News & Events
Canadians’ foreign policy priority: Climate change
The following article was published (En français) by the Université de Montréal, based on a new national public opinion survey co-sponsored with the Trudeau Foundation in advance of its upcoming 10th anniversary policy conference in Montreal, November 21-23, 2013
Canadians do not share the federal government’s opinion when it comes to the fight against climate change. Canada should work more closely with other countries to address this issue, according to 63% of the participants in a new survey. Moreover, Canadians are willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to climate change, as 45% would be willing to pay an extra $100 per annum in federal income tax to support initiatives related to this issue. Environics surveyed 1,501 Canadians on the behalf of the Trudeau Foundation, in advance of its 10th annual conference that will take place in Montreal from 21 to 23 November 2013. The design of the study was facilitated by Fédéric Mérand, Director of Université de Montréal’s Centre for International Studies and Research (CÉRIUM), and four Université de Montréal political science professors: André Blais, Françoise Montambeault, Jean-Philippe Thérien, and Théodore McLauchlin, all of whom are equally affiliated with the CÉRIUM.
Beyond climate change, the survey also revealed Canadians’ priorities in three other areas of foreign policy – international trade, developmental assistance for poor countries, and the fight against terrorism.
Support for a greater international effort with regards to climate change was highest in Quebec (73%), British Columbia (70%), Ontario (62%) and the Maritimes (59%). It was lowest in Manitoba (49%) and Alberta (43%).
According to Frédéric Mérand, the Government’s discourse does not reflect Canadians’ wishes. “Since withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol, the Government speaks little and rarely in a positive manner about climate change – it eventually acknowledged the phenomenon but will not undertake any initiatives to fight it so long as China is not involved,” he said.
International Trade: A priority of secondary importance
Canadians and their government are closer in opinion with regards to the development of international trade. The state should do more in this area, according to 55% of the survey participants. However, only 27% of them would be prepared to pay an extra $100 per annum in tax to promotion international trade.
On a similar note, only 33% believed that Canada should do more with regards to helping the development of poor countries; 26% would happily contribute an extra $100 in tax per annum towards this goal.
Few want fight against terrorism
The fight against international terrorism is another area where public opinion and federal policy diverge. Only 27% of survey respondents believe that the country should fight harder against terrorism; 17% would contribute more tax towards the cause.
The disinterest could be due to a feeling of security that comes from an impression that Canada is surrounded by friendly countries. Survey respondents consider the following countries to be friendly: the United Kingdom (91%), the United States (89%), France (84%), Mexico (72%), India (61%) and Israel (56%).
Iran is the least-liked, as 42% of respondents consider it to be an enemy country. This fact surprised Frédéric Mérand. “Iran is far from Canada, and despite the debate surrounding its nuclear programme, there is little risk that it may one day attack our country. The relationship that Canada maintains with Israel partially explains the hostility towards Iran, but the Government of Canada’s tough-talk targeting the regime in Tehran is no doubt contributing.”
This document was originally published in French by Martin LaSalle and translated to English by William Raillant-Clark.