Baby Sleep

Michael Moore envies Canada — for its chocolate bars

Fahrenheit 11/9 director Michael Moore, a proud American feeling Trumped by political misfortune, is lamenting his lack of dual citizenship with Canada when I meet him during the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

“My grandfather was Canadian,” the moviemaker from Flint, Mich., says by way of a greeting, as he works through a series of press interviews in a hotel lobby restaurant.

“Why can’t I get some kind of papers? As a back-up! Can we get a campaign going in this country to fight on my behalf? They don’t have to give me a passport. Just give me some kind of thing where I don’t have to do a Handmaid’s Tale run into this country!”

He admits his desire to be at one with Canada isn’t entirely motivated by his intense dislike of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, whose unlikely rise to power is examined and excoriated in Fahrenheit 11/9, the inflammatory new Moore documentary that opens wide Friday.

Seems Moore, 64, has long been jealous about our chocolate bars — especially Coffee Crisp, which he can’t obtain stateside.

“Man, what can we do to get Coffee Crisp in the United States? What is wrong with us that we don’t have that yet? Something’s wrong with that. You also invented the Kit Kat. When we would go to Canada to visit the relatives, they had these Kit Kats. You have made contributions to the world!”

(Nerd alert: Kit Kat bars were invented in the U.K., not Canada, if Wikipedia is to be believed.)

Read more:

Review | Fahrenheit 11/9 lets Trump-era ‘WTF?’ give way to hope

In the more than 20 years I’ve been interviewing Moore, he’s always expressed a fondness for Canada and Canadians. His knowledge of this country’s people, history and politics is better than that of any other American I’ve ever met.

And on this occasion, he seems genuinely embarrassed about his own country, which has lost considerable international prestige under the shock-a-minute rule of Trump, a reality TV star who became president largely by accident — and also because 100 million Americans chose not to vote, a lamentable fact Moore underlines in his doc. The central message of Fahrenheit 11/9 is warning people about the dangers of complacency.

Moore still loves the U.S., especially his home state. For this interview, he sports a baseball cap from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a nature preserve on Lake Michigan that bills itself as “America’s Most Beautiful Place.”

But he’s dismayed by how few of his fellow Americans seem to realize what Trump is really up to, which is to turn back the clock on social advances of the past 50 years.

Everybody is distracted by Trump’s outrageous tweets or vainly hoping the ongoing investigation into Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, will lead to Trump being impeached — and that isn’t going to happen, says Moore, who was among the few public figures on the political left who correctly predicted Trump would defeat Hillary Clinton and become president.

Moore calls Trump the “master distractor” and he almost seems to admire how the man gets away with saying and doing so many outrageous things. Trump is constantly spinning falsehoods but it’s always from the point of view his own version of reality.

“He’s always telling you the truth,” Moore asserts. “When he says what he’s going to do, he is telling you this is what he’s going to do. Nobody wants to hear it. They just say, ‘Oh, he’s crazy!’ And then we lose all that time to figure out how to fight him, because we’ve spent time laughing at him, just saying he’s crazy, or expecting the special prosecutor’s going to haul him out of there. Not going to happen!”

As an example of his diabolical methods, Moore points to the ongoing allegation that Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. It came as neither a surprise nor an embarrassment for a president who knows no shame.

“I think he leaked the Stormy Daniels story. Because he knows his base: 64 percent of white men voted for him. What do you think they think when they hear he got to have sex with a porn star? He knows how beautiful that is for him. Any American journalist in New York will tell you that he’s a master leaker. He loves leaking stuff about himself and about other people. He’s played the press for a long time in New York, played them really well.”

I ask Moore if he thinks Americans will get tired of getting played by Trump.

“Yeah, at some point they will. One of the good things about us is we eventually come around. The problem is we are slow learners. Look at all these little things you guys (Canadians) do first. Whether it’s gay marriage or marijuana or whatever … we will follow you. Eventually. But it’s got to be frustrating to look at it from afar, and to see how long it takes us.”

He has timed the wide release of Fahrenheit 11/9 so that it might have the maximum impact on voters prior to this fall’s midterm elections stateside. He hopes the Democrats gain enough electoral ground on Trump and his Republicans to stop some of the more right-wing legislation being planned, such as a repeal of the Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling.

But the Democrats really need to focus on the 2020 presidential election, Moore says, and to find a candidate who can defeat Trump.

“I think a lot of people came out to vote for Trump because he was different. And Hillary was not different. She was the same old thing,” Moore says.

“The Democrats are going to have to run a beloved American who is going to inspire them to get out and vote, if they’re going to win.”

Maybe the Democrats should seriously go for a showbiz personality, to fight fire with fire?

“Yeah, why not? What’s wrong with that? Why don’t the Democrats think that way? It’s so funny: Republicans spend all this energy mocking and criticizing Democrats for being Hollywood elitists, but the Republicans run celebrities all the time — Reagan, Trump and Gopher (Fred Grandy) from The Love Boat, who became a congressman from Iowa. The Democrats say, ‘Oh, no, we want someone thoughtful and somebody who is part of the system.’ Great! Run Joe Biden. See what happens.”

Moore is being serious, and he’s seriously concerned about his country. If things don’t go his way soon, I may have to send him a case of Coffee Crisp as a consolation prize.

Peter Howell is the Star’s movie critic based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @peterhowellfilm