La 42e élection fédérale peut se dépeindre comme une pièce en quatre actes, qui, aux yeux des Canadiens, portait sur les valeurs.
The 42nd federal election was a unique and historically important election. The public judgement expressed in this election reveals some clear features of our changing society. And by exploring the true meaning and significance of this election, I hope to highlight how these results point to a broader and fairly significant redirection of Canadian society as a whole.
To do so, I needed to weave this analysis into a story that captures the rhythms, movements and forces that resulted in the surprising return of the Liberals from a decade in the political wilderness to a majority victory. The real meaning of the election becomes clear only when set in the broader context of another surprising majority, that of May 2011. Many have written on this topic already, but I approach it slightly differently: through the lens of the Canadian citizenry.
The evidential base is unusually strong. Using three separate probability-based survey platforms, Ekos conducted over 130 thousand interviews in the period from January 2015 up to the election in October 2015, and about that many again in the period from the last election in 2011 up to the beginning of 2015. We have an unparalleled inventory of tracking and diagnostic measures that allows us to unpack this election in ways that are not possible elsewhere.
The tale of this election can, I suggest, be seen as a four-act play. The postscript – the next four years – is of course unwritten. But I argue that a real understanding of the outcome of the election is possible only within the broader context of the past four years.
I suggest that the seeds of this dramatic return to a progressive government were sown in the prologue to what I have called a morality play (focused as it is on values or moral sentiments). The final results of this election reflect a vigorous public judgment rooted in the growing normative tension between Stephen Harper’s conservatism and the dominant values of a progressive majority. It also reflects a rising discomfort with the withering of middle-class progress and a rejection of the neoliberal model of minimal government, austerity and trickle-down economics. I believe that this result is revealing of how Canadian society is evolving, and that the lessons of this period have broader implications for the prospects for progressive politics in other settings. I would argue that this result shows one public solution to the paradox of an increasingly progressive citizenry being held hostage to the shrinking conservative values of an aging minority. Or put another way, we can ask: why do progressives win all of the key culture wars yet have much less success in winning the political wars?
I begin with a prologue to the play.
The prologue begins on the night of May 2, 2011, when Stephen Harper achieved the strong, stable majority he was seeking with a share of popular vote that was almost identical to the one Justin Trudeau received on October19, 2015. This astonishing result baffled the pollsters and dispirited the progressive majority of Canada. By an eerily similar 39.6 percent (versus the Liberals’ 39.5 percent four years later), the Conservatives had secured a majority that seemed shocking in light of a clear disconnect with the expressed values and interests of most Canadians. The paradox of a minority-majority was further reinforced by the fact that only 24 percent of all Canadian voters provided the mandate for what became Stephen Harper’s absolutist approach to power by.
This result was also fashioned from the extremely uneven turnout across generational lines. The increasingly smaller youth voter segment had turned out at nearly half the rate it did in 1993, and it had not been favourable to the incumbent. The influence of a burgeoning cohort of seniors, who voted at a very high rate, along with the tepid turnout from younger and progressive Canada, was the key to this majority. Some argued that we were seeing the installation of a sclerotic gerontocracy fashioned on the exaggerated and imagined fears of older people.
In their 2015 book The Big Shift, Darryl Bricker and John Ibbitson offered a more optimistic scenario — that this was part of a shift that would see the Conservative Party replacing the Liberal Party as the new natural governing party of Canada. Their thesis was much broader than this, but in my analysis I offer something of a correction, suggesting that these tectonic shifts were perhaps more apparent than real, and that a return to Liberal majority is a reflection of a deeper values contest. Indeed, rather than a large-scale cultural or demographic shift, these election results represent the end of a detour that took until 2015 to undo. While there were several Conservative provincial governments in place in Canada at the time Stephen Harper attained his majority, today the vast majority of provincial governments are progressive.
Even though the final federal election outcome was always highly uncertain, it appeared that the majority of the electorate was determined to do two things: retire Stephen Harper and install a government that was clearly progressive. This impulse was rooted in what we can call a public judgment that rested on reflection and values – I borrow that idea from sociologist Daniel Yankelovich’s 1991 book.
The opening act shows the impacts of the Harper majority on the Canadian public. It didn’t take very long after the results of May 2011 to see acute buyer’s remorse emerging in response to the Harper government, which now took majority control of the federal government. And it revealed the increasing incommensurability of the two Canadas that now occupied the country. The roughly one-third of citizens who favoured the Conservatives had a very distinct profile in terms of demography and values. Conservative Canada was older, more likely to be male, less educated, and was located to the west of the Ottawa River. They fared relatively better in the economy and were far more attracted to the fiscal and social values of Harper conservatism than was the rest of the country.
Progressive Canada was decidedly unhappy with the trajectory of the country and the federal government. Barometers of trust, approval, and confidence in national direction plumbed new lows – and did so throughout this period. This clearly documented democratic malaise was exacerbated by a growing sense that the economy wasn’t working the way it had in the past, and that the shared prosperity that underpinned the healthy growth of the last half of the 20th century was being replaced by an ill-defined sense that we were moving collectively towards an “end of progress.” The middle-class bargain, a social contract upon which Canadians had built modern postwar society, seemed to be broken. Even the moderately more favourable post-2008 performance of the Canadian economy gave way to renewed stagnation and pessimism.
Moreover, the early rhetorical flourishes of the Harper government – which had signalled a hard right approach to government – were now being translated into more definitive policy decisions. The federal state was diminished (to just 13.5 percent of GDP) and the key policy directions of the Harper government were increasingly at odds with the values of the majority of citizens. Whether it was the “tough on crime” approach, the shuttering of research and the abandoning of evidence-based decision making, or the much more militaristic foreign policy with an unblinking pro-Israel stance, collectively these positions were increasingly disconnected from what the majority still considered core values and the public interest.
In the era of the permanent campaign, politics is always salient, but this reached a new intensity with the Harper government. With the entry of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, there was a major shakeup in the political landscape of Canada. There had been lots of fluidity in the electorate since Stephen Harper assumed power, but most of this was the slow movement of progressive voters seeking an antidote to the protracted period of Conservative rule.
In the 2011 election, more small-l liberals voted NDP than voted Liberal, and many Liberal voters stayed home. The emergence of another Trudeau seemed to initiate a new movement in this slow dance of the promiscuous voter. A year after assuming the leadership of the Liberal Party, it seemed that Justin Trudeau was on an unstoppable path to victory forged from his focus on middle class renewal and a more optimistic and progressive agenda. Indeed, in a piece Ekos released exactly one year ahead of the 2015 election, we found the Liberals were in almost the same position that were in on election night in October (38.5 percent, compared with their Election Day showing of 39.5 percent).
The path to Liberal victory was, however, not to be a smooth and uninterrupted march to power. In Act III, the precampaign period, we see all kinds of permutations with the Conservatives strengthening, the NDP re-establishing ownership of the progressive segment, and the Liberals slowly but seemingly surely sliding into political oblivion. These new shifts begin, however, with a very specific set of events.
But then, “events, my dear boy, events.”
As Harold Macmillan famously noted, political events can transform a campaign, and in the fall of 2014 they did just that. The shooting on the Hill and the tragic attack in a parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu reignited concerns about security and terror. Prime Minister Harper shrewdly exploited these concerns in, for example, his declaration that Islamic Jihadism had become the greatest immediate threat to Canada.
And just as these events saw Stephen Harper rise in the polls and approval ratings, Justin Trudeau began to sink, slowly but surely. This was aided by his decision to support C-51, which put wind in the sails of Tom Mulcair and the NDP. And in this newly salient context of national security and terrorism, the clear movement of university-educated Canada away from the Liberals to the NDP was undoubtedly linked to Trudeau’s position. The shocking installation of an NDP majority in Alberta, Canada’s most conservative province, in May 2015, added further momentum to the NDP federally. Between the October shootings and the May 2015 election of the provincial NDP in Alberta, the Liberals dropped from a significant 12-point lead to third place, in a three-way tie.
In contrast, the NDP’s movement during this period was entirely in the opposite direction, and the party would remain in the lead in the polls until the longest campaign since 1872 was well underway. Act III saw the Conservatives recovering, and the NDP replacing the Liberals as the most likely champions of the promiscuous progressives.
The net result of this precampaign period was a view toward October 19 that was as clear as mud.
This was a highly unusual and important election. Consider the beginning of the campaign. In what had been a tight three-way race, the NDP now found itself in first place with the Conservative Party, sandwiched between it and the suddenly trailing Liberal Party. In the past six elections, the Liberals have never improved their position in the polls between the beginning of the campaign and Election Day, and in four of those six campaigns they actually fell backward. Peter Newman’s gloomy prognosis of the death of the Liberal Party in his 2011 book had become suddenly more plausible.
During the first month of the campaign the voters paid it little attention, but growing attention was paid to the Duffy affair, which seemed to have a real but ephemeral effect on Stephen Harper’s prospects. It may have been that the long campaign wasn’t about simply maximizing the financial advantage of the much larger Conservative coffers. Placing the Duffy circus well before voting day would give sufficient time to erase any corrosive impacts of this affair on the Conservative Party, and in hindsight that is exactly what happened. While the movements were modest, the Liberals showed significant but gentle upward movement over the month, and the NDP showed moderate decline.
There was an early debate, and Justin Trudeau showed up (with pants no less). From our polling, it appears that Justin Trudeau’s debate performances were a modest factor in his comeback. As a corollary, Tom Mulcair, with a frozen smile reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining, didn’t seem to help his cause much. Overall, however, not much else seemed to be happening, as a reluctant electorate was more preoccupied with barbeques than stump speeches. But once again, as August drew to a close, events intervened. In short order, two events that would profoundly alter the course of the election coalesced.
The first occurrence was the opposite decisions made by Mulcair and Trudeau on the issue of balanced budgets. Shortly after Mulcair announced his commitment to balanced budgets, Trudeau took the vividly different position of borrowing to support major investments to stimulate the economy. These two policy stances marked a clear turning point in Liberal and NDP fortunes.
The second event was tragic drowning of a Syrian child; this event and its effects was probably the point that demarcated the shift from an important election about the economy to an historic election about Canadian values. The short-term benefits to the Conservative Party from this and the related culture war around the niqab were eventually eclipsed, and the election became a broader contest about foundational values. Harper may have had the high ground on the specific public opinion around the niqab and citizenship ceremonies, but he was emphatically in the inferior position when the debate widened to a vision contest about which values would define Canada in the future. Let’s turn back to the fateful contradictory positions taken by Mulcair and Trudeau on balanced budgets.
If Trudeau’s position a year earlier in support of C-51 vaulted Tom Mulcair into the lead as the champion of promiscuous progressives, the two parties’ starkly different positions on the balanced budget issue had an even more profound and permanent effect. In one of the most dramatic political stumbles in Canadian history, Tom Mulcair went from knocking on the door of 24 Sussex to being reduced to the leader of a diminished third party. Nothing was more instrumental in this fall from electoral grace than the decision to commit to balanced budgets.
While these opposed positions cast Mulcair and Trudeau as Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne in a national reprise of the 2014 Ontario election, the final outcome of this election was also shaped by the events and campaign strategies following the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis began with the searing image of the drowned three-year-old boy, Alan Kurdi, on the front pages of Canadian newspapers.
The initial impacts were both baffling and depressing to progressive Canada. After an initial consensus that Stephen Harper had committed a fatal error in his hard-hearted treatment of this issue, something became surprisingly clear in our tracking. The Conservative Party started to grow support and raise the engagement levels of their constituency. Many of the lapsed Conservative voters from 2011 who had been sitting in the undecided camp returned to the fold. Our results at the time (September 2 to 8, 2015) suggested a rise in Conservative fortunes and, as we noted at the time, signalled for the first time the possibility of another Conservative government.
So while events intervened once more to shift the parties’ electoral fortunes, it was this deeper reshaping of the electoral context that ultimately defined the closing stages of the election campaign
There were other factors at play, but none was more important than the role of values and emotional engagement. The voters clearly told us this and the rhythm and shifts of voters in the campaign revealed this. As evidence, note that voters told us this election had very large stakes both for them personally and for the country. This was reflected in high levels of expressed emotional engagement (something missing in 2011 from centre-left voters), and this was then expressed in real behaviour. Nearly 3 million voters missing from the last election showed up this time. Most of these voted Liberal.
The two exhibits below demonstrate just how salient values were in shaping the outcome of this election and how the emotional engagement advantage had shifted to progressive voters (who were more discouraged in 2011). It was the values contest that produced these unusually high levels of emotional engagement.
While Stephen Harper enjoyed the high ground on the narrow question of whether women should be allowed to wear a niqab at a citizenship ceremony, he was in a decisively inferior position on the broader values questions that ensued. Clearly, Canadians favoured a progressive vision for Canada in its preferred foreign policy orientation as well as in the broader question of the proper role of the state and its public institutions.
And when we asked Canadians to consider the significance of the coming election – specifically in value terms – they responded clearly. This election was an important declaration of self-identification, and whether in their determination to remove a 10-year regime or more abstractly as a vote to define collective values, this election meant something to Canadians.
As if the tensions between balanced budgets versus deficits, on the one hand, and the resonant concern about Canadian values, on the other, weren’t enough to sharpen electorate’s minds, this election also featured a late shift in the last week of the campaign, as progressive voters united under the Liberal banner.
We often hear of apocryphal late shifts to explain polling mistakes. But in this election there were large late shifts in the campaign, and several pollsters caught this movement. It is also clearly revealed in our post-election survey completed immediately following the election.
There have been different accounts about the degree to which there was a late shift. In fact, some of the midweek polls, which showed something close to the final outcome, would have to be inaccurate at that time if a late shift had occurred. Most of the probability-based polls (both those using High Definition Interactive Response technology [HD-IVR™] and those conducted by live interviewers) showed a significant late shift, and that was very clearly evident in our late polling as well. Moreover, the post-election survey confirms that a very sizable fraction of voters changed their vote in the last week or even on Election Day.
As the chart below reveals, the electorate’s movements were far more dynamic in this campaign than in 2011, with a significantly lower number of voters making up their minds before the campaign (43 percent in 2015, down from 56 percent in 2011).
We wondered who these late shifters were, and as I have just suggested, this election featured far more movement than we saw in 2011. The vast majority of these shifts ended up favouring the Liberals, and there were some modest but important defections from the Conservative ranks – notably some late changes of mind by seniors. We have long tracked the support of older Canadians for the Conservative Party, but that support crumbled in 2015. Seniors’ support for the Liberals nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015 (while seniors’ support for the Conservatives declined in the late stages) – our first hint perhaps that the intergenerational divide between older Canada and “next Canada” may be healing.
Another factor that was critical in the progressive voters’ success, and in the progressive solution voters found, was in the vote of the university-educated. Perhaps sick of the more acute values clash between themselves and Conservative Canada, this large and growing voter segment was critical to the outcome of the election. Consider this the revenge of the latte-sipping elites who were sick of being pilloried by the anti-intellectualism pervasive in the Harper regime.
And when we look more carefully at the broader population, we see that it was indeed the group of promiscuous progressive voters (which included a large representation of the university-educated and under-50s) that fed into the Liberals’ success. The next chart details the effects of this group that, as I have shown, swung between progressive options over the last few years and that finally made their choice for now-Prime Minster Justin Trudeau. The final majority was a result of multiple factors, but it clearly depended on the huge swing of promiscuous progressive voters to the Liberals. The Liberals ultimately outstripped each of their opponents by a margin of approximately three-to-one.
And if we look carefully at where these switchers went, it was from among the ranks of those originally leaning toward the NDP that the Liberals made their greatest gains. The critical groups are the second and third in the figure below, which show the overwhelming advantage that the Liberals had in attracting Conservative and, even more so, NDP defectors. Anecdotally, it is also interesting that the Green Party that the Green Party showed a similar haemorrhage to the Liberals, which may explain why our late polls showed the Liberals too low and the Greens too high by almost the exact amount of these late shifters.
The Liberals’ victory was built on a solid cascade of returning and new voters throughout the campaign. Their strongest growth occurred during the period from early September to October, and it was linked to the factors I mentioned earlier. But it was the late shift in the last week that ensured their victory and propelled them from minority to majority status.
In Quebec, we saw an election that was distinctly different from the one in the rest of the country. In the early stages of the campaign, Quebecers appeared less engaged, and for a long time the province appeared to be on the way to reproducing the NDP’s success of 2011. It then entered a highly unsettled period with the Niqab debate, which gave a short-term boost to Conservative fortunes. This Conservative advantage quickly faded, however, perhaps mirroring Pauline Marois’ secular charter gambit in the 2014 provincial election.
From the outset of the campaign, the Liberals had a lot of trouble getting political traction in Quebec. They started showing signs of life in the middle of the campaign, although they were hurt when Dan Gagnier, his campaign co-chair, was forced to resign. The late movements were more dramatic and important in Quebec than anywhere else. The Liberals were ultimately able to siphon votes from all three of their competitors.
Quebecers decided late in the campaign that more seats for the Liberals was a better bet to hasten Harper’s exit. There is some evidence that this late shift continued right through to the ballot box, and that it was largely at the expense of the NDP.
New Canadians decided to vote Liberal late in the campaign. This was particularly critical in the restoration of Liberal Party dominance in the 905 and other areas surrounding the GTA. While the new Canadian voters may indeed be somewhat more socially conservative, they too found the extremes of the barbaric practices hotline and Bill C-24 crossed the boundaries of Canadian sensibility.
The ground game also mattered. In 2011, the Conservatives won their majority on the strength of their vastly superior turnout in comparison with those of other parties. Part of this was lower emotional engagement on the part of the centre-left parties, but it was also a reflection of the Conservatives’ superior get-out-the-vote, which was linked to a better ground game. The Conservatives had a more sophisticated voter identification system, which was linked to better get-out-the-vote and most likely vote suppression activities.
The Liberals learned from these activities and invested heavily in a much more sophisticated ground game for this election. Nearly 100,000 volunteers were deployed, and their activities were targeted based on a sophisticated voter identification system that was influenced by Barack Obama’s successful campaigns.
The chart below strongly suggests that contact from the Liberal Party was quite effective in switching voters to the Liberal Party. While other factors may have been at play, it is quite possible that this ground game was a factor that propelled the Liberals into majority territory.
The polls may have had more of an impact on macro strategic voting in this election than in any previous one. Riding-specific initiatives designed to support strategic voting may have been ineffectual and got caught in the problem of a dramatic amount of late movement. However, this election may have seen a more direct causal relationship between the polls and late shifting than we have seen in any previous election. Note the strong positive correlation between influence of the polls and late decision-making.
Our data suggest that the increased 2015 turnout reflected, at least in part, greater participation by younger voters than in recent elections. Whereas voters over 50 constituted a majority (54 percent) of those casting ballots in 2011, the surveys suggest the numbers will show a rough parity between voters over 50 and those under 50 in 2015.
Our data also suggest that the Liberal Party was a clear winner among all age groups, giving the current party broad-based support with respect to age, combining the effects of both greater youth turnout and the shift back to the Liberals among older voters. This stands in sharp contrast to the previous government’s strong support among older voters and lack of support among younger voters.
In 2011, sampling cellphone-only households increased our prediction error. The cellphone-only population was much larger this time than it was in 2011. The cellphone-only population was also much more emotionally engaged and they moved late and decisively to the Liberals. This was another ingredient of the multi-factor explanation for the final majority. As we predicted in the final week of the campaign, the cellphone-only segment of the population was critical to the outcome of the election: “If they show up, Harper loses; if they don’t, he wins.”
They showed up.
The night of October 19 saw progressive Canada make a remarkable recovery, and the culmination of what appears to have been only a temporary “big shift” to a new Conservative order. In hindsight, the result appears to be an almost inevitable restoration of progressive Canada.
The impressive political success of the Harper government was built on an unremitting focus on politics and tactics. But even the swollen war chests, the carpet-bombing of the airwaves with Government of Canada and political advertisements, the targeted boutique tax goodies for desirable voter segments, and the invoking of xenophobic race-baiting and demagoguery in the pursuit of power, none of these were powerful enough to withstand the force of an awakened progressive majority who declared they had simply had enough. In the end, these very culture war tactics – which temporarily had a positive impact on Harper’s prospects – ultimately opened up a values-based vision war that tilted the scales decisively in Justin Trudeau’s favour. As we have seen, an important election about the economy was transformed into an historic election about values. This victory reveals the priority of values-driven public judgment over retail politics and dark ops.
If the 2011 election was all about inertia and retaining advantage, the 2015 election was all about movement. In the most dynamic and engaged election in a generation, the electorate came to a collective judgment that reflected a commitment to restoring a progressive, tolerant and open Canada. The values advantage was also bolstered by a more authentic economic narrative – that progress has halted and that middle class decline needs to be treated promptly and vigorously. And somewhere at the intersection of values and interests lay a clear judgment about the role of the federal state and public institutions.
The tired bumper-sticker simplicity of “lower taxes and less government equals prosperity for all” had unravelled to the point where it has become a cruel hoax. The neoliberal agenda of trickle-down economics and austerity that had been central to Harper’s plan to reconstruct Canada in the lineage of Thatcher and Reagan was cast aside decisively. Recall that Seymour Martin Lipset noted in his 1990 work that one of the enduring value differences between Americans and Canadians was how the two countries respond to “statism” and collectivism.
It was on this critical misunderstanding of progressive Canada that Tom Mulcair made his fatal error of endorsing a balanced budget. Justin Trudeau seized on this and used it to open a huge gulf between the Liberal Party and the front-running NDP. If the lessons from the Ontario election weren’t clear enough, recent polling has shown clearly that a broad swath of progressive voters places a much lower priority on balanced budgets than stimulating growth and cushioning citizens from the fallout of a stagnant economy. At best, Mulcair made the notion somewhat less objectionable to Conservative voters, who weren’t ultimately going to vote for him.
This election result is reminiscent of Rachel Notley’s historic victory in that it was also the result of a “traffic-light coalition” of progressive voters. In the case of the 2015 election, however, the coalition favoured the Liberals and not the NDP. Notley did not make the error of a focus on balanced budgets, but rather ran on a clear progressive platform. In an interesting similarity, both Trudeau and Notley leapt from sub-opposition to clear majority governments. In both cases, the clear trend was toward a progressive option, but not necessarily toward a specific party.
As the curtain closes on this campaign, we are left to ponder what this means for the future of Canada. Citizens told us they saw this as a uniquely important election and our post-election polling confirms almost extravagant expectations for the new government. Having gathered more than 200,000 cases over the last year, we feel very confident in having accurately measured the pulse of the Canadian public. Indeed it has been a story governed by the ebb and flow of their worries and desires for a renewed direction for the country.
We do see a government that has, at least temporarily, erased the deepening generational and social class fault lines that were fracturing the country. Two things are very clear at this early stage. First, this will be a very different government from the one that held power for the last nine years. Second, this government has strongly committed itself to restoring progressive Canada, and this appears to reflect a much stronger connection to the core values of our society at this time.
The renewed success of progressive politics in Canada may be a harbinger of broader trends occurring in the advanced Western world. It may also have implications for our neighbours to the south, as they approach their presidential election. As the Trudeau team clearly benefitted from the lessons from the Obama team, it’s only fair for us to offer up some broad advice based on this important progressive success story.
The role of values as emotional triggers. The key to victory for the progressive movement was transforming the election into an election about values, which are emotionally engaging. Progressive parties have lagged behind the parties of the right in terms of understanding the emotional power of values. Progressive voters in Canada were sick of winning the culture wars and losing the political battles. This reflected a lack of understanding by progressives of just how emotionally resonant a strong values narrative can be. As we know, there is nothing more instrumental to political success than emotional engagement. For the first time since 2000, the Liberal Party spoke passionately and clearly about Liberal values.
The importance of not trying to mimic neoliberalism/fiscal rectitude. At this point, after years of stagnation, the lower taxes/less government mantra has worn thin, and progressive governments are succeeding by focusing on active government, not minimal government. The bumper sticker simplicity of “lower taxes and less government” has been laid bare as a cruel hoax. Consistently, progressive governments that run on a platform of active government and strong public institutions are beating conservative governments running on trickle-down economics and austerity. It really is about restarting middle class progress, and this is seen as a more plausible solution by contemporary voters.
This study was conducted using High Definition Interactive Voice Response (HD-IVR™) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone rather than telling them to an operator. In an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only random digit dialing (RDD), Ekos created a dual landline/cellphone RDD sampling frame for this research. As a result, we are able to reach those with a landline and cellphone, as well as cellphone only households and landline only households. The field dates for this survey were October 20-23, 2015. In total, a random sample of 1,973 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are subdivided (i.e., error margins for subgroups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, region, and educational attainment to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.
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