The Aussies and us
Australian Prime Minister John Howard's terrific response (ht:Instapundit) to an idiotic question by a dimwitted reporter in London yesterday had Greg Staples thinking about the good folks Down Under. Specifically, Greg questioned the wisdom of allowing Australia to replace Canada as the third leg of the Anglosphere stool.
He commented that by any number of economic measures, Canada should be more important to the UK than Australia. He went on to point out:
...I was struck by how well Australian PM John Howard carried himself and how a bi-lateral meeting between Canada and the UK is pretty much the furthest thing from anyones consciousness. (Babbler's italics)
So by the quick measures I have found Canada should be more important to the United Kingdom than Australia. For political reasons it appears that Canada and the United Kingdom are drifting apart and Australia and the United Kingdom are tightening their relationship.
Canada's influence on international politics is negligible (ht:Inkless) for a country of our size, position, history, and economic clout.
Speaking of economic clout, as Derek Burney pointed out earlier this year, Australia is a natural competitor to Canada, and the similarities between the two nations provide a good opportunity to measure Canadian performance in a number of areas. In fact, a StatsCan paper was written on just that topic:
In the 1990s, Australia’s standard of living increased more rapidly than its Canadian counterpart (2.1% compared to 1.4% in Canada) as a result of higher productivity gains (1.8% compared to 1.3% in Canada) and improved labour utilization performance (0.4% compared to 0.1% in Canada).
Note that we're talking about more than simple GDP per capita, here. StatsCan is talking about a complex formula that blends a number of factors to arrive at a measure for "standard of living."
I won't even mention international athletics. Or military strength (or budget) for that matter.
When folks like me express concern that Canada's place is slipping in the world, that we're not living up to our potential, this is the sort of thing we're talking about. That's why a slogan like "Demand Better" resonates for us.
Successive federal governments over the past few decades (most of them Liberal) have underperformed - not in one specific area, but pretty much across the board - and Canada with them. I have two young children, and I'll be damned if I hand over a country that's worse off, a country of which they can be less proud, than the one I inherited. We need to do better in the years ahead.