Most Canadians are optimistic about the Future

In the mid-1990s, Peter C. Newman pointed out—in “The Canadian Revolution”—that Canada was the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman. Back then, the Americans were the dominant economic force, and Britain was a country we looked up to in reverence. “Brain drain” was one of the favourite buzz phrases, as Canada appeared to be primarily attractive for immigrants fleeing war, corruption and inflation. Even our beloved hockey teams were relocating to American cities with warmer climates.
What a difference 16 years make. America and Britain are in a state of alarm, following months of financial uncertainty, low ratings for politicians, and even riots in London. Canada’s economy is doing much better. The Jets are back in Winnipeg, and Quebecers expect the Nordiques to follow suit. Taking all this into account, a three-country poll conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion in partnership with Maclean’s suggests that, if a decent phone booth were available, Canadians would shed their suit and glasses and emerge with a cape and tights.
In the survey, practically nine-in-ten Canadians and Americans regard their own country as “the greatest in the world.” This outcome was not surprising south of the border. Americans have long been tutored to look at the United States as “the greatest in the world.” There are more than 2 million matches for this exact phrase on Google.
In Britain, only half of respondents see the United Kingdom as the greatest country in the world. Setting aside the assumption that Britons are not boastful when discussing national pride, we find a fascinating development. It is the youngest of Britons—those aged 18-to-34—who are feeling particularly downtrodden. Lack of opportunities to get meaningful work, a more expensive education, and a coalition government that has not pleased either of its two main components, are all to blame for the low proportion of young adults who are hopeful.
Respondents were also asked about their respective country’s past and future. By a 2-to-1 margin, Canadians believe that the best days are ahead of us (42%) instead of behind us (22%). Americans are evenly split on this question (36% look to the future for the best days, and 33% look to the past), with middle aged respondents showing some pessimism. In Britain, respondents are three times more likely to believe that the best days are behind (58% to 17%), including two-thirds of the oldest respondents.
A majority of Canadians are definitely satisfied with their daily lives, and want to stay in the country to find a better job, have access to high quality health care, raise a family, and live in a respectful and peaceful society. Conversely, a third of Americans believe that moving to Canada would be an improvement on the health care and society questions, and half of Britons think they would be able to provide a better standard of living for their family if they relocated to Canada. In addition, three-in-five Britons look at Canada as the best place to live in a respectful and peaceful society.
Over the past four years, Americans and Britons have had to withstand the collapse of banks and financial institutions, lived through debilitating mortgage crises, and saw how the promises of “hope and change” and “taking power away from politicians and giving it to people” have been hard to fulfill. On economic confidence, Canada continues to outrank the United States and Britain. The current situation reverses long-standing theories. Americans continue to feel a deep sense of pride, but are divided on whether they will continue to reign. Britons are dejected, and ready to accept that the best days are behind them. Canadians are not only convinced that their country is the best right now—they are also more inclined to forecast even greater things ahead.

Energy sector brings wealth, immigrants to Alberta

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says oil is opening Canada's fastest-growing province to the world for the first time.
The population of Canada's main oil-producing region has soared by 37 percent to about 3.7 million in the past decade as companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Statoil ASA attracted workers from China, Venezuela and the Philippines to develop the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.
"Most people around the world believe that it has been a fairly parochial jurisdiction," Redford, 46, said during an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. "We are now going through a generational change in politics and in business. We have an ability to embrace the world in a way that we've never done."
Alberta, one of only two land-locked Canadian provinces, is turning a farming and cowboy image on its head as the booming energy sector attracts global attention to its oil sands and welcomes newcomers to fill jobs.

Influx of immigrants

The immigrant population of Calgary is growing faster than any Canadian city as oil companies fill as many as 100,000 jobs over the next eight years, according to a study by Deloitte and Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada.
"I came here because it's easy to get a job," said Hong Wei Pei, a 36-year-old accounting clerk from China who arrived in Calgary with her husband and two children in 2009. "Most people here are immigrants and the locals are friendly and welcoming. If you work hard, you'll be successful."
Alberta has led economic growth in Canada in recent years and per-capita gross domestic product, at $69,462 last year, is 75 percent higher than Quebec's and tops among Canadian provinces.

1st Muslim mayor

The investment and immigration has changed the face of the province. Albertans elected Canada's first Muslim mayor to lead Calgary, the province's largest city, and in Redford has its first female premier, one of three in Canada. That speaks to the opportunities for immigrants and minorities in the province, says Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, whose parents emigrated from Tanzania.
"There are very few places in the world where a kid from a minority ethnic community, a minority faith community, could be elected your mayor without anyone blinking an eye," said Nenshi, in a speech on Oct. 26. "It's up to us to model to the rest of the world a place where multiculturalism works."
Visible minorities make up about a quarter of the population of Calgary, which was ranked the world's fifth-most livable city by the Economist magazine this year.
One reason why Alberta has been successful at integrating immigrants is because the region is so young, says David Liepert, a Calgary anesthesiologist who adopted the Islamic religion 16 years ago. Alberta, named after Queen Victoria's fourth daughter, became a province in 1905 with a population of about 100,000.
"Alberta is still building a society, and that makes it open," said Liepert, 50. "It still has aspects of the frontier culture. It doesn't matter what your background is."
The original European settlers, who displaced nomadic native tribes including the Blackfoot and Sarcee nations, had to work together and cooperate in order to manage their farming businesses. They endured a harsh climate where winter temperatures often drop to minus 40 degrees, said Murray Edwards, a Calgary billionaire and vice chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., an oil sands producer.
"There's a spirit here that I call 'prairie entrepreneurialism,' " said Edwards. "The original homesteaders were fiercely independent, but open to new ideas based on their merits - not where they come from. That value set has survived to this day."

Cow town no more

Agriculture, including cattle farming, wheat and barley, was the foundation of the local economy a century ago and now accounts for only about 15 percent of the provincial economic output. Though Calgary still holds an annual cowboy fair, known as the Stampede, the main economic driver is now tied to the oil and natural gas sector, which generates about a third of government revenue and employs 1 in 6 workers, according to government statistics.
The price of oil, now hovering at $100 a barrel, has helped make the province Canada's third-largest economy, just behind Quebec, which has twice the population.
"Alberta has got a lot going for it," said Craig Alexander, chief economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank, the country's second largest. "It's very pro-business and continues to attract immigrants."
The region is luring bankers too. A generation ago, businesses in Calgary had to go "cap-in-hand" to financiers in Toronto for money, Mike Tims, chairman of Peters & Co., a Calgary investment bank, said . Now, global investment banks including Rothschild, Societe Generale SA and Credit Suisse Group AG have set up shop in Calgary, helping to make the city a growing investment center, he said.

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