Canadians Say Country’s Human Rights Record (39%) More Important than Potential Economic Benefit to Canada (34%) When Dealing with Foreign Countries

But Canadians Believe that our Leaders Place Economic Benefits Above Other Considerations in Foreign Relations

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, June 20, 2019 — While Canadians place top priority on the human-rights records of the foreign countries that Canada deals with, they believe that our political leaders place prioritize economic benefits ahead of all other issues, according to a new Ipsos poll provided exclusively to Global News.

When deciding on relations with other countries, Canadians believe that the human rights records of the country Canada is dealing with (39%), should be the most important factor guiding those relations, followed by whether or not that country obeys international law (35%), placing slightly ahead of the proportion who believes that economic benefits to Canada (34%) should be the priority issue. Other issues of lesser importance include: security benefits (29%), the environmental impact of that country (22%), historical relations between the countries (13%), military benefits (11%) or whether or not the country is a democracy (11%).

Interestingly, the list of priorities in Canada differs somewhat from the global average, which places more importance on economic benefits (44%) and security benefits (40%) than human rights records (30%) or international law (30%).

capture Interestingly, when assessing the priorities of their political leaders when dealing with foreign countries, Canadians believe that our leaders place more emphasis on economic benefits than human rights and international law. In other words, Canadians believe that our political leaders are more aligned with the global values than our own.

Reflecting on which three issues are most important to Canada’s leaders, they believe that our leaders place economic benefits to Canada (38%) ahead of all other issues including security benefits (30%), that country’s human rights records (28%) and observance of international law (25%), that country’s environmental impact (19%), historical relations (18%), military benefits to Canada (16%), or whether that country is a democracy (10%).

Looking south of the border, the American people prioritize security (43%) and economic benefits (37%) to the USA along with human rights (37%), but believe that their political leaders prioritize economic (43%) benefits over all other matters. A few other interesting points:

  • South Africans are most likely to say that economic benefits should be a priority (65%).
  • Mexicans (53%) are most likely to cite security benefits as what should be the driving force behind their dealings.
  • Human rights records were only chosen by the people of Canada (39%), Great Britain (41%), Hungary (46%) and Sweden (50%) as the factor that should be the most important.
  • Observance of international law was chosen as the top issue which should govern foreign relations in Germany (35%) and Spain (42%).

While 42% of Canadians believe that Canada should only trade with countries with good human-rights records, this is above the global average of 36%. Conversely, only 17% of Canadians think that Canada should trade with any country if it benefits our economy, regardless of human rights, well below the international average of 33%. Those most likely to say that human rights should trump economic concerns include Sweden (50%), Great Britain (50%), Poland (49%) and Germany (49%). Those most likely to maintain that economic matters should take priority over human rights include those in Mexico (62%), Russia (55%), Peru (53%), Argentina (52%) and Turkey (49%).

Canada The Good

Various countries and international bodies were assessed to determine whether or not they are seen to use their global influence for good or for bad. As it turns out, 37% of global citizens surveyed believe that Canada uses its influence to do mostly good (37%), placing us atop the list which includes the United Nations (35%), Germany (32%), the EU (30%), one’s own country (28%), France (28%), Great Britain (27%), NATO (26%), the United States (18%), India (16%), China (14%), Russia (13%), Israel (11%), Saudi Arabia (9%) or Iran (6%).

Conversely, Canada is at the bottom of the list when it comes to global citizens’ assessment of whether Canada uses its influence to mostly-bad effect, with just 4% believing that Canada does this. More global citizens believe that these countries or bodies use their influence in a bad way: their own country (7%), Germany (7%), the United Nations (8%), France (8%), India (8%) the EU (9%), Great Britain (10%), NATO (10%), China (20%), the United States (22%), Israel (24%), Saudi Arabia (25%), Russia (25%) and Iran (31%).

Moreover, reflecting on the past ten years, one in four (26%) believe that Canada is more likely to use their influence for good in the world, suggesting that our international reputation has been improving over the last decade. This compares favourably to all other countries/organizations tested, including the UN (23%), Germany (22%), Great Britain (19%), the United States (17%) and Iran (7%).

On the flip side, just 8% think that Canada is less likely to use its influence to do good in the world, while more global citizens point the finger at the Israel (27%), the United States (29%), Russia (29%), Saudi Arabia (29%) and Iran (32%) as being less likely, over the last decade, to use their influence for good.

About the Study

This survey is an international sample of 17,022, adults aged 18-74 in the US, South Africa, Turkey and Canada, and age 16-74 in all other countries, were interviewed. The Fieldwork was conducted from 19th April – 3rd May, 2019. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+. 15 of the 24 countries surveyed online generate nationally representative samples in their countries (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and United States). Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa and Turkey produce a national sample that is more urban & educated, and with higher incomes than their fellow citizens. We refer to these respondents as “Upper Deck Consumer Citizens”. They are not nationally representative of their country. Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/- 1 point away from 100%, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.The precision of Ipsos online polls are calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson

Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs

+1 416 324-2002

[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry. With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.

The author(s)
  • Sean Simpson SVP, Canada, Public Affairs