Canada Versus the World by: Aran Iveson

Canadian Facts and Statistics:


i) Natural resources

- Very rich in natural resources such as: iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, rare earth elements, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower

ii) Land use

- Agricultural land: 6.8% (4.7% arable land, 0.5% permanent crops, 1.6% permanent pasture)

- Forest: 34.1 %

- Other: 59.1%

iii) Natural hazards

- Polar nature of Canada’s more northern regions creates developmental difficulty. Permafrost (frozen soil) makes agriculture and construction nearly impossible

- Cyclonic storms form to the east of the rocky mountains which produce the majority of Canada’s rain and snow

iv) Environmental issues

- Air pollution as a result of coal burning utilities, automobile emissions, and metal smelting are impacting negatively on forests and agriculture

- Acid rain as a result of air pollution severely affecting lakes and forests

- Ocean waters becoming contaminated due to agricultural, industrial, mining, and forestry activities

People and Society:

i) Population:

- 35,362,905

ii) Age structure/Dependancy (A dependant person is someone who cannot work (youth/elderly)

- 0-14 years: 15.44% (male 2,799,758/female 2,661,645)

- 15-24 years: 12.12% (male 2,204,127/female 2,080,587)

- 25-54 years: 40.32% (male 7,231,200/female 7,028,692)

- 55-64 years: 13.94% (male 2,443,452/female 2,484,788)

- 65 years and over: 18.18% (male 2,863,114/female 3,565,542) (2016 est.)

- total dependency ratio: 47.3%

- youth dependency ratio: 23.5%

- elderly dependency ratio: 23.8%

iii) Population growth rate

- 0.74%

iv) Urbanization

- 81.8% of total population, growing at an annual rate of 1.22%

v) Life expectancy

- total population: 81.9 years

- male: 79.2 years

- female: 84.6 years (2016 est.)

vi) Total fertility rate

- 1.6 children born per woman

vii) Health expenditures

- 10.4% of GDP


i) GDP (per capita)

- $46,200 (2016 est.)

- $46,200 (2015 est.)

- $46,100 (2014 est.)

ii) Unemployment rate

- 7.1% (2016 est.)

- 6.9% (2015 est.)

iii) Poverty line

- 9.4% of population below the poverty line

iv) Exports

- $402.4 billion (2016 est.)

- $411 billion (2015 est.)

v) External debt

- $1.608 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)

- $1.55 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)


i) Telephones

- Fixed lines - 45 subscriptions per 100 people

- Mobile- 84 subscriptions per 100 people

ii) Internet users

- total: 31.053 million

- percent of population: 88.5% (July 2015 est.)

Notes on CBC's news article “How Canada is Perceived Around the World”


- Canada is viewed overall as a great country by Slovenians

- Many Slovenians have ties to Canada (relatives that live there), specifically to Vancouver

- Students are taught very little about Canada (funding for Canadian Studies was discontinued)

The Netherlands:

- Dutch people claim that Canada represents the “European version of the United States”. According to them, Canada is similar to what a non-industrialized Europe would look like; overflowing with natural beauty

- The dutch are very warm towards Canadian citizens, quite different to their comportment towards Americans. They appreciate the down to earth nature of Canadians

- As of 2015, certain Dutch citizens were concerned over the governmental state of Canada


- Slovaks know very little about Canada; the country rarely appears in the news

- Slovaks see Canada in a positive light, and claim see the nation as a better version of the United States

- Anti-American sentiments are common in Slovakia and the North American nation is blamed for most things that go wrong in the world. Due to the more peaceful nature of Canada, Slovaks much prefer them over their southern neighbour

The United States:

- Surveys show that US citizens harbor mainly positive feelings towards Canada and its people

- Americans know little about Canada

- Earl Fry (Endowed Professor of Canadian Studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah) claims that America could learn some valuable things from its northern neighbor, principally from the Canadian education system, healthcare system, and low crime rate

- Andrew Holman (Director of Canadian Studies and a history professor at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts) sees Canada as an ever-changing nation or, in his words, an “experimental” nation, with the Quebec referendums of 1980 and 1995, as well as Canada’s big rights revolution following the creation of the 1982 Charter


- With the Canadian government's implementation of the “Understanding Canada” program (a program designed to educate scholars and other influential groups around the world about Canada’s values and culture) in 2008, Israeli citizens as well as people from around the world began to take academic interest in Canada

- When the program was discontinued in 2012, Canada suddenly dropped off the radar in the academic world

- Danny Ben-Natan (president of both the Israeli Association for Canadian Studies and the World Federation of Friends of Museums) says that Canada needs to do more in order to be recognized globally as the wonderful country it is, as Canada is largely overshadowed by other western nations


- For a long time in China, it was believed that Canada lacked a powerful political system or foreign policy. For this reason, Canada was rarely discussed in politics classrooms

- Recently, that opinion began to change as it became clear that national interest was high on the agenda for Canada’s foreign policy

- Stephen Harper made his second visit to China in 2012 and this encouraged Chinese people to accept and welcome Canada’s change in foreign policy towards China

- Wang Bing (former president of the Association for Canadian Studies of China) claims that Chinese people see Canada favourably

- This positive view stems from the way Canada so often steps up to the plate when it comes to international issues such as abuses of human rights

- Canada’s multiculturalism is also respected as a great asset


- Previously, interaction between India and Canada was very limited in relation to trade and economics

- Limited interaction in previous years due to political differences

- However, these days, with a larger Jewish-Indian population in Canada, Indian people seem to have a more positive outlook on future Canadian-Indian economic pursuits


- Germans view Canada as an important member of the G7 and G20 due to the country’s massive energy production and supply of natural resources

- When Canada’s “Understanding Canada” program came to an end in 2012, Germany took this to mean that Canada felt as though they were a self-reliant nation that no longer took interest in being studied globally

- The diversity of Canada remains an important topic of discussion in German classrooms

United Kingdom:

- For people studying Canadian literature in the UK and around the world, the future does not look great, as the Canadian government has been pouring less funding into this sector

- Canada is often ignored of dismissed by British citizens, but Will Smith (English and creative writing professor at Lancaster University) believes that hearing more about Canada could benefit British people and open their eyes to different, and possibly better, ways of living


- Throughout her years of teaching, Ewa Urbaniak-Rybicka (Canadian, American and English literature professor at State University of Applied Sciences in Konin, Poland) claims that her students have generally had nothing but positive things to say about Canada

- Students appreciate the rich history of Canada, as well as its influence on more recent international events

- Praise mainly directed towards Canada’s multiculturalism


- Canada, in the eyes of Venezuelans, is somewhat of a "saviour nation" due to the importance the Canadian government has placed on issues such as violence and human rights infringements in Venezuela

- As a result of this positive outlook, more Venezuelans have been flocking to Canada recently to work or pursue higher education

- Venezuelan students learn of and have respect for Canada’s multiculturalism

Northern Ireland:

- Susan Hodgett (President of the International Council for Canadian Studies) says that Northern Ireland has learned a lot from Canada’s policies on integration, immigrant settlement and equality. This knowledge helped Northern Ireland develop as a nation

- That being said, in recent years, Canada has become less and less discussed around Norther Ireland by students and professors alike


- Canada, in the Mexican eye, sets an example to be followed. This is as a result of Canada’s policies on climate change, renewable energy, water sanitation, etc.

- Recently, due to funding cuts to Canadian Studies in Mexico, interest has largely declined towards Canada

Overall Analysis

What is Canada's biggest strength? What is its biggest weakness?

Even based solely on statistics, it is evident that Canada holds many strengths as a nation. Canada is very rich in natural resources. Natural hazards and environmental issues are few in its urbanized regions. Life expectancy is high (above 80% on average), GDP per capita ($46,200/year in 2016) is high and unemployment rate is low (7.1% in 2016), with less than a tenth (9.4%) of the population living under the poverty line. Looking at these facts alone, it is clear that Canada is a developed and prosperous nation. However, it is important to equally consider anecdotal information when asked a question such as the one above. Analyzing the educated accounts made by Canadian Studies experts from various countries around the world in CBC’s article titled “How Canada is perceived around the world”, there was one thing that nearly all of the experts mentioned in relation to how their country views Canada. This one aspect of Canada that nearly all of the nation representatives wrote about in their section of the article is its multiculturalism. One example of a statement made in relation to Canada’s multiculturalism was one by Emperatriz Arreaza from Venezuela when she mentioned how “Students are taught that Canada is the country of active multiculturalism with excellent inter-culturalism.” By working together with so many different people from all walks of life, Canada has grown wiser and more developed. This multicultural policy that Canada has adopted has shaped the nation for the better, and is, certainly to some degree, responsible for the great quality of life experienced by Canadians overall. Additionally, having such a diverse population has aided Canada’s international image, and plays a huge role in why Canada is perceived so favorably around the world. It is for these reasons that Canada’s multiculturalism is its greatest strength.

When it comes Canada’s greatest weakness, this question’s answer is also made clear by a different claim that popped up repeatedly throughout the article. This weakness that was brought up on multiple occasions in CBC’s article is Canada’s extremely low profile. Although just about every national representative had positive things to say about Canada in this article, nearly all of them brought up the fact that citizens of their country take very little interest in Canada these days. It seems that many nations in recent years have experienced budget cuts to their Canadian Studies programs. The Mexican representative for this article, Salvador Cervantes said “...with the budget cuts to Mexican associations of Canadian Studies, the interest of students and academics in Canadian studies has declined.” The anonymous presence of Canada, despite it being quite a powerful nation, is such a huge weakness due to the importance of maintaining diplomatic relations. Although Canada’s diversity has made other countries see it in a positive light, the fact that the country is so rarely discussed around the world has slowed down the progress of diplomatic relations. Danny Ben-Natan of Israel says “Canada is at a clear disadvantage versus the USA and other Western democracies and cannot afford to be "penny wise" and short-sighted in its struggle to be recognized for what it is in fact: a wonderful free and democratic country with a strong economy and a wonderful people” which does a great job of underlining this issue.

What is Canada's most pressing issue or concern? Why?

In relation to the above statement on Canada’s greatest weakness, Canada’s most pressing issue would have to be the improvement of its diplomatic relations through the use of education. As of right now, most countries appreciate the policies that Canada has implemented on integration and equality, among others, as well as our positive outlook on multiculturalism. That being said, this is not enough for healthy economic relations to flourish. With so few eyes on Canada, countries are unlikely to reach out for any kind of trade agreement. The “Understanding Canada” program was a step in the right direction, and as stated in multiple accounts in the CBC article, once the program came to an end in 2012, people simply stopped paying attention to Canada. Danny Ben-Natan wrote that “...three years ago, the Canadian Government "abolished" (its language!) Understanding Canada and since then Canada is in clear regression in the academic world.” In order for Canada to improve even further economically, it must make an effort to educate other powerful economic nations on why a stronger diplomatic relationship would be mutually beneficial, Similar to how "Understanding Canada" made an effort to educate powerful intellectuals on Canada's involvement in the academic world. Otherwise, if Canada fails to do so, its growth will halt and the relations it has even today could potentially crumble.

Compared to others, should Canadians be proud of their country? Why?

Canada is a wonderful place to live, and the statistics do not fail to back up that statement. As previously stated, Canada is very rich in natural resources, its GDP per capita is high in comparison to the rest of the world, and its unemployment fairly low as well. On top of that, Canada’s electricity production is 7th in the world, 88.5% of its population has internet access, and its life expectancy is very high, with citizens living to above 80 years old on average. The list goes on, and there is certainly no shortage of things Canadian citizens can brag about with respect to their home country. Additionally, according to the anecdotal information provided by CBC’s article “How Canada is perceived around the world”, Canada is thought of very highly by those who know much about it. As Wang Bing of China wrote “Canada definitely conjures up a very positive image in our Chinese mind. We usually find Canada wherever in the world justice should be done, abuses of human rights criticized, refugees assisted, or wrongs redressed”. Based off of other accounts, it seems as though this image of Canada resides not only in the Chinese mind but in the minds of many different people from many backgrounds. For these reasons and many more, Canadians should be more than proud of where they live.

Is Canada "better off" compared to other countries? In what areas is Canada better/not better? Why?

It is a very generalized question to ask if a country is “better off” compared to other COUNTRIES, because there is such a huge difference between one country to the next; a country might be “better off” than country A but not “better off” when compared to country B . Additionally, the term “better off” can relate to different areas of focus when analyzing a country, such as GDP per capita or quality of life. That being said, regardless of the specifics, based off of both anecdotal information and fact-based information it is plain to see that in comparison to the majority of countries, Canada is most certainly “better off”. From an anecdotal perspective, the fact that such developed countries as Germany, the US, and the UK would have almost exclusively positive things to say about Canada clearly suggests that Canada is no weakling. The majority of the nations interviewed on their Canadian perspective believed that there is much to be learned from Canadian policies, as well as from their public school system, healthcare system, livable cities, low crime rate, and much more. The fact that many developed nations wish to learn from Canada and adopt Canadian policies and ideas shows how Canadian citizens must certainly live a better life than the majority of other people around the world. Will Smith from the UK writes “...hearing Canadian voices points [UK citizens] towards other ways of seeing and, vitally, other ways of living.” But it is not only anecdotal information that prove how Canada is “better off” compared to the vast majority of other nations; the facts support that idea as well. As mentioned in the previous question, Canada’s GDP per capita is high in comparison to the rest of the world (sitting at approximately $46,200/year as of 2016), and its unemployment fairly low as well (sitting at 7.1% of the population). On top of that, 81.8% of the population lives in an urban location, with a life expectancy of over 80% on average. Looking this information, it is clear that Canada is a great place to live, and that it’s citizens, on average, live a better life than most other people globally. It is important to take a step back and appreciate this every once in a while.

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