‘Dyed in the wool American’ would choose Canada

Michael Pinball Clemons says he would choose Canada as his home and native land. The CFL star was greeted by fans, including one who came to give him a hug during the show, while he spoke in Petrolia. Heather Wright Photos

If transplanted American football player Michael Pinball Clemons had to choose between citizenship in Canada or the US – it wouldn’t even be close.
The CFL Legend, who is a dual citizen with four Grey Cup rings to his name, would choose to be Canadian.
Clemons expressed his love of Canada during the Victoria Playhouse Petrolia’s speakers series Saturday.
Clemons came to Canada to play for the Toronto Argos after suffering an injury and being cut by the Kansas City Chiefs. “The first three months here I felt I could live here forever,” Clemons says.
Part of the reason was all the love he was getting from Argos fans. “When a girl tells you you’re pretty, you become more interested,” he said with his trademark grin. “The team, the league and the city really embraced me.”
Clemons grew up in Dunedin, Florida – the spring training base of the Toronto Blue Jays. But he is a “dyed in the wool American” even now, during the political turmoil in the US under the leadership of Donald Trump. “For me, it is like you don’t choose your family, your family is your family.”
But he says what makes him love Canada is subtle things most Canadians never see. “In the US, it is a different starting point. If I go into a bank in Florida, they assume I’m incompetent until I prove I am competent. Here, I go into a bank and they assume I’m competent and I have to prove I am incompetent – which I can do.
“I’m proud to be American, but if I had to choose one or the other, it’s not even close. I’d choose being Canadian.
“I am so enamoured with the opportunity we’ve been given in this country. And the greatest opportunity may be the gift of giving.”
Clemons has his own foundation which builds homes all over the world.
So far, the foundation has provided over 250 homes in places such as Kenya, Ecuador, Haiti, rural China and India.
“Canada put me in a position where I am able to facilitate giving,” says Clemons. “To have the capacity to give more than I thought I ever could.”