Shouldn't we be smart enough, we individual products of the "greatest public education system yet conceived," to know when we have it good? If everything is so rosy why then do four levels of government annually squander millions of our tax dollars in an agitating attempt to convince us that we live in the greatest city (or town), in the greatest province, and the greatest country in the world? I don't have to be persuaded to reach for a juicy red apple. Do you?
"Canada's most satisfied citizens found in Saint John, N.B." (CanWest News Service), December 29, 2007 [Link] Saint John! That's the city I was born into, raised and educated in. And it's also a city which hardly ever makes the news out here on the left coast. So what gives? Why was Vancouver ranked eleventh on the "happy" list? Was this just a sneaky propaganda handout from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ? Well no. The lead researcher on the project was John Helliwell, an economist employed here at the University of B.C. and a fellow actually born in Vancouver. A rare boast!
It turns out that Canada's great multi-cultural centres are wonderful engines of commerce, but our smaller cities, which tend to be mono-cultures, are the places where people are more content with their lives. Well, I am no liar. I admit that cultural makeup is just one factor making Saint Johners more content than Vancouverites. But this is a blog, not a book. ...Hell, many in S.J. would rankle at the suggestion that they live in a mono-culture. Everything is relative. My wife, a Taiwanese, is a devout Tao and did not enjoy her brief life in Saint John. She does not share my nostalgia.
Rather than bitch about the barrage of propaganda, I guess I'll arm myself for the good fight... with more sustained and careful reading and listening.
The City of Saint John is not a topic which jumps to the lips of the average Vancouverite or... scarcely anyone on this coast. They will simply sneer at the implications of this charming little poll. Still, Helliwell's research is global in nature and these people do love to ponder anything smacking of GLOBALIZATION. He has their ear when he compares their town to any "World Class" rival. It remains to be decided if Dr. Helliwell is a "world class" economist, but his report on Canada's happiest cities added a little zest to the conversation in our household over Christmas.