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Most Canadians concerned about Chinese interference in society: Nanos

The vast majority of Canadians are at least somewhat concerned about Chinese interference in Canadian society, according to a poll from Nanos Research commissioned by CTV News.

More than 90 per cent of Canadians said they were either concerned (59 per cent) or somewhat concerned (32 per cent) about "China's interference in Canadian society." Those aged 55-plus (68 per cent concerned, 27 per cent somewhat concerned) appear to be more intensely worried than those aged 18 to 34 (43 per cent concerned, 44 per cent somewhat concerned).

From Nanos Research survey

The poll's results come after top federal officials said the outcomes of the last two federal elections were not compromised by foreign actors, despite being aware of Chinese efforts to interfere.

A parliamentary study into foreign interference has ramped up in recent weeks amid recent reports, including those citing unnamed CSIS sources, alleging attempts by China to meddle, including claims that specific MPs or candidates were targeted by China, in an effort to re-elect Liberals. China's embassy in Ottawa has called the allegations of interference attempts "purely baseless and defamatory."

Officials maintain Canadians should have full confidence in the outcomes of the last two federal elections, and there were no spikes in interference efforts during those campaigns.

Nearly everyone who responded to the poll agreed China's attempts to interfere in Canada’s most recent federal election is a threat to our democracy. More than 70 per cent of Canadians said it's a major threat, while 23 per cent said it's a minor threat.

People who live in the Prairies are more likely to say attempted Chinese interference in the most recent Canadian election is a major threat than those living in the Atlantic region.

About 18 per cent of poll respondents said Canada is either doing a good (15 per cent) or very good (three per cent) job at protecting the country from foreign interference. Just under 40 per cent answered poor (20 per cent) or very poor (19 per cent) when asked the same question, according to the poll. About 30 per cent said the country is doing an average job.

Asked about Nanos’ findings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that he shares Canadians’ concerns about interference from China as well as other foreign governments. But, he pointed to the suite of mechanisms that the Liberals have brought in since 2015 aimed at shoring up Canadian institutions against interference and increasing capacities to detect, deter, and counter foreign meddling attempts.

“So, not only do I share the preoccupations of Canadians, we have taken action, significant actions over the past eight years to increase our ability to do that," Trudeau said.

"But it is an ongoing challenge, not just in politics, in business, in academia, and research. And that is why we continue to strengthen our capacity to respond to that because Canadians need to know that our institutions hold and Canadians need to be reassured that they will continue to hold into the future."

Two-in-three Canadians said they're trying to buy fewer goods from China compared to five years ago, while one-in-four say they buy about the same amount. Only one per cent of respondents said they would try to buy more Chinese goods.

Fifty per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 34 are less likely to say they are buying less from China than those aged 35 to 54 as well as those aged 55 and older.

METHODOLOGY

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,012 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between Feb. 26 and March 1st, 2023, as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land-and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.

Individuals randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs.

The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

With files from Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello 

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