Canada has rated high in two recent international rankings, coming fifth in Portland’s Soft Power 30, and first in the Reputation Institute’s 2015 Country RepTrak.
The“Soft Power 30”, by UK based consulting firm Portland, is a measure of international influence. The index, which surprisingly ranked Canada higher than China, examines the strength of soft power resources in countries around the world. Portland defines “soft power” as the ability of a country to harness attraction and persuasion, as opposed to force or financial payments, to pursue foreign policy objectives. The UK topped the rankings, followed by Germany, the US, France, and Canada in fifth. Data were collected on 50 countries, and the rankings were based on the top 30.
The Reputation Institute’s 2015 Country RepTrak measures the reputation of 55 countries based on levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect as well as a variety of environmental, political, and economic factors. According to the survey, Canada now has the best reputation of any country in the world.
Canada’s high rank in both these measures debunks the widely held belief that the recent policies enacted by the Conservative government have harmed Canada’s reputation and influence abroad. The Conservative government’s motives may be occasionally unclear and its record decidedly mixed, with some foreign policy decisions occasionally generating less than positive headlines. But Canada’s reputation has proven to be more resilient that believed, as most people around the world do not take much interest in politics, and countries’ reputations are built up over many years by their populations and not in a few years by their governments.
So while Canadian diplomats and others do not have a positive opinion of Canada’s reputation internationally, mainly due to recent changes in Canada’s official position on climate change, Israel and other international issues, people on the streets across the world generally believe that Canada is a relatively fair and welcoming developed country. And so any ruling government will have to go a long way to drag down Canada’s reputation in the eyes of the world.