In the tense, perplexing era of Donald Trump, a new poll suggests Canadians are overwhelmingly opposed to their country behaving more like the United States.
And in a possible sign of how things change, numbers released by Abacus Data Thursday convey that Canadians now look at China more favourably in some key areas than they do their neighbour to the south.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump arrive to take part in a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 13, 2017. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
A whopping 80 per cent of respondents told the firm that they disagreed with the notion that “Canada should try to be more like the United States.” Only 20 per cent agreed.
In light of Trump’s more combative approach to foreign affairs, the firm asked if Canadians could get behind their country joining the U.S. in an armed conflict against Syria, North Korea, Russia or China. In each hypothetical case, nearly half or more preferred Canada remain neutral or outright oppose military action while pushing for diplomatic answers.
Hypothetical conflicts with Syria or North Korea were more popular, however. Twenty per cent of respondents would want Canada to join a military mission to remove Bashar Assad from power, with 32 per cent preferring the country express support but not participate.Twenty per cent would also like Canada to join a U.S.-led effort in North Korea, with 26 per cent calling only for public support.
The idea of war with China is decidedly unpopular with respondents, with only one-in-10 supporting that scenario. A comparison of China and the U.S. in the eyes of Canadians offers clues why.
When asked which country was doing more to “try to maintain peace and avoid conflict,” 61 per cent of respondents chose China. Fifty-seven per cent said China was “showing a better example of what world leadership should look like,” and 54 per cent said the nation was “more stable and predictable” than the U.S.
But Conservative voters were more likely to break in support of America. Fifty per cent of Tory supporters, for instance, said they see the U.S. as doing more to maintain peace, compared to 39 per cent of Liberal voters.
On the flip side, 84 per cent of respondents said the U.S. was more committed than China to freedom of speech and 61 per cent said Canada’s closest ally was doing more for the poor. Fifty-seven per cent also said the U.S. was “doing more to address climate change and environmental issues.”
In the poll summary, Abacus’ Bruce Anderson and David Coletto write that the impressions reflect not only the strides China has made but the way Canadians see the U.S. now that Trump is in the White House.
“That so few believe Canada should be more like America is an illustration that for many Canadians, Trump’s America is not, for the moment anyway, a ‘shining city on a hill,’” they said in the release.
The online survey was conducted between April 21 and 24 among a random sample of 1,500 adults, chosen from a representative panel of 500,000 Canadians. Abacus Data says a similar poll would have a margin of error of 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.