As Election Looms, Majority of Canadians (52%, Up 15 Points since 2016) Say Canada’s Society is Broken

Populist and Nativist Sentiment Growing in Canada; 61% Say Traditional Parties Don’t Care about People Like Them

The author(s)
  • Mitra Thompson Senior Account Manager, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs
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Toronto, ON, Sep 5, 2019 — With the federal election just around the corner, a new Ipsos poll provided exclusively to Global News has found that a majority of Canadian now believe that Canada’s society is broken, while at the same time populist and nativist sentiment is also on the rise. It is clear that the election will be fought amid a backdrop of fear, disappointment and discontent (which are reflected in the Trudeau government’s recent approval ratings), and the party leaders will be responding in their own way to either stoke or allay these feelings for their own purposes.

Rising 15 points since 2016 – when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was still enjoying his electoral honeymoon – 52% now believe that Canada’s society is broken, up from 37%. Two in ten (19%) disagree, while 28% are neutral and 1% don’t know. While the significant increase since 2016 could portend a difficult path to re-election for the incumbent government, it is important to note that even with 52% feeling this way, Canada is still well behind those in Poland (84%), Brazil (78%) and South Africa (78%), along with 60% in the United States who express similar views.

Perhaps feeding the rise in this sentiment, 67% of Canadians now agree (up 8 points since 2016) that Canada’s economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful. The SNC-Lavalin issue might have had a role to play in Canadians being more inclined to feel this way. Only 10% disagree, while 21% are neutral and 3% don’t know. Even with two in three (67%) agreeing that the economy is rigged, those in Mexico (79%), Hungary (78%), Peru (78%) and Spain (77%) are more likely to believe this is the case, while residents of Sweden (50%) and Malaysia (57%) are less likely to think so. Americans (66%) feel similarly to Canadians (67%).

Canadians are also more likely than they used to be to believe that traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like them (61% agree, up 5 points since 2016). This could explain the rise of new parties in Canada, such as the People’s Party and the recent surge in popularity of the Green Party as people look to alternatives from the usual suspects. Conversely, just 12% disagree that traditional parties don’t care about them, while 24% neither agree nor disagree and 3% don’t know. Americans (67%) are more likely than Canadians (61%) to feel this way, but those in South Africa (78%), Mexico (76%), France (75%), Peru (75%) and Spain (75%) are most inclined to say so.

Populism on the Rise

Populist sentiment appears on the rise in Canada, as more Canadians believe that…

  • Canada needs a strong leader to take the country back form the rich and powerful (67% agree, +2 points). Canadians are on par with Americans (66%) on this position, while those in India (80%) and Mexico (79%) are well ahead and those in Germany (38%), Sweden (41%) and Japan (46%) much less inclined to hold this point of view.
  • Experts in this country don’t understand the lives of people like them (62%, +4 points). 65% of Americans feel this way, while those in Argentina are most likely (75%) and Israelis (40%) are least likely say so.

Interestingly, and perhaps a reaction to the administration of Donald Trump south of the border, slightly fewer Canadians now (39%) than in 2016 (41%) say that in order to fix Canada we need a strong leader willing to break the rules. Notably, more Canadians (39%) than Americans (35%) feel this way. Those in France (77%) are significantly more likely than anybody else to say this is what would fix their country, while Germans (22%) are well behind those in every other country.

Nativist Sentiment Building

Nativist sentiment is also on the rise in Canada, and this is clearly something that Maxime Bernier, in particular, has picked up on.

  • Four in ten (41%) Canadians agree that immigrants take important social services away from “real Canadians”, up 6 points form 2016. One in three (34%) disagree while 22% are neutral and 2% don’t know. Canadians feel similarly to Americans (42%) on this issue, while those in Turkey (67%) and Malaysia (60%) are most likely to think so, and residents of Japan (25%) and Poland (26%) are less likely.
  •  Just 11% agree (unchanged) that Canada would be better off if we let in all immigrants who wanted to come here, while 61% disagree, 25% are neutral and 3% disagree. Those in India (35%), Saudi Arabia (27%) and the US (22%) are most likely to agree – well ahead of Canada – while Serbians (5%), Russians (6%), Hungarians (7%) and the French (8%) are least likely.
  • Fully one half (50%) agree that when jobs are scarce, employers should prioritize people from this country over immigrants, up 5 points. Just 21% disagree, while 27% are neutral and 2% don’t know. Even though half (50%) of Canadians agree, they are among the least likely globally who feel this way, along with residents of Germany (49%), Great Britain (48%) and Sweden (34%). Those in Serbia (82%), Malaysia (81%) and Russia (81%) are the most inclined to hold this point of view.

About the poll

These are the findings of a survey conducted in 27 countries via Global Advisor, the online survey platform of Ipsos, between March 22 and April 5, 2019. For this survey, Ipsos interviews a total of 18,528 adults aged:

  • 16-74 in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Sweden;
  • 18-74 in Canada, Israel, South Africa, Turkey, and the United States of America;
  • 19-74 in South Korea

The sample consists of 1,000+ individuals in each of Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., and of 500+ individuals in each of the other countries surveyed. The data is weighted so each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of its adult population according to the most recent census data, and to give each country an equal weight in the total “global” sample. Online surveys can be taken as representative of the general working-age population in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. Online samples in other countries surveyed are more urban, more educated and/or more affluent than the general population and the results should be viewed as reflecting the views of a more “connected” population.

Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of online surveys conducted on Global Advisor is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, the poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points for countries where the sample is 1,000+ and +/- 4.8 points for countries where the sample is 500+. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please go to


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Darrell Bricker, PhD
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324 2001
[email protected]

Mitra Thompson
Senior Account Manager, Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 514 904 4329
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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The author(s)
  • Mitra Thompson Senior Account Manager, Canada, Public Affairs
  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs