There is a sense permeating through the world that Canada just doesn’t have the stuff anymore. You know, that je ne sais quoi that gave us a bit of a strut on the international stage. That thing that allowed us to punch above our weight, point a righteous finger at sinners and have other countries take notice.
There is a sense that we are lagging in that regard these days. That we may still be barking, but no one is listening. That our reputation has slipped, collapsed, across the world.
That collapse can been seen perhaps most harshly on this year's United Nations' human development index, on which Canada has dropped out of the top 10 most developed countries.
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The index, on which Canada held the top spot for nearly a decade in the 1990s, compares a nation's performance in health, education and income. Those benchmarks, when melded together, outline a citizenship's level of progress.
For the first time in the history of the report, Canada isn't considered one of the 10 best countries in this regard.
The 2013 UN Human Development Ranking:
Sure, sitting as the 11th most advances country in the world isn't the worst thing, but it is a far cry from just a few decades ago, when the index could have been called "The UN Which Countries are Almost as Awesome as Canada Ranking." As recently as six years ago, Canada was still flirting with a top five ranking. Last year, we were 10th.
As we slip, countries such as Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo make strides up the list. Although, don't fear, those troubled nations are still more than 180 spots below the Good White North.
So what happened? Well, this is a pervasive theme recently, with Canada being viewed less positively under a Stephen Harper government.
Pundits really began noticing our international reputation was taking a beating last year when we failed to land a seat on the UN Security Council. Others pointed to Harper’s tendency to lecture other countries and his government’s decision to cut foreign aid as reasons for the reputation decline.
Another, unrelated report by the World Health Organization suggests that Canada is failing "vulnerable road users," such as cyclists and pedestrians.
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The Global Status Report on Road Safety suggests that, until most UN members, Canada does not conduct safety audits to ensure proper road safety and infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
But that seems like a side dish to the full-course meal that is our waning reputation and failing progress levels.
If we don’t do something to right the ship, we could be passed by Korea, China and Denmark. We could find ourselves left stripped of the high ground, barren on the international stage and swinging aimlessly and ignored when preaching on how the world should act.
And don’t say we have been “punching above our weight” all this time, that we were bound to slip into a natural position at some point. Punching above our weight is what once made Canada great.
Good seems like a terrible alternative, all things considered.
Photo courtesy of Reuters
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