Posted March 19, 2023 8:00 am ET
Updated March 19, 2023 at 8:02 a.m. ET
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Canadians’ satisfaction with Canada as a country continues to decline, especially when it comes to perceptions of our political institutions, and younger Canadians have the darkest view of the nation of any age group.
A new national survey by Nanos Research found that about two in three Canadians (64 per cent) say they are satisfied with Canada as a country.
That’s a 10 percent decrease from just two years ago, when 74 percent of Canadians expressed satisfaction with the country.
When it comes to the mean score – or group average – we’re now at 6.6 out of 10, up from 7.2 in 2021.
- 2023 average score: 6.6
- Average score 2022: 6.8
- Average score 2021: 7.2
“[It’s] not a great result,” Nanos Research chairman Nik Nanos said on the latest episode of CTV News Trend Line. “What we’re seeing is basically a decline or decline in the share of Canadians who feel satisfied with the country.”
That drop is even steeper when we look at Canadians under the age of 35, for whom the score drops to 5.8.
“Put this into context … the national report card right now would be a C. Canadians would give Canada a C on the satisfaction front. But for individuals who are under 35, that C grade drops to a D,” Nanos said.
Politically, this could be bad news for the minority Liberals, who are down in support in Nanos’ weekly ballot tracking.
The poor showing for the 35-and-under age group should be of particular concern to the Liberals, who inspired a huge turnout among young Canadians in the 2015 federal election, Nanos said. In those elections, the participation of voters aged 18 to 24 increased by over 18 percentage points to 57.1 percent.
“I think if you said fast forward from 2015 to 2023, that young people would be the most pessimistic, that young people would be the least satisfied, you’d probably be very surprised,” Nanos said.
“Young people tend to be the most optimistic and positive because they’re healthy, they’re starting to work and they’re at the beginning of the earning cycle… so those numbers for [young] Canadians and their level of satisfaction is absolutely brutal.”
And this cloud of pessimism has not gone unnoticed by politicians, including conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who appears to be using it to gain an advantage. According to Nanos, when Poilievre says Canada is “broken” — as he did last November and again in January — it’s a message that resonates with Canadians.
The strategy seems to be to lay the blame for our high inflation-driven grocery bills, our overburdened health care system and everything else that burdens Canadians at the Prime Minister’s feet.
Poilievre is trying to paint the Liberals as directly “responsible for breaking up Canada,” Nanos said, a starkly different tactic from opposition leaders in the past.
“Usually they just say that today’s government is not doing a very good job, that they are incompetent and [are] dropping the ball,” Nanos said. “In this particular case, what Pierre Poilievre is saying is that the Liberals are specifically responsible for breaking up Canada, and this is a whole new level of rhetoric that we’re seeing on the opposition bench.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for his part, did not turn a blind eye to Poilievre’s accusation.
“Let me be clear for the record: Canada is not broken,” he said in a December speech, turning Poilievre’s claim on its head, accusing the Conservative leader of fueling conspiracy theories and avoiding tough questions from reporters.
HOW WE LOOK AT OUR NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
The Nanos survey also asked what Canadians think about our major institutions and how they contribute to Canada, including those in the political sphere, education, health, law enforcement, and arts and cultural organizations.
The survey found that Canadians think our universities (7.3 average) and our health care system (7.0) make the biggest contributions to Canada. But they rate our political institutions – including the House of Commons (5.7), the Prime Minister (4.9), the Senate (4.1) and the Governor-General (3.6) as having the lowest marks on the list of contributors.
Watch the full episode of Trend Line in our video player at the top of this article. You can also listen in our audio player below, or wherever you get your podcasts. The next episode airs on Wednesday, March 29, the day after the federal budget is released.
Younger Canadians’ Attitudes About Our Country and Its Institutions Are Worsening: Nanos Research