Canadians are in much better humour about their country, and its standing in the world, than they were a year ago. Fully 63.5 percent of Canadians think the country is moving in the right direction, up from about 52 percent in 2010. And nearly half of Canadians, 48.7 percent, think Canada’s reputation in the world has improved over the last year — up 20 points in one year. You could call it “a Canadian spring.”

These are the principal findings of the fifth annual Mood of Canada poll conducted by Nanos Research for Policy Options. Nanos Research was in the field from October 20 to 24 and polled 1,202 Canadians by telephone. The margin of error for this random survey is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

These are strong numbers for Stephen Harper and his new Conservative majority government. The Prime Minister’s and the government’s approval scores are also much improved over a year ago, with 40.2 percent of Canadians saying their performance was very good or good, up 10 points from 2010. Only 24.3 percent gave them poor or very poor scores, down four points from last year (question 1).

Even on the thorny question of federal-provincial relations, 18 percent of Canadians rate them improved, up from only 12 percent last year, while those who say relations have not improved have declined from 36 to 30 percent (question 3).

But it is the numbers on the country moving in the right direction, and Canadians’ perception of their standing in the world, that show an uptick.

In the five years we’ve been doing the Mood of Canada survey for Policy Options, the right direction upswing is at 63.5 percent, up from 52.2 percent in 2010 (question 2).

The arrival of a “strong, stable, national Conservative majority government,” to quote the PM on the campaign trail, may have something to do with it.

The fact that Canada also has the strongest economic performance of any G7 country coming out of the recession would not have gone unnoticed by Canadians.

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Canada’s superior economic performance is possibly part of “the Canadian spring,” which we see as being multi-faceted in terms of how Canadians see their reputation and standing improving in the world. This “Canadian spring” is relative to the turbulence Canadians are witnessing outside of their borders, including our American neighbour to the south and the Europeans.

With regard to diplomacy and defence, Canadians obviously feel things are improving, with the end of our combat role in Afghanistan, and Canadian participation in and indeed leadership of the NATO mission to Libya, which resulted in the ouster of the Gadhafi regime after more than 40 years of dictatorship. Canadian planes flew more than 10 percent of the 6,000 sorties that gave the rebels ownership of the sky above Libya.

Normally, foreign policy is not a top-of-mind issue and it is seldom a ballot question in elections, but after a low in 2010 of about 28.7 percent of Canadians who thought Canada’s reputation around the world had improved or somewhat improved, that number has jumped to 48.7 percent (question 4).

But as with the right direction numbers, Canadians’ self-perceived reputational data have never gone up so sharply in the five-year history of the Mood of Canada poll.

Photo: Shutterstock

Nik Nanos
Nik Nanos is the chief data scientist and founder of Nanos Research and an adjunct research professor at the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs.

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