Canada’s Wildfire Smoke Is Making It the Target of America’s Wrath

Normally under-the-radar, Canada is at the center of wildfire conspiracies that include cults, Justin Trudeau, and female firefighters.
New York Post Canada wildfire
Thursday's New York Post. Photo by Manisha Krishnan

Canadians are used to referring to their southern neighbor as a dumpster fire due to, well, everything, but the tables turned this week when Canada’s out-of-control forest fires essentially hotboxed parts of the Midwest and Northeast.  

The result? New York City, covered in a thick orange haze, had the worst air quality in the world and Americans united around a new common enemy. 

“Blame Canada!” screamed the New York Post’s headline, adding “Canuck wildfires plunge NYC into eerie, smoky hell.”


The headline is a nod to a song from the 1999 classic film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. And, lucky us, the co-writer of that hit just dropped a 2023 wildfire remix, noting “it seems our friends up in Quebec have made Manhattan a stinking wreck.”  

Wildfire season was early and aggressive in Canada this year, and has so far burned 3.8 million hectares, with the worst blazes in Quebec and Nova Scotia; heavy wind patterns are blowing the smoke down south. As such, both the great outdoors and Canada’s mentions are a mess, the hostility towards the normally under-the-radar nation as palpable as the pungent smoke. 

“New York has the worst air quality in history due to wildfires from Climate Cult Canada,” tweeted far-right Republican Rep. ​​Marjorie Taylor Greene. Speaking of conspiracies, some people who really, really need to log off believe that Canada is lighting itself on fire so Trudeau can force as many people as possible into “15-minute cities.” 

“Are the fires being started to usher in climate lockdowns?” asked a Twitter user who goes by the very legit-sounding name “TruthWarriorDad.” 

A self-described “political strategist” who seems to spend most of his time getting dragged on Twitter, got in on the action by declaring the wildfires an “act of war.” 


“Where’s AOC tweeting about how Trudeau has committed an act of war?” he tweeted as yet another man with far too many Twitter followers decided that the true culprit behind the fires is Canadian women.

“Half the country is covered in toxic smoke, because Canadian FEMALE firefighters wanted to ‘break down barriers in [a] male-dominated industry,’” he tweeted. 

The list of dumb conspiracies and posts about the fires goes on and on and was meticulously documented by Rolling Stone

But what about random New York City “tough guys”, you ask? How are they coping? Well, this one threatened to sue Canada over the smoke. 

“You want to send smog our way? You believe these guys in Canada?,” he said, bragging about his lung capacity as he half-walked, half-danced down the street. “It’s smoky as can be over here bro, I’m sucking in, I’m blowing smoke rings like I’m smoking Newports.” 

And then there’s Dude with Sign—the meme arbiter of America’s temperature—who stood in New York holding up a placard that simply said “WTF Canada.” 


As a Canadian living in Brooklyn, I’ve felt the anti-Canadian sentiments acutely. 

“Ban Canadians,” texted a friend from Wyoming, which, ironically, is basically Canada. “You think you know a guy and then boom—Canadian,” he continued, suspicious of our ability to code switch (at least until we say “eh.”)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked President Joe Biden for sending American firefighters to help get a grip on the fires, though he stopped short of uttering a characteristic Canadian “sorry” over the matter. 

But how much blame does Canada really have to shoulder? While the locations of the fires make Canada a convenient scapegoat, climate change is making everything a whole lot more flammable. Canada’s oil and gas sector means it's an outsized producer of greenhouse gas emissions but the U.S. is the second largest polluter in the world overall. 

Much like the dementors in Harry Potter feed off misery, many Canadians gain strength from being noticed by the U.S., so we suspect some are actually enjoying the bad press. Others are using it as an opportunity to condescend people who don’t regularly have to breathe in wildfire smoke, a cherished national pastime that’s right up there with shaming folks who find it cold outside in winter.