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It's official, Canadians live well

It's official, as a nation we're happy; actually, fat and happy. (I'll get to the fat part later.) And for those of you still unravelling the entrails of our recent federal election - unravel no more.

It's official, as a nation we're happy; actually, fat and happy. (I'll get to the fat part later.)

And for those of you still unravelling the entrails of our recent federal election - unravel no more. Our nation's visceral vicissitudes have been revealed in a just-published study of national happiness.

The report, titled The Better Life Initiative survey is compliments of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international organization of 34 developed countries.

The OECD sought to find a broader measure of a country's success other than GDP figures and in doing so it found Canadians are the second happiest people in the world, at least amongst the 34 member nations of the OECD.

Australia edged us out for first place; it's probably their propensity for beer and barbeques, while the U.S.A. came in seventh.

So what does an OECD happiness report have to do with our May 2 federal election and the Stephen Harper majority? I'd say lots.

As an example, the OECD found 67 per cent of people in Canada trust their political institutions and although it's a stretch to say that amount of national trust put the Conservatives in to majority territory, it is fair to conclude a good number of us were comfortable with the Harper administration.

Indeed, that was Harper's message: the country is doing well, I've been Prime Minister for six years, why change?

In politics, many campaigns focus on making your opponent lose, which is why attack ads work. However, most attacks on the Harper administration fell flat. By and large Canadians knew our country had faired well during the economic meltdown of the last three years. We knew our banking system was one of the best in the world and inherently a good number of voters knew there was little the opposition parties could do to improve on the Harper record.

In a subtle way, the OECD report makes that point. In all measurable areas of what constitutes well-being and national success, Canada does well.

Life expectancy in Canada is 80.7 years, more than one year above the OECD average. We are well educated with 87 per cent of Canadian adults aged 25 to 64 having the equivalent of a high-school diploma. Looking to the future, 92 per cent of Canadians aged 25 to 34 have the equivalent of a high-school diploma. In reading literacy, Canada is a top-performing OECD country. Education is critical to a sound economic base. It's also essential to improving the social fabric of the nation as a whole.

Although the OECD report makes for great reading and a national pat on the back, this is not to say we don't have room for improvement, and speaking of room, we are getting fatter.

In Canada, two out of every three men are overweight and one in four is obese. However, the growth of our obesity rate is the slowest in all of the OECD countries.

When asked to describe their health in general, 88 per cent of Canadians said they were in good health. The OECD says that although this is a subjective question, the answers have generally been found to be a good predictor of future health outcomes.

Getting back to politics, the OECD report in part explains our electoral move to a majority government led by Stephen Harper. Going into the election, most of us knew Canada was a good place to live. In comparison to the rest of the world our living standards were high, so why change a good thing? In fact, why not improve on a good thing? That question was answered the evening of May 2 and confirmed by the OECD this week.

* * *

Guilty as charged.

Tuesday, Justice Ken Ball found City Councillor Brian Skakun guilty of violating provincial privacy legislation. In 2009, Skakun released a confidential human resources document to CBC radio which posted the report on the radio station's website. The populist buzz surrounding the trial seemed to point to Skakun as some sort of defender against the tyranny of the establishment. Wrong. Skakun is the establishment, he is a City Councillor entrusted with keeping a large body of privileged information confidential. Moreover, put yourself in the shoes of an employee. Would you want a personnel report of yours appearing on a national radio station website? Or the personnel file of your son, daughter or other loved one? I think not.

Judge Ball made the correct decision.