Jan 22, 2018

By Michael Kramer

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It appears Canadians are heading to the dark side.

Our 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 assess  populist sentiment in this country.

The remainder either have a closed-off view of the world – or are on the fence.

The research looked at polls involving 12,604 people – exploring the extent to which 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 results were understood to be caused by by rising discontent among citizens sideswiped by technological, cultural and economic transformation – and looking to regain some measure of control by rejecting the political status quo in favour of a dramatic new approach.

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 perceptions of people’s  economic outlook, class mobility, ethnic fluency and tolerance.

People were also asked whether they believed such movements were good or not.

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

The telephone surveys  had a margin of error of 0.9 per cent – survey 19 times out of 20.

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