The AmericasBarometer is a 29 country public opinion survey on democracy, governance and civic engagement, conducted every two to three years by a consortium of of research partners across the western hemisphere
The Environics Institute has been the Canadian partner on this research program since 2012, and is now releasing the results of the 2017 survey, which focuses on the following themes:
- Attitudes about democracy
- Confidence in the political system
- Confidence in the justice system and the protection of human rights
- Tolerance for political dissent
- Confidence in the national economy and household finances
The Canadian survey was conducted online in English and French with a representative sample of 1,511 Canadians (aged 18 plus) between March 24 and April 4, 2017. The sample was weighted by region, age and gender to match the country's population.
The Canadian survey results are now publicly available. The results from the survey in the other 28 countries will be released in the Fall.
Canadians' level of confidence in their country's democracy, political system and central institutions hsa changed very little over the past three years, and continues a stable trend dating back to 2010. On most measures public opinion has either not changed or improved modestly since 2014.
As before, Canadians are generally positive about their system of government and democracy, with a more mixed assessment of the central institutions of government.
The public continues to express the most trust in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP and Supreme Court, and much less so when it comes to the political system (e.g, Parliament, political parties) and the mass media.
The change in government in Ottawa since 2014 (and its change in "tone") appears to have had a positive effect in improving public confidence in the Prime Minister and in how elections are run. Opinions between Canadians on the left and those on the right along the political spectrum are now less polarized than three years ago.
There is no evidence of growth in anti-government or populist sentiment among Canadians over the past three years. However, the public's commitment to democracy as the only form of government has weakened a bit over this period.
Canadians’ faith in the country’s democracy is further reflected in a sustained belief in the importance of free speech and tolerance of political dissent. Public confidence in the protection of human rights, including the right to a fair trial, has held steady for most of the past decade.
The stable or improving results may in part reflect improved confidence in both the national economy and ones' own household circumstances, in both bases now stronger than in 2014.
Income inequality remains an issue for most Canadians, but it is not manifested in a growing divide in confidence about economic conditions or the country's democracy and central institutions. Canadians at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder mirror the national average in terms of showing stable or improving opinions about the topics covered in the survey. There is no evidence of a growing segment of the population feeling economically or politically alienated.