The popular business magazine’s current issue says Canada is “not at its best just at the moment.” The 14-page report outlines some of Canada’s shortcomings, including dysfunctional political leaders, fraying Canada-U.S. relations, and a growing separatist sentiment in Quebec.
The report said Canada-U.S. relations are suffering because of trade disputes, post 9/11 border security tightening, and an overall increase in Canadians who have an ‘unfavourable’ opinion of the United States.
Western political science professor Donald Abelson agreed that Canada-U.S. relations have been strained since 9/11, though he said tensions are “not exceptionally high.”
The biggest issues affecting Canadian-U.S. relations are Canada’s refusal to send soldiers into Iraq and the softwood trade dispute, Abelson said.
“Canada-U.S. relations are very important . . . they are our closest allies, and our largest trading partner,” he said, though he maintained Canada must “charter its own course.”
“We have to be the ones who decide what’s in our best interest,” he added.
In the upcoming Canadian election, Stephen Harper’s conservative social, economic, and foreign policies likely make him the Bush administration’s candidate of choice, Abelson said.
The Economist report took aim at Harper, calling him “an aloof, cerebral figure, disparaged well beyond liberal circles . . . [who is] clueless with the media.”
The criticism didn’t stop with the Conservatives, as the report stated “Paul Martin is a fine finance minister, but as prime minister he has, on the whole, disappointed.”
King’s College political science chairperson Jacquetta Newman said Canadians may report a dislike for their government because they “[don’t] see politicians as having much integrity to begin with.”
Newman also said many Canadians are put off by Harper’s serious demeanour.
“A lot of people are concerned that he is somewhat humourless . . . he is certainly trying to get over that image. He’s smiling a lot more,” she said.
The report also stated the majority of Quebecers are in favour of separating from Canada.
“More than half of Quebecers asked have been telling pollsters that they would vote in favour of sovereignty in a new referendum,” the report said. According to the report, this support has drastically increased since 2003, and is possibly fueled by distrust for the Liberal government.
Despite Canada’s problems, the report maintained Canada is “peaceful, diverse, tolerant . . . with long-term riches to boot,” and that it “would be a pity” if Canada fell short of its full potential.