Who’s Your Country?

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.




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Who’s Your Country?

  1. firsties!!

    • Lame.

    • My favorite boards ban for that.

  2. How about 'Socialist Nerds with Oil'?

  3. I'm no marketing professional but I have heard that for a brand to work and take hold, there has to be at least a modicum of truth to it, a plausibility factor.

    Which is why the brand of "responsible government" will never work.

    • Agreed.

      Also, for some reason, people seem to associate environmental responsibility with Canada. We should probably just quietly let them continue to believe it for as long as possible.

  4. "responsible government" isn't tied to a moral trait?

    How about "holier than thou"?

  5. I'd choose "inclusive" personally.

    This country's not perfect, but it really is a feat, unmatched, in my opinion, anywhere else in the world.

    • Agreed, although it is mildly disturbing that schizophrenic could also work in those quotes.

    • Do you mean "inclusive" in terms of accepting different cultures, or in terms of accepting different points of view?

  6. We've been at the forefront of gay rights recently and black equality before it was fashionable in at least one other part of the first world. Our legal protections for minorities are second to none. So I think a strong argument could be made for Human Rights.

    • The conditions on many native reserves across the country would suggest to me that this argument would be easily shot down.

      • oooh, that is a pretty good point.

      • So, natives deserve legal protection to a condo on the upper west-side and an Audi in the drive way? Generally, in order for groups of people to climb the social ladder, there are a few expectations that come along with that. Minor things such as continuing education beyond grade 3, finding employment within a legal enterprise, and not sniffing gasoline in the afternoon.

        • No, but access to education, basic health (and public health) services, and infrastructure development would be a nice start.

          • Right, we better build $100 million dollar schools and fully staffed hospitals for every reserve population of 500 in the country. That'll be money well spent.

        • seems that better education opportunities are not just needed on reserves. NiceGuy here, could be the poster boy for such a campaign.

          • Typical socialist pablum. No argument, no facts, no established opinion, just name-calling and drive-by smears. This is why your side will be relegated to the oppostion benches for a loooooooooong time to come.

          • you are decrying "No argument, no facts, no established opinion, just name-calling and drive-by smears", after you put words in people's mouth, and smear individual posters, aboriginal people generally and all of the left while providing no counter-arguments or facts. you are a troll. take a hike.

  7. We cannot use responsible government, not with the Harperites poroguing government every time someone hurts their feelings.

    • And ignoring orders to produce documents – that was even worse because he actually had the right to pro-rogue no matter how distasteful it might have been.

    • Actually, it is the GG who porogues parliament, not the 'Harperites'. A left-wing, socialist, quasi-separatist GG appointed by a Liberal at that. Don't let a little thing like 'fact' stand in the way of your argument though…none of your other left-wing buddies do.

      • The Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister (and other advisors). There is also little precedent to justify her refusing that request. That's an excellent selective reading of history, though.

        • When you say 'selective', you mean factual… right?

  8. L'Hotel du Monde

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