You say that infrastructure is crumbling in California, and I think you are probably right (I've only been to California a couple of times). But on the other hand, it is too in Quebec, which has had a spate of lethal collapses in the last couple of years (this being the most recent). Last year a bridge collapsed and killed a person on a busy highway, and the same thing happened several years before that. This spring, a major elevated concrete highway interchange in Montreal (the Turcot Interchange) was closed after the authorities discovered a 1m (!!) deep pothole IN THE BRIDGE. Canadians like to blame the weather, but having grown up in New England, where we get all the same weather, I can assure you that our bridges are not collapsing.
Sure the healthcare is free, and everyone has access, but I'll tell you, having to wait 4 hours to see a doctor (as I have done many times) really sucks.
The public high schools are sufficient, but are not by any means greatly superior to americans. 50% dropout rates are commonplace in many places and years of price freezes on tuition has greatly hindered the ability of universities to fund their students (everything from research to maintenance of buildings has been cut for the last 5 years at my university). Many of the cuts would be unheard of at an American university. My first year undergrad chemistry class was 1500 students.
To be fair, Canada does a lot of things better than the United States. And we do things better than Canada, although I think we could both learn from each other, and I don't mean to repudiate social democracy or universal healthcare. These are certainly things we could use in the US. But to say that Californians are "royally screwed" is uninformed - Canadians are plenty screwed in other ways (that you take for granted in the states).
When Time Warner did the same thing on my connection, they actually returned the RCODE as NXDOMAIN (implying a failure) along with the A records for the advert page. Resolvers which properly/strictly adhere to the RFC would treat the lookup as a failure, which means that for spam purposes this probably wouldn't have caused an issue. My guess is that web browsers aren't quite as concerned with a strict interpretation of the standards, since they want the users to get to the web site they're looking for under even the strangest of circumstances.
In either case, it's still a shady move by the ISP. At least they provide opt-out, which I guess is better than nothing.