Who's Your Country? - Macleans.ca

Who’s Your Country?

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As the soccer-mad world cocks half an eye at the goings-on in Hunstville and Toronto, The Mark presents a look at just what sort of image, or brand, Canada should be presenting on the global stage. It’s a fun series of short essays, with a pretty impressive list of contributors: Two former prime ministers, a bunch of academics and policy wonks, and… some journalist.

What is Canada’s most exportable trait? Kim Campbell suggests it is our approach to federalism, while Eddie Greenspon proposes “Open foreign policy”. My own view is that an effective nation brand can’t be too narrow (which is why I think Paul Martin’s “banking genius” won’t work), and it shouldn’t be tied to a moral trait, which is why I’m not keen on Judith Shamian’s “Clever compassion”.

I suggest “responsible government” as our nation brand, although I intend it in a much broader sense than it is taught in civics 101. Of the other suggestions, I think Tom Axworthy’s “Charter government” is probably the one with the best chance of success.

More on nation branding: An interview I did with nation branding guru Nicolas Papadopoulos, and  what I think is the second ever column I wrote for Maclean’s, on the prospects and perils of nation brands.