The best and worst of Canada: What Canadians think of their own country

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Canada’s reputation on the world stage is normally portrayed as relatively positive – we’re polite, friendly, embrace multiculturalism and welcoming.

But how do we – as Canadians – feel about our own country?

READ MORE: Canada 150: Canadian stereotypes that happen to be true

Global News commissioned a poll by Ipsos to determine what Canadians think are our country’s best and worst features, the areas we’ve made the most and least progress in and what we think defines Canadian culture.

We also find out if the pros are enough to outweigh all the cons as Canadians reveal the country they’d most likely to want to call home.

Here’s what we found.

The best of Canada

There’s no denying it – the best thing about Canada is our vast and diverse nature and landscapes.

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We also regard our people and our country’s diversity as a strong suit, as well as the values we hold.

“We have this image of Canada, the true north strong and free, with beautiful landscapes and nature,” says Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos. “These are a great thing for Canada – it’s less about defining culture with a national dance or cuisine or festival, and it’s more about the intangible things that we are in Canada. It’s our people and diversity and values we hold as a country that [makes] it a beautiful place.”

When breaking it all down, it was found that people who were born in Canada were more likely to say the country’s nature and landscapes are the best things about Canada, while those who immigrated are more likely to say it’s the people and diversity.

Those who are more likely to say the best thing about Canada is its values are people from Atlantic Canada (20 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Only nine per cent of people believe Canada’s democracy and its form of government are the best things about our country. Six per cent say it’s our culture, four per cent say it’s our cities and three per cent believe it’s our cuisine.

The worst of Canada

What we’re not too proud of, however, is our democracy and form of government. This is followed by our cuisine and our cities.

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“When people say they don’t like our cuisine, it’s probably the thing that’s least defined,” Simpson speculates. “What is our cuisine? Burgers and ketchup and butter tarts?”

When it comes to our cuisine, Ontarians and Canadians who immigrated to Canada are more likely to say the cuisine is the worst thing about our country.

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In terms of our cities, young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to believe a distinct Canadian cuisine is the area where the country is lacking.

Canadian cuisine conundrum: what is our national food?
Click to play video: 'Canadian cuisine conundrum: what is our national food?'
Canadian cuisine conundrum: what is our national food?

Only about eight per cent of people say the worst thing about Canada is its people and diversity, followed by eight per cent who say values, six per cent who believe it’s our culture and one per cent who say the country’s nature and landscape is lacking.

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Best progress made in Canada in the last 25 years

It was a tight race but it turns out that Canadians feel that Canada has come a long way in making the country a great place to live, overall, compared to 25 years ago.

Canadians also feel Canada has come quite far in establishing gender equality, as well as making improvements to our overall quality of life.

“Right now we have a feminist prime minister and in the past 25 years, there’s been more female CEOs, presidents of universities, prominent decision-makers, politicians, journalists, you name it,” Simpson says. “The gains have been well documented. There are still major steps to be made. Women still don’t make as much as men do, they’re still the primary caregivers for children or for parents who are getting older. The reality is women have to deal with more than men right now but workplaces are getting better at addressing issues with daycare, flex hours, promoting paternal leave as opposed to just maternal leave.”

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Seventeen per cent of Canadians also feel Canada’s image in the world has improved over the last 25 years.

Worst progress made in Canada in the last 25 years

Like any other country in the world, we still have a way to go when it comes to certain aspects of our country, government, views and values.

At the top of the “worst progress” list is our political leadership. Eight per cent feel that it is much worse now compared to 25 years ago, while another 18 per cent say it’s only a little worse.

Many also feel that opportunities for young people in the country are lacking, while others feel the quality of our health-care system has diminished.

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Nine per cent of Canadians also feel that the quality of our schools are much worse now, while 26 per cent say it’s only a little worse than before.

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Another nine per cent claim that the quality of our infrastructure is much worse now, while 25 per cent say it’s only slightly worse.

Defining Canadian culture

How does one define Canadian culture?

Well according to our poll, it’s through the social services we offer Canadians, like our health care.

Another piece of the culture puzzle is our tolerance for people of other faiths or ethnicities, followed by our multicultural diversity.

Our system of government also appears to play a role in defining our culture according to 43 per cent of participants. This is followed by our everyday lives – the routine things that Canadians do every day (37 per cent), our climate (35 per cent) and our bilingualism (35 per cent).

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Choosing a place to live

Despite our flaws, however, it seems that there’s no other place in the world where Canadians would rather call home than in Canada as an overwhelming 67 per cent would still choose Canada over any other country.

But if we did have to choose, it looks like the next best place would be Australia with 10 per cent of respondents willing to trade in the great white north for the country down under.

Graphics by Deepak Sharma

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