If Trump wins, I’m moving (my data center) to Canada

Written by Mike Segal | ~4 min

Each presidential election, liberal Americans love to pledge that if the Republican candidate wins, they will pack their bags and move to Canada. But the nomination of Donald Trump has turned this commitment into its own cottage industry, with Rolling Stone publishing a helpful how-to guide and Spotify curating a special “Moving to Canada” playlist.

With Google searches for “how to move to Canada” surging, Cape Breton Island has managed to leverage anti-Trump fervour by launching a tourism campaign aimed at attracting election weary Americans.

But it’s not just Democrats that are looking to head to cooler pastures north of the 49th parallel. A number of trends are leading Canada to look increasingly favourable to executives considering moving or expanding DC operations in North America.

Taking a page out of Cape Breton’s playbook, here’s why it’s time to migrate data centers to our home and native land, no matter who sits in the White House come next January.

Your data is safe with me

From Hilary Clinton’s private email server to Russian hacks of the Democratic National Committee, data security has for the first (and I expect not last) time become a major campaign issue. But the issue has been front of mind for years for data center customers concerned about US privacy laws.

The Patriot Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2001, and which lead to mass surveillance by the NSA, has handicapped American tech companies on the global market. Leading the charge was Microsoft, with general counsel Brad Smith bemoaning that “people won’t use technology they don’t trust.”

Some data centers have already excluded doing business in the US specifically for privacy concerns.

“We care about our customers’ privacy,” wrote Clément Nivolle, head of marketing at Clever Cloud announcing the launch of their North American DC operations in Montreal. “We have selected [Montreal] because it is Patriot Act-free, and Canada has IP laws to protect your data.”

Canada, with its far stricter privacy laws, now looks even more attractive to international clientele with the European Union’s top court striking down Safe Harbor legislation which governed the transfer of data between the US and EU. Due to excessive government snooping, the European Court of Justice ruled that companies could no longer transfer EU citizens’ personal data to the US.

Cheaper, cooler, better

Canadians have long taken exception to Americans’ image of our country as a frozen wasteland. But for the data center industry, there is an upside to embracing our igloo-dwelling stereotype. Indeed, for medium and large-scale power consumers, the difference between an energy bill in Montreal and New York can mean the difference between investing and scaling back, profit and loss.

With the cheapest energy rates in eastern North America and a cool climate, Montreal affords a unique opportunity to customers looking for a cost-effective, sustainable DC environment.

For customers looking to cut down on one of their largest operating costs, the low cost and renewable hydro-electric power combined with the prospect of free cooling over 90 per cent of the year is hard to resist.

True north strong and free markets

Think of Canada as socialist leaning and America as the land unrestrained capitalism? Then you agree with conventional wisdom on both sides of the border. You’re also wrong. In fact, Canada outranks the so-called land of opportunity on every major survey measuring business and economic freedom including these from Forbes, Bloomberg, KPMG, the Heritage Foundation and the Fraser Institute.

More recently, the crash of the price of oil and subsequent drop in the loonie has made Canada a greater value proposition for foreign investment – co-location included.

With an wild election finally coming to an end, we are willing to make at least one prediction; regardless of the results, it won’t just be people looking to move north, but data centers – and their customers too.


Mike Segal is the VP of International Business Development at ROOT Data Center, a next-generation colocation company focused on helping IT organizations outperform and outcompete within their markets.