Darrell Bricker, CEO for Ipsos Global Public Affairs, opened the IABC Canada Business Communicators Summit in Ottawa last week with his keynote address: The Big Shift: understanding communications in New Canada.
Public relations professionals from across the nation learned that Canada, once one of the world’s most consensual countries, is polarizing with the west versus the east, suburban versus urban and immigrants versus old school.
Bricker said that we are in the midst of a transition to a new Canadian mindset. Old Canada was about English and French. It was more rural, and our national policy was driven by the politics of the elite. People trusted public authority.
New Canada is urban, multi-cultural, older, more female, tolerant, opinionated, demanding and somewhat libertarian. Canadians are now less engaged with traditional institutions and they care less about government. However, they are still passionate about key issues.
“Demography isn’t destiny,” said Mr. Bricker. “Canada has the fastest growing population in the G8 – even faster than the USA. However, the fertility rate is below replacement levels; it’s actually immigration that is driving growth.”
Life expectancy is increasing especially for women which means that Canada is becoming more female and by 2015, only a few years down the road, senior citizens will outnumber children for the first time ever in the nation’s history.
Bricker explained, “If education is your profession, you better start thinking about seniors, because they are coming at you like a tsunami.”
In addition, Canada has become an urban nation; immigrants are drawn to our cities. Approximately 20 per cent of the people who now live in Canada were born somewhere else. In Toronto, it’s 50 per cent. The Philippines is the biggest country of immigration, followed by India, China and then, at some distance, the UK.
“It’s now easier to get into Canada than it has ever been,” said Bricker. “The number of immigrants has tripled since 1986, and these are people who are bringing skills into our nation.”
In terms of population growth, all regions east of Ontario are lagging. The provinces of Ontario and Alberta are the major population growth areas are, and this fuelling a big shift.
It’s about Canada’s relative success and positive global image. “We are on a roll,” said Bricker. “And, the rise of suburban Toronto and the West as power centers means Quebec doesn’t matter as much politically as it did in the past. There’s a feeling now that it’s OK to support the monarchy and the military, for example.”
- Stronger focus on ‘right of centre’; less on ‘left of centre’ ones.
- The importance of international trade to our economy has quadrupled.
- Government has a bigger share of the Canadian economy.
- Consumer citizen mindset has changed.
- Canadians say their country’s economy is good.
- English is becoming the common language globally.
- A wholesale decline in public trust (except as it relates to soldier and military).
Darrell Bricker is Chief Executive Officer, Ipsos Public Affairs. Ipsos Public Affairs conducts corporate reputation and social research around the world. The company, a Division of Ipsos, the world’s second largest market research firm, has offices in 25 countries and a staff of 700 research professionals.