By PAT WATSON
How does it feel to know that we who live here in Canada are the envy of most of the world? Now that is definitely something to celebrate this July 1 as we mark the 143rd anniversary of Canada’s confederation.
According to the findings of a recent survey of people living in countries such as China, Mexico, India and Turkey carried out by the Monk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, many people, especially those in developing countries, would rather live in Canada than their current country of residence, if given the opportunity. Canadians also have a very positive image of this country.
Of the countries surveyed, more than seven out of 10 respondents living in China when asked: ‘If I had a choice to live in Canada or stay in my current country, I would move to Canada” responded in the affirmative. Even in advanced economies such as Britain, the response came in at 50 per cent in the positive.
Canada continues to enjoy an image around the world as a country that welcomes newcomers. Even the United States, which used to be the place of open arms for people looking for a new life and new opportunities, doesn’t quite have the shine that Canada has these days. The U.S.’s image has been tarnished by post 9-11 paranoia that has not tainted Canada in the eyes of those far away. Interestingly, the survey found Americans answered the question about moving to Canada in the positive at a rate of only three in 10.
Aside from Canada’s welcoming image, respondents to the survey viewed positively Canada’s respect for rights and freedoms, tolerance of racial and cultural differences and quality of life. In fact, the United Nations quality-of-life index rates Canada fourth behind top-rated Norway, Australia and Iceland and ahead of the U.S., which is in 13th position out of 182 countries that were measured by the UN using criteria of individual purchasing power, educational achievements and life expectancy.
But it’s not just people outside Canada who have this positive notion about this country; Canadians also share the same sense of what makes this a great place to live. In the same survey, close to 90 per cent of those who answered the survey locally said that Canadians have one of the best qualities of life anywhere in the world. And almost 100 per cent of those surveyed here agreed that Canadians are friendly.
The survey didn’t add that we are seemingly friendlier during the summer months, and extremely friendly in the south-western part of Ontario during Caribana season, just about to begin. This special friendliness is why our population swells by about a million each year at this time as visitors from all over the world who have that positive image of Canada pour in for one of the best gifts Caribbean immigrants have given this country in celebration of Canada and Canadian-ness.
This Canada Day, share a roti or a patty and raise a toast to the good fortune of living in a country that is the envy of the rest of the world. Congratulate yourself on making the choice to live here. We don’t need the United Nations to tell us how good it can be; our experience here is proof. There are many challenges, of course, but working together to overcome them is what builds the character of this country as we continue to grow together.
On a note of fencing off the fan factor…
The first time U.S. President Barack Obama made a grand trip to Canada he landed in Ottawa, where he spent a few hours, mere weeks after his inauguration. At that time, many people here made the pilgrimage to the nation’s capitol to greet him and to congratulate him on his history making victory that made him the 44th President of the United States. This past weekend, however, given the tight security and the envelope including that offending fence that ran around the perimeter of Toronto’s financial district, there was absolutely no opportunity for everyday Obama fans to catch a glimpse. The strategy for his next visit: Since these days anyone with a cell phone camera can assert accreditation as a citizen-journalist, find out how ordinary folks can get a media pass to be near the superstar president at his next Canadian news conference.