Tech conferences are relocating from the USA to Canada to attract attendees and speakers who don't want to come to Trump's America

Originally published at:


And don’t think it isn’t putting a thumb on the scales for Amazon HQ2.


Well, the obvious solution is to leverage USA’s sources of “hard power” to reverse this trend.
Coming up soon: The Gitmo International Conference Center.


The major conference in my own field of scientific endeavour has stopped going the the US. We all got tired of people standing up to give someone else’s presentation, apologising that the original author could get a visa. My research field is very heavily represented in the US, and our international society is based there, but the conference isn’t going back for at least the next 6 years (as far ahead as they have planned, I think). I can’t say I’m sorry.


once you try our butter tarts there’s no going back


Cory, the Canadian Border Services people are angels when you compare them to their American counterparts. Despite meeting all the demographics for a low threat level, US Immigration on occasion will pull us aside, conduct a hostile interview and thoroughly search my little old Corolla and waste an hour of our time, unhappily letting us go when we cooperate completely and they can’t find anything in the car.
The only time I’ve seen anyone have problems with the Canadian counterparts at the border is when there’s a lot of attitude displayed by the person entering the country or when they have all the signs of being sketchy.

1 Like

Good. We don’t need them eggheads anyway. We got assault rifles.


Canada is denying Americans entry because of DUI convictions or marijuana convictions (which is mind blowing, since Canada is considering legalizing pot this year.)


1 Like

A large number of my colleagues are no longer submitting to conferences hosted in America. It’s bad enough for a middle-aged, English-speaking white guy with a clean record; colleagues with differing ethnicities, religions or sexualities aren’t prepared to risk being abused by US border agents - assuming they don’t get randomly denied a visa (I see GyroMagician has seen the same problem).

As for taking a holiday in the US, I’m afraid it keeps dropping lower down the list of places I want to visit. Love it when I’m there, just too much hassle getting into the country these days. It’s time the US tourist industry had a not-so-quiet word with the government about the damage being done to America’s image overseas.


I don’t doubt this, but:

I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture. I’m glad that’s been your experience, but I’ve had the experience of watching some Mexican vacationers and some Australian vacationers sitting near each other on a train. The treatment was not at all similar.

I don’t think we need a citation for this. This is the law in Canada. If it’s not exercised 100% of the time, it surely is exercises some of the time.

The flip side of that is:

We will stop denying entry for marijuana use as soon as it is legal in Canada. Canada’s law that denies entry for criminal behaviour requires that Canada have a similar criminal law. Though if you are just commenting on the bizarre times we are in now when we all know that pot is going to be legal but it’s still illegal, I mean, it’s just dumb. They ought to have stricken the criminal law in a one page bill as their first act as government.


the market has spoken!


I was denied entry to Canada because of a past conviction. Of course, then they gave me a free ride on Air Canada back to Texas.

The prohibition on US entrants with DUIs has been the law for over 30 years (when I first moved to Canada as a grad student). It came up again in the early 2000s because neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney would normally have been eligible to be admitted to Canada as visitors due to their DUIs.

I see someone else down thread has addressed the marijuana issue, that’s not something I’ve seen enforced, but I was always glad that Canada treated DUI more seriously than the US


They’ve always been nice - nicer than the Americans - but they can be a little self hating though.

One once questioned why I would stay a few extra days after a conference in Toronto. (Asked dates of conference + when I planned to leave Canada, noticed the discrepancy)

After expressing incredulity someone would visit Toronto for tourism and asking what I planned to do, listing off things I planned to do (Second City, Royal Ontario Museum, get some good food in Chinatown) he seemed satisfied.

It was all polite but it was really stressful trying not to laugh in a border guard’s face when he goes “Who comes to Toronto for tourism?!”

(I can assure you laughing at the police has never been a winning strategy in my experience)


In my previous line of work I once declined to go to the USA for a conference. While it created a fuss I had several colleagues who understood/supported my decision.

Once in a while my SO, friends or family asks about me going/joining on a holiday to USA. I always explain that I’m not feeling safe in the US (rule of law, healthcare, arbitrariness, guns, healthcare).

Even if I were willing to go I probably won’t get admitted after stating my critical opinion about the USA here on BB and on other online venues.

1 Like

I travel around the world a couple of times a year to some specific tech conferences, and I’ve boycotted the States on principle since the post-9/11-TSA BS started. And it’s not 'coz I personally come form a place they’d have an issue with, it’s solidarity (and self-respect). So although “Trumps America” is indeed 3x more distasteful than that, I’m long past my tipping point on that.

But from TFA:

I was sitting in on an organising committee for our 'Con (annually, held in the US, Europe, and one other region when things go well), and they informed us that there was NO WAY Canada would ever get a chance to host due to the general dearth of passport-holders in the US. Apparently, it would be financially crippling to try and do a North American version of the event that would be self-selected to only the USians that could get it together to travel outside of their country. It was sadly enlightening.

So I think there are actually logistic/economic reasons why ‘just’ crossing a border would be prohibitive to getting the numbers together for some types of conference.


This has been the case for things like AIDS conferences and drug policy conferences for decades - the former due to Reagan’s ban on people with HIV entering the country (now rescinded, but as you say, there’s lots of inertia…) and the latter because it’s hard to talk meaningfully about drug policy without drug users involved, and you can’t enter the US with a drug conviction no matter how ancient or trivial.

Yeah, that’s not a good mindset for a holiday. If you come to the US expecting to be shot or laid-up in a hospital at any given moment you probably won’t have a good time. I have family members who have recently developed similar fears about traveling to Mexico due to the violence there but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

1 Like

After expressing incredulity someone would visit Toronto for tourism and asking what I planned to do, listing off things I planned to do (Second City, Royal Ontario Museum, get some good food in Chinatown) he seemed satisfied.

I had a similar experience with an American border guard when driving in to the US to visit the North Dakota State Fair. “You’re here for the state fair? Why?”.

Of course, AFTER visiting the fair, I have to admit he kind of had a point.