Canada's reputation on the rise: poll

Canada's reputation in the world is improving, despite some recent controversies, a new survey suggests.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and then B.C. premier Gordon Campbell enjoy the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. A new survey suggests the Games gave Canada's popularity a boost. (Jim Young/Reuters)

Canada's reputation in the world is improving, despite some recent controversies, a new survey suggests.

On average, 57 per cent of respondents gave Canada a favourable evaluation this year, according to the survey of 27 countries conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC World Service. That's up five per cent from 2010.

Twelve per cent gave an unfavourable evaluation.

"It's restored a blip that we were actually rather worried about because once people start noticing you in a negative way, your reputation is a lot more easily lost than won," said Doug Miller, GlobeScan's founder.

A negative view of the federal government's lack of commitment to climate change and aid to Africa partly drove the drop in Canada's popularity, some experts say.

"We were seeking a seat on the [UN] Security Council," said Jim Peterson, Canada's former minister of international trade. "We had 53 countries that voted against us, and this is probably a direct result of having cut aid to Africa."

But playing host to some high profile events, such as last June's G20 summit in Toronto and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, helped turn the tide in Canada's favour, they say.

"If people are seeing their presidents and prime ministers on Canadian soil, it raises Canada in their minds," Miller said.

Positive shifts

Some of the biggest positive shifts have been in nations with which Canada has a close relationship, according to the poll.

Eighty-two per cent of Americans view Canada in a good light, up 15 points from a year earlier. Seventy-eight per cent of respondents in the United Kingdom gave positive views, up 16 points, and 50 per cent viewed Canada positively in Mexico, up 13 per cent.

The results of the poll, which was conducted between Dec. 2, 2010 and Feb. 4, 2011, are based on 28,619 in-home or telephone interviews conducted across 27 nations. It has an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 to 4.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.