Once each decade, the Environics Institute surveys Canadians to gauge their views on the world at large, and for the first time in nearly 40 years, favorability toward the United States has dropped significantly among our neighbors to the north: as of last year, more than half of Canadians held a negative view of the U.S.
It is not a subtle drift – Canadians were overwhelmingly positive about the United States as recently as 2016, until Donald Trump’s inauguration put a majority into the anti-American column. The proportion of Canadians who see the United States as “a negative force in today’s world” is now almost 6 in 10, a 12-per-cent rise over 2008, making America by far the most negative country in the eyes of Canadians (even North Korea comes a distant second, at 46 per cent).
When asked what foreign countries are “standing out as a positive force in today’s world,” Canadians’ answers swung sharply, between 2008 and 2018, away from the United States and Britain. The most positively viewed foreign country is now Germany – 17 per cent of Canadians named it as “positive,” up from only 4 per cent in 2008. Sweden has risen to third place (one in eight Canadians identified it, double the 2008 level). Second-place Great Britain saw its popularity fall by 12 per cent; fourth-place United States by more than a quarter.
The majority of Canadians seem to disagree with the Trump administration’s positions on numerous issues, from immigration and resettling refugees to free trade.
Almost three-quarters of Canadians have a “very favourable” view of international trade (and only 4 per cent an unfavourable view), and the proportion of Canadians who believe the North American free-trade agreement has “helped rather than hurt” Canada has risen to two-thirds, its highest level since the agreement took effect Jan. 1, 1994 (with only 18 per cent feeling the deal has hurt the country) and a huge increase over 2008, when the “pro” and “con” views were almost equal.