Saturday Morning Coffee

International Affairs Specialist by day, Blogger Enthusiast by night. This is a sneak peek into my world that should be enjoyed with ample time and a good and very strong cup of java.

What do Polls Really Say?

I went for a job interview once at a polling company that constructed polls and analysed the data. I thought it could be interesting, especially when the content was dealing with something interesting. Turned out, it wasn’t. But it did highlight the significance of polls in today’s world; be it for the leading marketer of canned soups, the political party in the lead or or the quality of living of global cities – this one was interesting to read in the 2009 Mercer’s Report, released last April and it really made me wonder what the criteria is to be ranked on the list because apparently Vienna came 1st in quality of living! After living there for about 3 years, I can certainly see why it should be on the report, but first? I’m not so sure. Looking closer, in the Americas I see the top 5 being all Canadian cities?!  Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary – Wow! Again, wondering what the criteria is and how each were judged?

It is entirely different to be an insider, living in a city than those looking in, juding it by the statistics and polls. Vienna is beautiful and clean and safe, with efficient transportation systems, bountious leisure activities, close proximity to travel destinations, good social security – tough to find a fault, really. But looking closer, you’ll find a history that continues to affect every-day life, stereotypes bordering on racial behaviour and hidden truths that never seem to surface. I enjoyed my time there, but it was very difficult to get to know locals (language barrier aside)  and even if I did, they were the ones who either were foreigners themselves or had an international character – one in a million. I would definately go back to see my friends or for vacation, but only to visit.

On the other hand, my own country. Wow – still amazed that 5 Canadian cities topped the North American listings! Seems like all we do is criticize one or another government without really taking stock of our situation in comparison to other nations…Clean cities – (sometimes) check! Good social security – (meh) ok, check! Health Care – (ok) check! Multi-culturalism – (depends where you go) check! If all that adds up to excellent quality of life, then the better we are for it! I guess I just have problems seeing it that way also.

In the last months, we have a Parliament that is closed for the season, we’ve earned a negligible human rights record abroad, we’ve degraded the environment for an oil source and we’ve a government that is out of control, all at a time when the biggest sporting event in the world is taking place in Vacouver. It’s a wonder why the PM was replaced by the Governor General at the Opening Ceremonies?

I am a proud Canadian, especially when Canadians are on that podium, but I haven’t been lately in regards to our own government and conduct abroad. I’m also very much a liberal, which perhaps is where my views with the present government’s view collide. I’m wondering though if Canadian cities were amongst the top cities last year, where they’ll stand this year? A lot has happened. But if we’re at the top of the list for ‘quality of life,’ what does that say about people around the world and how they treat each other and how well we’re taking care of our environment?

It’s sad. We have summit after summit, all highlighting a global issue; environment, security, health, economies, all claiming to be working together to reach a common goal. But really, is this what we’re doing or are leaders just using these meetings to critisize and place blame on each other for not adhering to given rules. It seems childish and one that is further complicated by political struggles or troubled economies. But if each of our countries can’t face facts and promote openly their global initiatives, it’s a fat chance that any other country would follow suit. This is what is going through my mind as the G8 approaches.


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February 2010
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