More than half of people around the world say they would abandon their homelands and move to Canada if they could.
Given the choice, 53 per cent of adults in the world's 24 leading economies said they would immigrate to Canada, according to an international survey commissioned by the Historica-Dominion Institute in partnership with the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Aurea Foundation.
It's a startling finding, one that is reinforced by respondents' overwhelmingly positive attitudes about Canada's welcoming and tolerant treatment of newcomers. The results bode well for Canada's efforts to attract highly educated immigrants as the global search for talent heats up in coming years.
"Canada is considered desirable for people all around the world. The shining city on the hill, as America was, and remains, for many people," said Andrew Cohen, president of the Historica-Dominion Institute.
"Largely, it's because we welcome immigrants. We do not have anti-immigration parties in Canada. Almost every European country has one. We do not have a skinhead movement in Canada. So that speaks well of Canada and may point to our greatest success of the last 25 years, which is the manner in which we have continued to welcome immigrants."
The tilt toward Canada is most pronounced in the emerging economies of the G20. More than three-quarters of those surveyed in China said they would prefer to live in Canada, followed by Mexico and India at close to 70 per cent. Slightly more than half of Britons, Italians and Russians said the same, while about four in 10 French and Germans would also choose Canada. Citizens of Japan and Sweden, followed by the United States and Australia, were the least interested in moving to Canada, with only one in five Swedes saying they would make the move.
Janice Stein, director of the Munk School at the University of Toronto, said the survey suggests Canada can thrive in the looming global talent wars.
"In terms of our economic future, our social future, our capacity to innovate, on all these dimensions that intelligent Canadians think about all the time, these are enormously encouraging data," Prof. Stein said. "The developed world is getting old very quickly. … We are going to have to recruit globally as everybody else does."
The reasons for Canada's relative attractiveness are clear: 86 per cent of respondents around the globe said Canada is a country where rights and freedoms are respected; 72 per cent said Canada is welcoming to immigrants; 79 per cent said Canadians are tolerant of people from different racial and cultural backgrounds; and 79 per cent said Canadians have one of the best qualities of life.
On most questions Canadians feel more strongly about their openness and tolerance than non-Canadians. Ninety-four per cent of Canadians say Canada is welcoming to immigrants, more than in any other country, but China and India, which have the largest diasporas in Canada, are not far behind.
"Of course we think we are [generous, open and tolerant,]Prof. Stein said. "Are we more vain than other publics? I doubt it."
Canada's reputation in some areas is even stronger than Canadian vanity. Citizens of five countries, South Africa, Australia, France, Indonesia and South Korea are all more likely than Canadians to describe Canada as a country where rights and freedoms are respected.
Citizens of 10 countries, including China, South Africa, France and Russia, are more likely than Canadians to say Canada is tolerant of people from different racial and cultural backgrounds.