Fewer than half of Canadians hold optimistic, open view of the world: poll

OTTAWA — Canada’s reputation as a nation with an open and optimistic world view that flies in the face of rising pessimism and nationalism elsewhere is being challenged by new research.

Fewer than half of Canadians appear on the “open” side of an index devised by EKOS Research and The Canadian Press to gauge populist sentiment here.

The remainder either have a closed-off view of the world or are on the fence — a potentially volatile swing group.

The research aggregated polls involving 12,604 people to explore to what extent Canadians’ views are in line with voters who backed two of the most surprising manifestations of 21st century populism in recent years — Donald Trump’s campaign for U-S president and the exit of Britain from the European Union.

Both were understood to be the results of rising discontent among those sideswiped by technological, cultural and economic transformation and seeking to regain some measure of control by eschewing the political status quo in favour of a dramatic new approach.

Whether Canada could be facing a similar issue has been a question ever since.

The results of the study suggest 46 per cent of Canadians are open-minded towards the world and each other, with the highest numbers found in B-C and the Atlantic provinces.

But 30 per cent report feeling economically and culturally insecure, a sentiment found in the largest numbers in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The remainder — roughly 25 per cent — have a mixed view.

To gauge where Canadians sit, EKOS Research and The Canadian Press aggregated responses to questions posed in two telephone polls between June and December about people’s perceptions of their economic outlook, class mobility, ethnic fluency and tolerance. Pollsters also asked whether they believed such movements were good or not.

The results were in turn plotted on a spectrum from “open” to “ordered” — a new way of classifying people’s political viewpoints that goes beyond the traditional right-versus-left.

The telephone polls had a margin of error of 0.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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