Constantly rated by the United Nations (UN) as the best country to live in, Canada is said to be the second biggest country in the world and is very rich in natural resources and about quarter of a million chooses to enter Canada as new Permanent Residents (“Why Canada? ”). Canada is also considered to be the best placed to move to if one wants to be a survivor of climate change in the decades ahead. This was the result of a study made by Maplecroft, a British consultancy which specializes in mapping risks.
Among the 168 countries mapped in the Climate Change Risk Report of Maplecroft, Canada topped the list with a vulnerability score of 8.81, with 10 being the highest and 1, the lowest (McCarthy). Since Canada is my place of residence, it would be interesting to study why it is constantly rated by UN and other ranking authorities as the best country to live in. Introduction Since the Maple Leaf flag was adopted in 1965, Canada grew rapidly as a natural resource-based economy. However, in the 1970s there was major upheaval in Quebec when the separatist movement took on a violent nature, but in 1980 a referendum showed the majority of Quebecois were against indepen¬dence.
The eighties were characterised by constitutional issues. Canada’s constitution (the BNA Act) was an act of the British Parliament and, as an independent country; Canada wanted to ‘bring home’ the constitution. In 1982, parts of the BNA Act were changed and it became a Canadian act: The Constitution Act. Included in it is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Quebec is the only province that did not sign the new constitution and two subsequent attempts to bring it in, the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord, failed.
In 1995 another Quebec refer¬endum on independence took place and the ‘no’ side (against independence) won by a very narrow margin. (“Historical Framework of Canada”) Canada became increasingly linked to the political economy of the U. S through various treaty agreements and trade arrangements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Most of Canada’s trades were with the U. S. While American businesses expanded their investments in the Canadian economy, foreign corporations (mostly U. S. companies) owned most of the nation’s petroleum and discouraged Canadian-controlled research and development projects.
This resulted in Canada’s exclusion from the microchip computer revolution that transformed American technology and industries in those periods. Although some Canadian policy makers soon complained of the growing dependence of the Canadian economy on foreign companies, the pattern persisted and placed Canada in an increasingly precarious position in the world market. When the Middle Eastern oil crisis struck Western countries in the 1970s and 1980s, the Canadian economy was particularly hard hit. Despite heavy dependence on the U. S. for economic development and defense, Canada experienced unprecedented economic growth and prosperity.
Production and consumption rose, as the nation’s population not only increased but continued to urbanize, and then suburbanize, in growing numbers. A variety of forces fueled the development of Canadian cities, suburbs, and consumer culture: the baby boom, relatively low rates of unemployment, and an overall rise in the standard of living. Yet, as in earlier eras, the country’s prosperity was unequally distributed. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Canada was also attracting increasing numbers of new immigrants from Europe (especially Italy), Africa, Asia, and the Americas (Stearns).
Canada, like most other major economies, faces a challenging economic environment over the next couple of years. A Senior Economist from the State Street Global Advisors wrote that: ”The multiple and cascading shocks associated with skyrocketing commodity prices, alarmingly stressed and volatile financial markets (associated in part with a still growing “subprime” credit crisis), and persisting global imbalances are creating a disconcertingly murky outlook that seems to offer few good policy options to central bankers and other economic policymakers.
However, the Canadian economy has demonstrated an impressive resilience to economic shocks such as the dramatic appreciation of the Loonie over the last half-decade. This proven resilience keeps us optimistic that although the economy has stumbled, it won’t be down for long and indeed may well end up outperforming the other major advanced economies over the medium term. ” Developmental Indicators
The Human Development Index (HDI) provides a composite measure of three dimensions of human development: living a long and healthy life (measured by life expectancy), being educated (measured by adult literacy and enrolment at the primary, secondary and tertiary level) and having a decent standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, income). It basically provides “a broadened prism for viewing human progress and the complex relationship between income and well-being. ” Under the 2007/2008 Human Development Report, the HDI for Canada was 0.
961, which gave the country a rank of 4th out of 177 countries. (“Canada: The Human Development Index – going beyond income”) The State of World Liberty Index is a ranking of countries according to the degree of economic and personal freedoms which their citizens enjoy; each country is given a score between 0 and 100. The Index defines freedom as “the ability for the individual to live their lives as they choose, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. ” In the 2006 State of World Liberty Index, Canada ranked 3rd out of 159 countries (“The 2006 State of World Liberty Index”).
The annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), first released in 1995, is the best known of TI’s tools. It has been widely credited for putting TI and the issue of corruption on the international policy agenda. The CPI ranks more than 150 countries in terms of perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. Under the 2008, Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada ranked 9th out of 180 countries (“Corruption Perceptions Index 2008”)
The Index of Economic Freedom is a series of 10 economic measurements created by the Wall Steet Journal and the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Its stated objective is to measure the degree of economic freedom in the world’s nations. In the 2008 Index of Economic Freedom, Canada ranked 7th out 157 countries (“The Index of Economic Freedom”) The Press Freedom Index (PFI) is an annual ranking of countries conducted by the Reporters Without Borders Worlwide (RWB), which provides an assessment of press freedom in countries. Out of 169 countries, Canada ranked 18th in terms of Press Freedom Index.
Discussion Based on the development indices that were taken into consideration, it would appear that the assessment of Canada’s development has been quite consistent with its image of being one of the highest ranked developed countries in the world today. Although there may be some slight variations in the degrees of Canadian “freedom” as shown by the State of World Liberty Index and Index of Economic Freedom, it would still be safe to say that the two (2) “freedom” indices are a fairly accurate assessment of Canada’s degrees of freedom in terms of civil liberties and economic freedom.
The Press Freedom Index though shows quite a different story that is worth reconsidering. Why would a highly civilized and democratic country like Canada rank 18th among the countries assessed? Does this mean that the Canadian government may have been curtailing press freedom despite its significantly high performance in terms of providing human development services to its citizens? One would just wonder how a highly evolving human development society like Canada would only rank 18th in terms of the Press Freedom Index.
Canada has been consistently ranking one of the highest if not the highest in the Human Development Index and among the development indices earlier cited; it is the HDI that accurately measures human welfare and development in Canada and it goes beyond income as a measure of economic welfare. Furthermore, among the composite indices, the HDI is the most widely recognized in the world as it is being administered by no less than the United Nations itself. Conclusion
After carefully examining the recent historical trends and development indices outlined above, it is still safe to conclude that Canada is indeed the “best place to live in. ” and that the Human Development Index strongly demonstrates this observation. On top of this, Canada shows a relatively outstanding governance environment as shown by its high score in Corruption Perceptions Index. Furthermore, Canada has a free and unencumbered economy where its citizens can enjoy the fruits of their labor without any fear of political repression.
Despite the challenges being posed by the impending global economic crisis, the development fundamentals of Canada are indeed looking healthier and could sustain the economic pressures from a highly globalized environment. Canada is a nation that is very rich in natural resources and with its continued demonstration of world-class human development standards; it can certainly look forward to an enviable development in the future. However, Canada, as a nation must not rest on its development “laurels” so to speak. It must strive some more for a more equitable distribution of weath.