OTTAWA - Canadians, it seems, love their universal health care.
The monarchy? Not so much.
A new national poll commissioned by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies examined the pride Canadians place in a list of more than a dozen symbols, achievements and attributes.
The online survey of 2,207 respondents by Leger Marketing found universal health care was almost universally loved, with 94 per cent calling it an important source of collective pride — including 74 per cent who called it "very important."
At the other end of the spectrum, just 39 per cent of respondents felt the monarchy was a source of personal or collective pride, while 59 per cent were royally unimpressed. In fact, 32 per cent of respondents found the monarchy "not at all important" — the most popular singular response.
Our favourite hosers, Doug and Bob McKenzie
Publicly-Funded Health Care
Tommy Douglas, Canada's "father of medicare."
Ookpik means "snowy owl" in Inuktitut. It's a traditional Inuit handicraft made of sealskin or fur and was once for a brief period of time, a Canadian national symbol.
The findings provide an interesting snapshot of the country after seven years under a Stephen Harper government that's made a priority of promoting its own blend of nation-building symbols.
The military, the Arctic, sports and the monarchy have been staples of Conservative messaging almost from the time Harper took office early in 2006.
More recently, the government has spent more than $100 million over the past four years on jaunty "economic action plan" advertising in concert with a constant refrain from Conservatives about Canada's relative prosperity in a battered global economy.
"They've definitely had mixed results," said Jack Jedwab, the executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies.
"The monarchy doesn't resonate well at all."
But Canada's economic performance finished among the top four pride-instilling achievements.
"It's about creating an environment where people are optimistic, and I think it's working, judging by these numbers," Jedwab said of Conservatives' economic messaging.
"That surprised me. I just didn't think it would be that high, because there are some economic challenges out there."
Canada's "reputation in the world" also fared well in the survey.
Canadian foreign policy has moved toward a more robust, warrior-state under the Harper government and away from the peace-keeping, "honest broker" persona that dates from the Lester Pearson Liberals of the 1960s. That's sparked some political controversy, but hasn't shaken Canadians' international self-image.
"We may have some family fights here at home, but when we step outside the house into the bigger world, we like to represent ourselves as Canadians," said Jedwab.
"We feel we're faring well — and we feel (that) others feel we're faring well."
Rounding out the top four — with 60 per cent calling it "very important" and nine out of 10 respondents deeming it important — was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"One of the ones that does really well — the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — is one the government was more hesitant about," said Jedwab.
The Conservatives consciously downplayed this year's 30th anniversary of the Charter, choosing to mark the occasion with a simple press release.
By contrast, the government has budgeted more than $28 million to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, a multi-year program that includes everything from TV advertising to upgrading historic sites and striking commemorative coins.
Alas, the historic series of battles between the British and the Americans came in near the bottom of the Leger online survey, albeit still far ahead of the monarchy in perceived importance.
Partisans keeping score might take solace that old Liberal standards, the policy of official bilingualism and the 1982 patriation of the Constitution, tied with the War of 1812 as a source of pride. All three were deemed somewhat or very important by 61 per cent of respondents.
All three also posted significant negatives — especially bilingualism.
Thirty-six per cent of respondents felt official bilingualism was of little or no importance to their pride in Canada, while 30 per cent were unimpressed with the War of 1812 and 25 per cent shrugged off Canada getting its own constitution.
Multiculturalism didn't fare a whole lot better.
While 68 per cent felt it was a source of pride, 29 per cent were left cold.
The middle of the pack was dominated by some familiar symbols.
The Canadian flag and the passport were sources of pride for 84 per cent of respondents, followed by the national anthem at 78 per cent.
The Armed Forces, another key Conservative theme, were deemed a source of collective pride by 76 per cent, just behind "our federal system of governance."
Hockey, incidentally, didn't fare well at all.
Only 48 per cent of respondents said the game imparted an important sense of national pride. The 1972 Summit Series, meanwhile, was even lower at 40 per cent.
"Our history" and the 1867 Confederation agreements rounded out the possible choices for survey respondents and did quite well.
Apart from some clearly "asymmetrical" responses from Quebecers on subjects ranging from official bilingualism to the War of 1812 and the national anthem, Jedwab said the survey shows a Canadian consensus.
"There just aren't big gaps in terms of the order of these various symbols, in terms of the proximity of views," said the academic.
"Canadians, by and large, there's pretty nice consensus about some of these issues."
The online poll surveyed Canadians in every province the week of Nov. 5 but does not include the traditional margin of error provided by telephone polling. Online surveys use self-selected respondents, making it impossible to come up with the kind of margin of error found in polls based on telephoned respondents.
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Les Stroud aka 'Survivorman'
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The Greatest Scream On Film
It was the scream heard around the world, and has been imitated - although never duplicated - several times since. <a href="http://www.williamshatner.com/" target="_hplink">William Shatner</a>, who in his own right is a great Canadian, uttered the famous scream '<a href="http://khaaan.com/" target="_hplink">Khaaaaannnnnnnnnnnn!</a>' in a scene during 1982's 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan'. Was it the close up on Shatner's face or the fact he shook while he screamed that made it so powerful? Thirty years later, filmmakers and actors are still trying to outdo Shatner. But some things just can't be beat.
In warm weather, it will cool you down. If you're hungover, it's the magic antidote. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_(cocktail)" target="_hplink">The Caesar</a>, Canada's favourite breakfast, lunch and evening cocktail adds a spicy twist to the Bloody Mary. Canadians are so particular about how it tastes -- with Clamato, not tomato juice -- that many don't even bother ordering it in the U.S. out of fear of disappointment. Served with celery, a lime and, if you're lucky, a fat dill pickle, it's the perfect cocktail. Who knew clam juice could add that kind of magic to a drink? (Photo Shutterstock)
Overall, Americans can save 24 per cent if they buy their drugs from online Canadian pharmacies versus filling their prescriptions at home, according to a <a href="http://www.annals.org/content/143/6/397.abstract" target="_hplink">study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.</a> The study sought to find out why so many U.S. citizens have been taking advantage of the deep discounts north of the border, and the results showed dramatic savings across the board. "Forty-one of the 44 brand-name medications examined were less expensive in Canada." Canucks are proud of their health-care system and easier access -- in this case financially -- to pharmaceuticals. (Photo Alamy)
Our Ties To The Monarchy
The debate on whether we should cut ties to the monarchy was <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/why-the-monarchy-sigh-still-survives-in-canada/article4181939/" target="_hplink">all but quashed last year</a> after the outpouring of pomp and pageantry -- in Canada -- around the royal wedding. Canadians embraced the nuptials as if Prince William was their own and turned out in droves to see the newlyweds during <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/royal-visit-canada-2011" target="_hplink">their cross-country tour last July.</a> From trying to get Pippa's butt to putting in their two cents on whether Prince Charles deserves the throne, Canadians love their Queen and all of the gossip that goes with her. (Photo Rex Features)
When it comes to food, Canadians concede there's far more selection in the U.S. but we're fiercely proud of the candy bars that can only be found here. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffee_Crisp" target="_hplink">Coffee Crisp</a> is a great example. Consisting of a crunchy wafer, milk chocolate coating and slightest hint of coffee flavouring, the chocolate bar is true to its marketing slogan of making 'a nice light snack' and is adored by all moms and seniors. Rumour has it they've been spotted in a few U.S. border town convenience stores. We want proof!
Better View At Niagara Falls
Undoubtedly one of North America's natural wonders, the power and beauty of Niagara Falls never ceases to amaze, whether it's your first trip or 100th. Luckily for Canucks, the <a href="http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/eastern-us-niagara-falls-which-side-is-better.html" target="_hplink">best place to view the falls is on the 'Canadian side'. </a>That's right, busloads of tourists from around the world flood the observation areas near the falls in Ontario every day to snap the perfect picture for their Facebook profile. Do Americans bother to cross the border for the better view? You betcha. Just look out for the person using 'eh' at awkward times. (Photo Shutterstock)
We Love Seeing Our World
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Limits To Election Spending
Canada limits corporate influence on our electoral process via spending limits on political donations and third-party advertising. The 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/supreme-court-rolls-back_n_431227.html" target="_hplink">similar campaign finance laws in that country</a> -- on grounds they violate the free-speech right of corporations -- poses a serious threat to democracy and the integrity of future elections in America. (AFP/Getty Images)
Hockey In Middle Earth
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There are few brands in Canada as reliable as President's Choice. Mr. Christie thinks he makes good cookies but nothing tops<a href="http://reviews.presidentschoice.ca/6584/F14934/reviews.htm" target="_hplink"> the Decadent</a>, the brand's answer to Chips Ahoy. Kraft Dinner, in its familiar blue box, pales in comparison to <a href="http://www.presidentschoice.ca/LCLOnline/products.jsp?type=details&sortOrder=byRate&productId=4745" target="_hplink">PC's White Cheddar Mac & Cheese</a>. It also doesn't hurt that nerdily-handsome Galen Weston (hearthrob of Canadian suburban housewives everywhere) is the pitchman for this iconic line of Canadian products. Why yes, Mr. Weston, I'd like some more <a href="http://reviews.presidentschoice.ca/6584/Fprod1410011/reviews.htm" target="_hplink">Memories of Morocco Sweet And Spicy Sauce</a>...
Ours might be smaller and fewer in number but Canadian cities consistently rank above American cities on livability.<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/11/30/mercer-quality-of-living-cities-canada_n_1120615.html" target="_hplink"> In the most recent Mercer survey of livable cities</a>, Canadian cities took 4th, 14th, and 15th place, while the highest-ranked American city was 33rd. (Photo Getty Images)
Best Place To Do Business?
According to Forbes, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/10/04/forbes-canada-best-country-business_n_994554.html" target="_hplink">Canada is the best country in the world to do business</a> and it's not because of the climate. Chalk it up to a lower corporate tax rate, excellent infrastructure and a well-educated populace. The U.S. and Europe's recent economic woes don't help them either. (Photo CP)
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/05/27/canada-income-inequality-by-numbers_n_1545900.html" target="_hplink">Canada has greater social mobility.</a> If you are born into the poorest 10 per cent, your odds of making it to the richest 10 per cent are considerably better in Canada than in the U.S. In other words, it's easier to realize the American Dream in Canada than it is in the U.S. (Shutterstock)
(Photo Getty Images)
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Gay Marriage Rights
This "fake" Heritage Minute says it all: on July 20, 2005, Canada's government passed the Civil Marriage Act giving same-sex couples the same rights and privileges as heterosexual pairings. The LGBT community can not only marry, they can also adopt children. We also host one of the largest Gay Pride festivals in the world in Toronto every June/July.
French fries. Cheese curds. Gravy. All mixed together in one bowl. There's really nothing more to say than <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/jacqueline-vong/poutine-guilty-pleasure-food_b_1366823.html" target="_hplink">this dish is gluttonously awesome</a>. And we're proud to say it's 100 per cent Canadian. (Photo CP)
We Can Go To Cuba
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Tell us why you think Canada is great. Is it a photo of your favourite camping spot, a Canadian you really admire, our weird obsession with hockey and cold weather? We're looking for your responses on Twitter with the <a href="http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23LoveCanada" target="_hplink">#LoveCanada</a> tag, Facebook, in the comments and <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Love Canada" target="_hplink">via e-mail</a>. We'll be collecting the best responses and featuring them on our site in the coming weeks. (Photo Getty Images)