Shining reputation earns Canada top billing
Keeping Canada beautiful: Mayor Rob Ford takes part in the Annual Mayor's Clean-up in Toronto's Amesbury Park. Photo: Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star
If you’re finding it harder to be a flag-waving Canadian these days of national and civic scandals, spying allegations, environmental embarrassment, appalling aboriginal issues and diplomatic fumbles, there’s some cheering news.
Canada’s reputation is number one in the world, according to the Reputation Institute’s 2013 Country report, a global study of more than 34,000 ratings, collected from more than 27,000 consumers in the G8 countries.
“Canada’s results confirm that it is only possible to maintain a strong reputation in the long term when a country has the ability to transmit its leadership globally in three criteria,” says managing partner Fernando Prado. “Effective government, advanced economy and an appealing environment.”
The New York and Copenhagen-based institute is billed as “the world’s leading reputation management consultancy.”
For the third year running, Canada topped its annual survey, measuring how 50 countries are viewed. Our win was based on “levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect” as well as perceptions that we are “a safe place to visit, a beautiful country," with "friendly and welcoming residents, progressive social and economic policies, effective government and more.”
Our nearest competitors include (in declining order) Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Norway, with the U.S. running only 22nd and Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq bottoming out between 46th to 50th place.
That’s much more buoyant than the latest UN Human Development Report. In it Canada plunged from sixth place in 2011 to 11th this year. Meanwhile Statistics Canada figures confirm what most Canadians know – that housing prices have spiked and food costs are on a year-on-year upswing, prompting some to put their grocery carts on a diet.
Food banks are a growth industry, with nearly 900,000 people dependent on them. And close to 400,000 households are spending more than half their incomes on shelter.
In spite of Canada’s “progressive social and economic policies and effective government,” middle class incomes have stalled -- a result of outsourcing decently-waged jobs to low waged countries and a shrinking job market for skilled workers. The most common jobs are in low-paying, insecure retail sales.
But not to worry. Barring oil spills, unchecked air and water pollution, vanishing endangered species, chopped boreal forests, shrinking water bodies and toxic mining, the friendly and welcoming residents will still be celebrating the beauty part.
While we can.
Olivia Ward has covered the former Soviet Union to the Middle East, South Asia and the U.S., winning national and international awards. She’s happy to be a Canadian.