…This is why we lost Brexit, this is why we lost the vote in Colombia, even for the most important decision they had to take in 50 years which is, do you want to keep the peace," Gurria lamented.

Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, who served at the helm of the world's largest food group during the heyday of globalisation, also sounded alarm bells. "It concerns me because I see doubts about our parliamentarian democracy, whether this can really survive in the long term. Populism is nothing else than the sign that something is not working, people have lost the trust."

Something is not working, there is no doubt about it. But Trump is not the problem. He's only an American personification of the problem threatening democracies around the world. That's why packing your bags, swapping your passport and learning to say "Eh?" will get you nowhere. Canada is not an island and it certainly can't build a wall to the South. So if you're feeling disillusioned waking up to the result this morning, get busy doing something about it. As a wise man overheard on the tube said, "Brexit is forever, Donald Trump is only for four years."

Nancy Hungerford is a General Assignment Reporter and Anchor covering corporate, economic and geopolitical events. You can follow her on Twitter @nancycnbc.


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