Maple leaf empire - Issue 98 - Magazine | Monocle

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Canada is, of course, a big country – in terms of sheer national landmass, it bows only to Russia. But it also has a big impact on the world – arguably even a disproportionately large one for a country whose population is roughly on a par with those of Poland and Morocco.

Canada being Canada, it generally does this in an unfussy and self-effacing manner, confident both in the quality of what it sends overseas and in its own national brand – on the annual survey of best-liked nations by The Reputation Institute, a consulting firm, the winner is usually Canada. When South Park made a running joke of Canada’s chronic villainy, they did so precisely because they knew that the entire planet would laugh at the preposterousness of the notion.

Canada’s international stock has risen even higher since the election of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in late 2015. Indeed, Trudeau’s principal motivation often seems to have been a desire to confirm everyone else’s fondest impressions of Canada: decent, inclusive, reliable and friendly. Canada may tread softly beyond its own borders but – despite or because of this – it nevertheless wields a powerful and wide-ranging influences. Here are a few: 


Caribbean: submarines

If you go to sea on a tourist sub in Aruba, Barbados or Grand Cayman, or further afield in Hawaii or Guam, you’ll be riding on a craft built by Atlantis submarines of Vancouver. The Canadian navy wishes it could have a more reliable fleet of its own however.


Georgia: aeroplanes

The planes (and trains) built by Montréal’s Bombardier can be found all over the world. Four of Georgian Airways’ six aircraft are Bombardier C-series regional jets.


Haiti: UN peacekeeping

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have contributed to the Minustah mission since 2004; Canadian police have served in Haiti in one capacity or another since as far back as 1993.


Hong Kong: people

The largest Canadian expat community is, unsurprisingly, next door in the US. The second largest is Hong Kong, home to about 300,000 Canadian citizens.


Iceland: first lady

Ottawa-born journalist Eliza Reid became Iceland’s first lady when her husband, history professor Gudni Johanneson, became Iceland’s president in June. Canada also claims the biggest population of Icelandic descent outside the country.


India: lentils

Counterintuitive though it may appear, India is the world’s largest importer of lentils, while Canada is the biggest exporter. Indians ate 1.5 million tonnes of Saskatchewan lentils in 2015.


Iraq: special forces

Soldiers from the Canadian Special Forces Operation Regiment, based in the Ottawa Valley, have been training Kurdish peshmerga fighting Isis.


Japan: maple syrup.

The pancake-crazy US is Canada’s biggest customer for the sweet sauce but Japan is second best, consuming about 10 per cent of what Canada exports.


Latvia: Nato troops

Early 2017 will see 450 Canadian soldiers deployed to the Baltics to form the core of a multi-national Nato brigade intended to deter Russia from getting any funny ideas.


Madagascar: nickel mining

Toronto’s Sherritt International operates – and owns 40 per cent of – the vast Ambatovy Nickel Project. Canadian investment in mining across Africa runs to CA$30bn (€22.7bn).


Papua New Guinea: coins

The Papuan paying for anything with a pocketful of toea is doing so with Canadian produce but he or she isn’t alone. The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg has made coins for at least 89 other countries.


Russia: ice hockey

Starring in the defence of Kontinental Hockey League champions Metallurg Magnitogorsk is Ontario’s own Chris Lee. Metallurg’s Canuck connection doesn’t end there: head coach during their previous Gagarin Cup win, in 2014, was the legendarily irascible Mike Keenan, also Canadian.


Saudi Arabia: armoured vehicles

Rather belying the cuddly image that Justin Trudeau is keen to promote, in 2015 Canada was second only to the US as an arms retailer to the Middle East. The sale of light armoured vehicles to the Saudi Arabian National Guard has been especially controversial.


UK: economic stability

During the political tumult generated by the UK’s decision to leave the EU in June, it often seemed as though the only grown-up left in charge was Bank of England governor Mark Carney – born in Fort Smith, raised in Edmonton.


USA: oil

Canada sells more oil to the US than any other single country – in some months more than all of Opec combined.


Kyrgyzstan: gold mining

More than half the world’s publicly listed mining companies are headquartered in Canada, some of which are occasionally accused of conducting business in regrettably un-Canadian fashion: Centerra’s Kumtor project in Kyrgyzstan’s eastern mountains has been the subject of protests over its environmental impact.


Turks and Caicos islands: dreams of unification

The idea of this Caribbean archipelago becoming Canada’s 11th province has been floating around Canadian politics for decades. The prospect of its own Hawaii is obviously appealing, especially in January, but the level of enthusiasm on the islands themselves is debatable.

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