Who’s hot, hot, hot?
In what must be one of the best comeback stories of recent times, Germany, formerly a big nasty, is now ranked as the most positively viewed country in the world according to a recent BBC World Service’s annual Country Ratings Poll. It beat out Japan, last year’s winner which dropped by first place to fourth (“Sorry Abe!”). Germany even beat out Canada. Canada. Our beautiful country—true north strong and free—was bumped to the number two spot. Canadians are renowned for our compulsive apologizing to inanimate objects, each other, and nothing in particular. Well, here’s something we should really be sorry about.
How could this have happened? One answer can be found in the old adage: Follow the money.
After the global recession in 2007 Canada was the golden child. Our banks did not implode. Our home property values did not collapse. Our employment numbers, though anemic, held up better than those in many parts of the world, especially southern Europe. When you marry fiscal prudence with inherent politeness what you get is Canada, a country that’s hard to beat in a popularity contest. Except if you’re Germany. Euro superstar!
Oh, how the worm has turned. Canada is looking a bit peaky. Our economic growth is pegged at 1.6% this year, and thanks in part to historically low interest rates, the average Canadian household has been spending more than it’s been earning for the past 11 years. Indebtedness is a popularity killer. Add in low international prices for our natural resources like oil and gas, nervous corporations that are sitting on piles of, as Mark Carney called it, “dead cash”, and a potential housing bubble and you can see how Canada was eclipsed by bold Germany, saviour of the European Union.
The world loves a winner and everyone can agree that Germany is on a tear—on the pitch and off. Spain, which was publicly pistol-whipped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for its fiscal profligacy and then trussed up in tight austerity measures, rewarded the country with a thumb’s up in the poll, proving that, when it comes to rough trade, Germany shines like a well-polished tin helmet. Germany is also on a roll in soccer, beating out every other country to become the first one to play against itself at this year’s Champions League at London’s Wembley Stadium. Is there no stopping them?
Canada needs to launch a charm offensive immediately to get a jump on next year’s poll. For starters, we’ve got to sort out this sediment-water issue in Montreal. No matter how wide your smile, or how delightful the accent, brown teeth just don’t cut it. Next, Rob Ford. If he’s not up to snuff as coach of a high-school football team, he’s not fit to be mayor. Case closed. As for Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, they have sucked on the public’s teats long enough. It’s time we toss them and send them off to graze in their own pastures in P.E.I and Saskatchewan, respectively. And, oh yeah, it sure would be nice if Canada won the Stanley Cup this year. Jocks are always popular.