Canadians Want Prime Minister to Take a Harder Line with U.S. Government

June 19, 2017

Lack of confidence in U.S. is creating a sense of economic insecurity at home

TORONTO, ONTARIO – (June 19, 2017) — Canadians are clearly worried about the U.S. political climate, with 79 per cent saying they are not confident in the U.S. federal government. That fear and loathing is now translating into an overwhelming desire for our Prime Minister to take a harder line with the U.S. According to 90 per cent of respondents, Trudeau “needs to protect Canadian interests, even if it might hurt Canada-U.S. trade relations.”

“It is like Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said to the Washington Press Club in 1969; Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast…one is affected by every twitch and grunt,” said Sara Cappe, Managing Director, Public Affairs and Agency, Maru/Matchbox.

Canadians agree that the Canadian economy is dependent on a good trade relationship with the U.S. (89 per cent). However, they are not prepared to allow the U.S. to control the discussion. With most Canadians holding negative perceptions of the United States’ current position on many of our trade issues – softwood lumber, dairy and NAFTA – the expectation is the Prime Minister will defend Canadian interests. In fact, they are united in agreement (84 per cent) that if Prime Minister Trudeau does not stand up to President Trump on trade terms, the Canadian economy will decline.

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“Canadians not only acknowledge the elephant in the room, they are deeply concerned by the tone of its grunts and twitches and are hoping the government will help,” added Cappe.

Issues of trade with the United States and what President Trump has planned for renegotiating NAFTA are deeply concerning Canadians. More than one-half (63 per cent) of Canadians hold a negative view of the United States’ approach to NAFTA and one-half (53 per cent) perceive U.S. foreign policy with Canada negatively. The political climate is making Canadians feel “disgust” (52 per cent), “anxious” (46 per cent), “fear” (44 per cent) and “sadness” (40 per cent). These are concerns which Canadians are saying loud and clear they want their leadership to address.

At the same time, Canadians are exhibiting signs of economic and social caution, as they pull back on their discretionary spending. Two in five say they are spending less on eating out and leisure activities, while one third are being mindful of their spending on their home and for tech devices. One third are also donating less to charity. These cutbacks have the potential to weaken the Canadian economy, and in the case of charities, harm society too. In a telling sign of the unease caused by the U.S. President’s rumblings, Canadians are roughly twice as likely to be cutting back on these activities as their American neighbours.

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About Maru/Matchbox

Maru/Matchbox has been pushing the boundaries of customer intelligence since 2000, when we began disrupting the market research industry as the research arm of Vision Critical. Since then, our insight communities have broken new ground, adding depth and richness to clients’ understanding of what motivates their customers and influences their markets. Now, as part of the MARU Group, we still operate many of the hundreds of insight communities that we implemented then, while also providing sector-specific consulting and research and in-depth qualitative insights.

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight ranking of the accuracy of political pollsters put Maru/Matchbox’s Springboard America at #1 amongst those using online samples. It had the highest “Elections Correctly Called” and the lowest “Difference from Actual” among those online sources that had covered ten or more elections. This research on Springboard America was conducted on behalf of the Angus Reid Institute.

About the Angus Reid Business Forum

The Angus Reid Business Forum is Canada’s premiere online business research community, giving Canadian business leaders the opportunity to voice their opinions since 2008. Organizations use the Angus Reid Business Forum to help them better understand the business-to-business community on a variety of topics including buying behaviour, business outlook, government policies, the economy, and taxation. Members are prescreened on the number of employees, type of industry, role in the business and many other attributes. This makes it possible to quickly and efficiently reach any type of business leader.