Canadians view own country favourably but many unsure about Canada's system of government: survey
Canadian and United States flags are seen flying near Parliament Hill, March 22, 2023, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
A recent study by the Angus Reid Institute found Canadians view their country more positively than Americans do — but only a slight majority of people in Canada believe their system of government is good.
The results of the online survey, released Thursday, show 78 per cent of Canadians view their country as caring, compared to 36 per cent of Americans who said the same about the U.S.
Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians say they live in a safe country, while 43 per cent of Americans say they do.
Sixty-two per cent of Canadians also believe their country contributes positively to world affairs compared to only 39 per cent of Americans.
"Canadians' perceptions of their country have become more positive in the last 12 months," the report says.
"In January 2022, the country was dealing with the Omicron wave of COVID-19 with public health restrictions. Majorities of Canadians said on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the pandemic that COVID-19 pulled Canadians apart and brought out the worst in people. Perhaps time has healed some of those divisions."
The online survey took place between March 15 and 17 and involved "a representative randomized sample" of 1,649 Canadians, and 1,025 Americans, the institute said.
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT
Although more Canadians than Americans believe their system of government is good, only a slight majority of Canadians – 51 per cent – said so compared to 34 per cent in the U.S.
The remaining respondents either said their system of government is not good or were unsure.
Positive attitudes about Canada's system of government were highest in Quebec at 57 per cent and lowest in Alberta (38 per cent) and Saskatchewan (33 per cent).
Taking a closer look at the data, men are less likely than women — 47 per cent compared to 54 per cent — to say Canada's system of government is good.
The same is true of younger Canadians who are generally less likely to say the country has a good system of government at 44 per cent of those 18-34 and 48 per cent of people 35-54, compared to 56 per cent of Canadians 55 and older.
However, some variations exist when comparing men and women of different generations and when broken down into smaller age groups.
Across household incomes, Canadians making $50,000 a year or less were the only group where fewer than 50 per cent said Canada has a good system of government.
Fewer than half of Canadians with a college or trade school education or less also viewed Canada's system of government positively.
Forty-eight and 45 per cent of Indigenous and visible minority respondents, respectively, said Canada's system of government is good, compared to 52 per cent of non-visible minority respondents.
POLITICAL AND REGIONAL DIFFERENCES
How Canadians see their country also varied depending on their political alignments, with those who voted Liberal in the 2021 federal election generally viewing Canada more positively compared to Conservative, Bloc Quebecois and NDP voters.
On the same question of whether Canada has a good system of government, Liberal voters were most likely to say it does at 77 per cent, while only 30 per cent of Conservative voters said so.
Regionally, Canadians generally agreed that Canada is a safe and caring society.
Quebec respondents were most likely to say Canada is a country they are proud to live in at 83 per cent, with respondents in Saskatchewan coming in the lowest at 60 per cent.
Those in Quebec were also more likely to say Canada is a prosperous country at 75 per cent compared to 54 per cent in Saskatchewan.
"Those in Quebec and Saskatchewan find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to assessing the country they live in," the report says. "Saskatchewan residents are typically more critical, while Quebecers offer more praise."
On racial divisions, however, Quebec respondents were the least likely to say the country is racially divided at 25 per cent. Saskatchewan was the only region where a majority of respondents — 51 per cent — believed the country is racially divided.
HOW CANADIANS AND AMERICANS SEE EACH OTHER
Canadians' views of the United States have improved in some categories compared to more than a year ago.
Forty-seven per cent of people now say the U.S. is a positive player in world affairs compared to 36 per cent in January 2022.
Slightly more people — 27 per cent — view the U.S. as a caring society, up from 24 per cent; 34 per cent say it is a safe country compared to 23 per cent more than a year ago; and 25 per cent say it has a good system of government, up from 20 per cent.
However, fewer Canadians view the U.S. as a prosperous country at 67 per cent compared to 72 per cent in January 2022.
On whether the U.S. is a racially divided country, Canadians' attitudes remained relatively unchanged at about 80 per cent who agree.
As for how Americans view Canada, the United States generally views its northern neighbour more favourably than itself, with 56 per cent of Americans saying Canada is a caring country and 64 per cent saying it's safe.
The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) conducted an online survey from March 15 to 17, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 1,649 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
ARI conducted a second online survey from March 15 to 17, 2023, among a representative randomized sample of 1,025 American adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum USA. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.