A look at trends in public opinion on a range of subjects shows some divisions are overstated, while others are cause for concern.
During an election campaign, there is no shortage of polls: voters now have access to new numbers about the ups and downs in party fortunes on a more or less daily basis. Beneath the surface of this daily tracking, however, lie broader patterns and trends in Canadian public opinion that matter equally before, during and after the election. We offer a selection of these in the charts below. The survey results are drawn from three different surveys conducted by the Environics Institute – the Canadian portion of AmericasBarometer (2019); Focus Canada (2019); and Confederation of Tomorrow (2019) – as well as from the most recent World Gallup Poll (2018).
They do not lead to any one conclusion or support a particular argument. They do, however, inform a mix of reassuring and unsettling reflections.
For example, it is reassuring in an election year to see that trust in elections themselves and in the mass media that cover them is holding steady. It is less encouraging to see that men are twice as likely as women to have been encouraged to run for public office.
The charts suggest that some concerns about fissures in Canadian society may be overstated: acceptance of immigration, for instance, is not eroding. But other fissures, such as that between regions, are stark. The contrasting trends for the economic outlook in Alberta and Quebec will cast a shadow on any new government’s efforts to find common ground on issues such as on energy, climate change, and equalization.
Yet signs of goodwill remain. Two-thirds say that individual Canadians have a role to play in bringing about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, and a similar proportion have either a great deal or some confidence in the ability of Canadians to resolve their internal differences. In the midst of a fractious election campaign, these are perhaps the most reassuring findings of all.
(Complete information on the surveys that these charts are drawn from is available at https://www.environicsinstitute.org/.
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