As Canadians, we are proud of our multiculturalism, our love for hockey, treasure our Universal health-care system and we definitely don’t like guns… or so they say.
#1 We Hate Guns
In a 2007 international Small Arms Survey conducted by a Geneva-based research institute, the United States topped the list for civilian gun ownership (non-police and non-military), with 88.8 guns for every 100 citizens. Canadians, in contrast, own 30.8 guns per 100 citizens.
The fact is, Canada actually ranked 13th out of the 178 nations surveyed. Per capita, according to the survey… we have double the estimated gun ownership rate of Australia and Mexico, and five times the rate of England.
Canadians have a “long-held belief” about the right to own and use firearms for hunting, target practice and defense, says Sheldon Clare, president of the Edmonton-based National Firearms Association (NFA). “Canadian gun cultures are well entrenched,” he adds.
#2 Our Health-Care system is amazing
When telling the world about Canada, Universal health-care is a source of pride for us Canadians. We prefer our health-care system to that in the United States by a rate of ten to one, according to a 2009 Harris/Decima survey. But do we have any doubts about it? Data suggests we do!
A 2010 report by the Health Council of Canada noted that 52 per cent of Canadians believe “fundamental changes” are required to make our health-care system work better; ten per cent want it completely rebuilt.
The report drew upon the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey, which looks at attitudes in 11 Western countries, including Canada, the United States, the U.K., Australia, France and Sweden. In the 2010 survey, Canada ranked poorly in timeliness of care and was tied for last place with Norway when it came to the ability of patients to get doctors’ appointments the same or next day. Furthermore, according to the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank, wait times for specialists in Canada rose to just over 18 weeks in 2010—96 percent longer than those in 1993.
#3: We love Hockey
According to Statistics Canada, just 11 per cent of boys and girls age five to 14 in our country play hockey as a regular activity—that’s fewer than swimming (12 per cent) and far less than soccer (20 per cent). Among Canadian adults, the most popular sporting activity is golf, which first bumped hockey out of the top spot in 1998.
Attention is also waning among fans. A book titled The Emerging Millennials, by University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby, found that teenagers’ interest in the NHL has dropped from 45 per cent to 35 per cent in the past two decades, and that only three in ten adults follow professional hockey very or fairly closely.
#4 We are more knowledgeable than Americans
Canadians often accuse Americans of being ignorant—especially about our country. But when it comes to Canadian history, it turns out we’re not particularly well-informed, either.
In 2009, the Dominion Institute (now the Historica-Dominion Institute, an independent body dedicated to promoting a greater knowledge of Canadian heritage) asked Canadians to identify ten famous figures in photographs. Only 41 per cent of Canadians could identify Sir John A. Macdonald (our first prime minister), and just 19 per cent recognized Tommy Douglas (the “father of Medicare”). About one quarter of Canadians couldn’t name Pierre Trudeau or Wayne Gretzky.
In another Dominion Institute survey, 47 per cent of Canadians did not know the first line of the national anthem and 39 per cent couldn’t identify the year of Confederation (1867).
#5 Canadians are very tolerant
In a 2010 survey for the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute, 27% of Canadians felt that the number of immigrants and refugees arriving in Canada each year was a “crucial risk” to Canadian interests.
When the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Centre surveyed 47 nations about their attitudes towards immigration in 2007, majorities in 44 countries—including Canada—felt that “we should restrict and control the entry of people into our country more than we do now.” 62 per cent of Canadians agreed.
Moreover, 30 per cent of Canadians (and 41 per cent of people age 55-plus) told a 2010 survey by Angus Reid that multiculturalism has been bad for Canada. In the same survey, 33 per cent of respondents felt that Canadian society is intolerant towards Muslims, and 24 per cent believe we are intolerant towards immigrants from South Asia.