Americans feel big love for Canada

WASHINGTON — Hey, Canada: Americans like us.

WASHINGTON — Hey, Canada: Americans like us. They really, really like us. In fact, they like us better than anyone, anywhere on the planet.

Nearly all Americans, a full 96 per cent, have a favourable view of Canada, according to a new Gallup survey. That’s the loftiest ranking for any foreign country since Gallup began the poll two decades ago.

America’s neighbour to the north has long been the darling of the survey.

“Canada’s 93 per cent ratings in 1987 and 1989 were the previous high favourable for any country,” the pollster said in a release.

This year’s love-in comes despite the Obama administration’s recent decision to reject Calgary-based TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, and amid a spate of lower-profile trade irritants between the two nations.

The poll was released just hours after Canada’s environment minister, Peter Kent, appeared alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to announce Canada was joining a U.S.-led effort to combat global warming.

Canada has been a subject of conversation on Capitol Hill this week as well. New York state lawmakers urged Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, to consider Buffalo’s Peace Bridge as a pilot pre-inspection centre as part of the recently announced Beyond The Border initiatives.

“That’s a very, very important border crossing at the Peace Bridge for commerce, for our shared communities in the United States and Canada,” Democratic congressman Brian Higgins told her.

Why are we so beloved?

“Other than the fact that you’re so darn loveable?” asks Christopher Sands, an Canada-U.S. relations expert at the Hudson Institute thinktank in Washington.

“There are a lot of positives. Americans loved the Winter Olympics last year, Canada was in Afghanistan and that got a lot of press here, the Canadian economy is good and that’s impressive; there’s simply an absence of negatives,” he said.

“You’re never attacked any of our embassies, you don’t want to direct any missiles at us and unlike the southern border, there are no problems with organized crime or drug crimes — you’re peaceful and stable. What’s not to love? Our love is genuine.”

But the survey suggests Canada better keep its eye on the Aussies — Australia is right behind us in second place at 93 per cent. Great Britain is in third at 90 per cent.

Iran, meantime, ranks last at 10 per cent. North Korea is in second last at 13 per and Afghanistan rounds out the bottom three at 14 per cent. China’s ratings are also continuing a downward spiral evident in the last few surveys.

Indeed, the countries with the lowest ratings are overwhelmingly located in the Middle East or Asia.

The rank of Cuba, meanwhile — a country that has fared poorly in the Gallup survey in the past — is rising. It’s at 37 per cent, up seven per cent from 2011’s rating. Only 10 per cent gave Cuba the thumb’s up in 1996, its worst year.

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