Canadians have more a positive opinion of the country’s relationship with some major European powers and with Mexico than they do of ties with the United States, according to a new survey.
A Nanos poll found that 86 per cent of Canadian respondents said they have a positive or somewhat positive opinion of Canada’s relationship with the United Kingdom, compared with 82 per cent for Germany, 77 per cent for France and 65 per cent for Mexico. Less than half of Canadians (44 per cent) said they have a positive or somewhat positive opinion of Canada’s relationship with the United States; only 23 per cent said this for China.
Pollster Nik Nanos said U.S. President Donald Trump has had an effect on Canadians’ perception of the country’s relationship with the United States.
“Trump has been much more isolationist and non-co-operative with basically all of his traditional allies, including Canada and Europe. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Canadians are looking at the Europeans as positive partners," Mr. Nanos said.
Forty-four per cent of respondents said they have a negative or somewhat negative opinion of Canada’s relationship with the United States, while 12 per cent said it was neutral and 1 per cent said they were unsure. Ontario had the most positive opinion of the Canada-U.S. relationship, with 48 per cent saying so, while respondents in British Columbia had the least favourable impression, at about 40 per cent saying it was positive.
On China, 56 per cent of Canadians said they have a negative view of the relationship between the two countries; 19 per cent said it was neutral and 3 per cent said they were unsure. British Columbia had the most negative impression of Canada-China relations, with 63 per cent of respondents saying so; at the other end of the spectrum, 42 per cent of Quebeckers said they had a negative opinion of the partnership between Canada and China.
Canada-China relations have deteriorated since the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver last December. She was arrested at the request of the United States, for extradition on allegations of fraud relating to American sanctions against Iran.
In an apparent tit-for-tat response, Chinese officials detained two Canadians – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – and sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related offences. China also withdrew import licences for major Canadian canola sellers. It is a move that has hit Canadian farmers hard, as China accounts for about 40 per cent of Canada’s canola exports.
The survey was conducted in partnership with the Atlantik-Bruecke, a Berlin-based non-profit group that promotes co-operation between Germany, the United States and Canada. PG Forest, a member of the Atlantik-Bruecke Canada Advisory Board and director of the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said Canadians are perplexed by the Trump administration and see more commonalities with Europe than the United States.
“They see the long history of relationships between us and Europe as very defining and part of Canadian identity," Dr. Forest said.
“I think it’s the noise coming from the U.S., more than anything else, that makes it so difficult for people at this moment to understand what exactly is going on.”
Seventy-four per cent of respondents said Canada has close partnerships with Europe on security issues, while 21 per cent said co-operation is neutral and 6 per cent said there is no co-operation at all or they are unsure. In terms of trade and prosperity, 69 per cent of Canadians said the country has strong co-operation with Europe, compared to 27 per cent who said the partnership is neutral and 4 per cent who said there is no co-operation or they are unsure.
The poll surveyed 1,000 Canadians via phone and online surveys between April 25 and 28; the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The results were statistically weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically representative of Canada.