Activists & journalists insist that Canada’s climate policies have destroyed our international good name. But survey results released yesterday indicate – for the 3rd consecutive year – that we have “the world’s best reputation.”

The Reputation Institute describes itself as “the world’s leading reputation-based advisory firm.” From January to March of this year, this global organization asked 27,000 individuals residing in G8 countries about their impressions of specific nations around the world. This survey claims to measure:

the reputation of 50 countries based on levels of trust, esteem, admiration and respect, as well as perceptions regarding 16 attributes that include it being viewed as: a safe place to visit, a beautiful country, having friendly and welcoming residents, having progressive social and economic policies, being run by an effective government, and more.

In a press release issued yesterday, the Institute announced that Canada “has the world’s best reputation” – and that this is the third year in a row we’ve come out on top.

This is worth highlighting because, to hear environmentalists talk, Canada is a pariah among nations. Last November, at the Doha climate summit, we received the “Fossil of the Day” award, which is described as:

a long-standing tradition in the UN climate talks and is voted on and awarded by an international network of over 800 civil society organizations. It is presented daily to the country or countries that do the most to undermine global efforts to address climate change.

If anyone’s looking for evidence that the “800 civil society organizations” who care about climate change are totally disconnected from ordinary people, here it is on a platter. At the time of the award, Climate Action Network Canada declared that Canada needs to “rebuild trust” and “do itself and its international reputation a favour” by spending more cash on climate measures.

Err, no, actually. Our alleged poor reputation is nothing more than a figment of some people’s imagination. It’s worth pointing out that oh-so-green Germany comes in 10 places behind Canada in the reputation survey.

But climate activists live in their own special bubble. This past March, an article in the Alternative’s Journal: Canada’s Environmental Voice, declared that Canada must “atone for its climate sins” and that we are a “world-class climate dinosaur.”

“Is there anything Canada can do at this point to redeem its global reputation?” asks writer Robert Paehlke – who turns out to be “a professor emeritus at Trent University where he taught environmental policy and politics for 35 years” – before continuing to talk about our need to make amends, and how Canadians would rather “walk around without a bag over our collective head.”

Evidently having missed the fact that Canada came out on top in the 2011 and 2012 survey mentioned above, Paehlke sanctimoniously concludes:

Canada once had a very positive international reputation. Such a reputation will not be restored through spending billions on overpriced warplanes. It might be restored by remembering how to be the globally responsible nation we once were.

The view that our good name is in tatters is shared by Megan Leslie, a (left-wing) Member of Parliament who recently declared on her website that our current (conservative) federal government is “killing Canada’s reputation” because, among other things, it doesn’t share her certainty that the planet is headed toward “cataclysmic climate change.”

The view that Canada is an environmental pariah is also promulgated by the media. In April, the New York Times ran a story in which another left-wing Member of Parliament was quoted declaring that our government is “doing tremendous damage to our international reputation” as a result of its climate policies.

For good measure, the news article reported the views of a list of activists – including representatives of the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund – and told us about a tweet by the leader of our federal Green Party. According to Elizabeth May, our Prime Minister is fast “making us a rogue nation. The North Korea of environmental law.”

Nor are these ideas new. Jeffrey Simpson, the longtime national affairs columnist for the national Globe and Mail newspaper, told his readers back in 2011 that

At the Durban climate-change conference, Canada got paddled by other countries. But Canada’s reputation has been trashed so often, and with such evident good reason, what’s one more blow?

Perhaps he’d read the press release, issued four days earlier by the Canadian Labour Congress, which insisted that our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol was an “embarrassment that tarnishes Canada’s international reputation.”

In a 2009 article titled How Canada can restore its reputation on climate change, a different writer in the Globe and Mail had already decided that our good name was toast:

Canada’s reputation and credibility in the multilateral world continue to suffer as climate change has taken on greater significance internationally. We are attracting domestic and international criticism.

Advocating “aggressive emission reductions, covering all aspects of Canadian society,” John Drexhage said this would be an important signal “that Canada takes its international reputation seriously” since, you know, this country needs to “re-establish its reputation.”

And then there’s the Spring 2011 2013_Country_RepTrak_Press_Release_Finalreport by the Wilderness Committee, with the article subtitled Fixing our tarnished reputation. It’s worth quoting at length because it illustrates the chasm between the real world and the one activists inhabit:

Our national identity is based on the idea that you can travel anywhere in the world with a maple leaf on your backpack and be treated like a friend. What many of us in Canada don’t know is that our international reputation is now being tarnished by corporate power and irresponsible government policy.

As awareness spreads in the global community about the need to fight global warming, Canada is increasingly being seen as an obstacle to collective action. At the annual United Nations international climate negotiation summits, Canada has been repeatedly singled out to receive the “Fossil of the Year” award. Representatives of poor nations in the southern hemisphere have actually walked out of the room in disgust on more than one occasion when Canada’s delegates have spoken.

Moral of the story: green activists, like journalists, frequently imagine that their own personal opinions are shared by the world at large. That is often not the case.


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