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Canada’s weak dollar, First Nations history among issues that most embarrass Canadians: poll

Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two thirds of Canadians say they’re embarrassed about being Canadian or living in Canada for one reason or another, according to an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News.

Thirty-three per cent pinpointed the low-trading loonie as the single most embarrassing issue, followed by Canada’s history with First Nations (27 per cent) and Canadians’ excessive political correctness (23 per cent).

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“People see [the value of the dollar] as kind of an indicator of what the rest of the world might think of the value of being Canadian to a certain extent, at least the value of the Canadian economy,” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, told Global News.
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There was a clear generational split when it came to the issue of political correctness, with 28 per cent of boomers saying Canadians are too politically correct, compared to only 16 per cent of millennials.

“[Boomers] are probably seeing things that are occurring in terms of what some people might call political correctness — change that’s happening — that they find somewhat embarrassing… it’s probably as much a representation of comfort with change, and younger people being more comfortable with change than older people,” Bricker said.

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“I think there’s a general perception in Canada among certain parts of the population, in this instance above a quarter of people in the boomer generation, that maybe we’ve become a little bit more precious in terms of the way we regard some of the things that happen around us.”

Canada’s health care system was anointed the fourth-most embarrassing subject, earning grief from 20 per cent of Canadians.

Respondents’ income levels seemed to have some effect on their opinions on health care, with 25 per cent of those making $40,000 or less branding the country’s health care system an embarrassment, compared to only 13 per cent of people making six figures or more.

This suggests that Canada’s health care system may be less egalitarian in practice than is sometimes claimed, Bricker noted.

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“Allegedly we have a single-payer health care system that says that regardless of what your income is, that everybody should get the same level of access. But clearly people who are on one end of the scale in terms of income, the more affluent, are feeling more comfortable with the system than people who are less affluent,” he said.

Rounding out the top five most widely cited national embarrassments was public transit, selected by 17 per cent of Canadians, with millennials (22 per cent) more disillusioned by transit than Gen Xers (15 per cent) and boomers (16 per cent).

This may be partially due to the fact that millennials are less likely to have other transportation options, Bricker said.

The poll also found Quebec and Atlantic Canada to lie on opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to a trio of issues.

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Quebecers were the most likely to identify excessive political correctness (25 per cent) and politeness (17 per cent) as a source of embarrassment, compared to only nine per cent and 16 per cent respectively for Atlantic Canada.

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Also, 26 per cent of Quebecers said it’s embarrassing that Canada doesn’t stand up to other countries, with just 16 per cent of Atlantic Canadians sharing that view.

“Atlantic Canadians are the part of the population that’s experiencing the least amount of change of anybody in the country, so they tend to be the least culturally diverse, they tend to be an older population… their lives are pretty settled in comparison to what’s happening in some of the other urban parts of the country,” Bricker said.

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He added that Quebec’s unique perspective on Canadian issues is also at play.

“Quebec always tends to stand out on just about any survey, not just about this but anything that happens to do with Canadian culture,” he said.

Nationwide, 36 per cent of women said they’re comfortable with Canada and being Canadian, with only 28 per cent of men feeling the same.

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A similar disparity was found between boomers (36 per cent) and millennials (28 per cent).

“The younger you are, the less settled you are, the less comfortable you are with all aspects of your identity. You’re more in a ‘searching’ mode,” Bricker said.

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The poll also revealed the areas that Canadians take comfort in, with our country’s cuisine, arts and culture, and foreign aid contributions labelled embarrassing by only two, three and four per cent of Canadians respectively.