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Andreas Souvaliotis Headshot

My Canada: A World Leader No More?

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Thirty summers ago I chose to make Canada my home.

I came to this country not as an economic immigrant, like the many generations of Europeans who came here before me, but as a social immigrant. I hadn't grown up poor and I wasn't looking for a place where I could just prosper quickly. I was looking for the best society on the planet -- and I found it here.

My Canada, a generation ago, was the most inclusive, most diverse and most just society in the world -- and that, alone, made us the coolest and most desirable country. My Canada was a true world leader then; we were a model society.

Thirty years later, My Canada is still the most inclusive, most diverse, most just and one of the wealthiest societies in the world -- and I am still one of its proudest citizens. But I don't think we are a global leader anymore.

Somewhere along the way the rules of the game changed.

In a world now dominated by exploding anxieties about unhealthy lifestyles and our very unhealthy planet, the definition of 'cool' and 'desirable' shifted. While our country claims some of the highest rates of obesity and physical inactivity as well as an astonishingly high (and still rising) carbon footprint for each of us, other nations have recognized these issues as the new leadership frontiers -- and they have started to steal the podium of the global innovation race from us.

Citizens in other wealthy nations are now living healthier, more active, more environmentally responsible lives -- and in fact many of them are feeling 'richer' and happier than we do.

I am too proud to believe My Canada was only yesterday's model society. I think we have what it takes to be a leader again in this changed world. We are one of the wealthiest, best educated, most worldly and most adaptable nations.

We simply need to focus our collective attention on the new priorities for humanity -- healthy lifestyles and a healthy planet -- and it won't be long before we become the top magnet society again.

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