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Has Canada's Reputation Really Diminished Since Harper Took the Reins?

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For quite some time now, the opposition parties in this country have been trying to gain political capital through claims of Canada's international reputation having diminished since Stephen Harper took the reins in 2006.

Everyone from the Liberals to the NDP to the Greens has incessantly spread the word about the demise of Canada's international reputation under consecutive Conservative governments -- a political campaign that has been aided and abetted by a vast portion of this country's media establishment.

Under this pervasive campaign, never substantiated with much more than ambiguous anecdotes, the innumerable and important strides and achievements this country has made during the ongoing Harper era have been masked, if not completely forgotten.

Instead of offering alternative solutions for real issues faced by this country, those opposed to the trice democratically elected Conservative government are attempting to deceive the public into believing that the world has come to shun them owing to who they've elected. Unfortunately for these people, the facts don't quite add up in their favour. Apart from their constant flow of nebulous anecdotes, the evidence points to Canada not only having a stellar international reputation but arguably (one of) the best in the world.

International Reputation

The 2013 Country Ratings Poll of the BBC World Service found that out of 22 major countries being tracked, Canada was the 2nd most favorably viewed -- in a survey which interviewed more than 26,000 people across 25 countries. Further, the survey shows that fewer people think negatively of Canada than of any among the other 21 countries tracked. Most importantly perhaps, for those who argue that our reputation is falling under Harper, between 2012 and 2013, more people have come to think positively of Canada and fewer people negatively. With that, even the oft-mentioned argument that Canada's current reputation is but residual completely fails.

The findings of the BBC survey are further validated by this year's report by the Reputation Institute in New York, which ranked Canada first, out of fifty countries, when it comes to international reputation. Canada was actually ranked second in 2009, but has since risen through the Conservative administration, ranking first for the last three years.

It is overwhelmingly clear that contrary to the politically motivated, deceptive and irresponsible comments made by this country's opposition party leaders and the members of the media who are all too happy to seize the chance to raise their ratings or sales without paying heed to the facts, Canada's international reputation is not only well but thriving.

Women's Rights

Canada is actually performing the best in some of the areas where the opposition says it has suffered the most. While much of the media and many in the opposition like to say that women's rights have faltered under Harper, the Thompson Reuters Foundation actually ranked Canada the best G20 country for women last year on account of its "strong policies against violence and exploitation combined with good access to education and healthcare."

The Economy

While domestic respect for Harper's management of the economy has fallen since the entire world lauded our government for its handling of the global recession some years ago, for the sixth straight year, Canada's financial system was ranked the safest and soundest in the world by the World Economic Forum last month. Whatever domestic critics may allege, the current government has guided the economy through a very tough time and has managed to keep it relatively resilient.

Canadian Cities

Although many in Canada like to allege that the international community scorns us based on our government's policies, those same policies have led to us having 3 of the 5 most livable cities in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Even the City Brands Index, by Anholt-GfK, which "measures the value of a city's international reputation across six dimensions" including "its international status and standing" and "its economic and educational potential," ranked Canada's largest city, Toronto, amongst it's top 10.


In contrast to the NDPs constant rhetoric regarding Canada's rising tuition rates affecting access to education for Canadians, the percentage of the country's population with a tertiary education has consistently risen during the past decade. In fact, Canada remains the only country in the world where more than half the population has a tertiary education, leading it to being named the world's most educated country by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).


The environment, and the Harper government's policies on various energy sources, is a constant subject of the opposition's ire. Much of their allegations have repeatedly been unsubstantiated, as they were last month when Canada placed sixth best in sustainable energy in a ranking by the World Energy Council. As in the case of the country's general international reputation, not only is it ranked quite highly this year, but indeed, higher than it was the year before.

Further, although the report did raise concerns about the potential environmental impact of the oil sands, it lauded the government's efforts in enacting "tougher regulations."

There can be no doubt that there is still much to be done, as there always will be; nevertheless, it should be acknowledged that a great deal of progress has indeed been made, and that the standing of Canada, on numerous fronts, and especially when it comes to our international reputation, remains irreproachable.

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