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Half of Canadian’s believe NAFTA negotiations are going “poorly”

Donald Trump had promised that upon being elected President of the United States, he would renegotiate the NAFTA or the North American Free Trade Agreement referring to it as “America’s worst trade deal.” Campaign Research conducted a study among 1,486 Canadian residents to get the publics opinion of how negotiations were going. Our study revealed, that half (50%) of Canadian’s believed that negotiations were going poorly, with a further quarter believing its progress was “fair” (26%) and a mere 12% saying there were good or excellent.

While this pessimistic view of negotiations was consistent across most demographic groups and regions, the youngest residents (18 to 24) tended to have a more positive outlook with over a quarter (29%) viewing negotiations as being good or excellent. Opinions varied more widely by voter intent with Conservative party supporters being far more likely to believe that negotiations were going poorly (64%) than Liberal supporters (38%).

Participants were asked if either American President Donald Trump or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were more effective in negotiating for their countries’ interests. Once again there were stark differences between Conservative and Liberal supporters. A majority of Liberal supporters (63%) felt that Justin Trudeau was more effective compared to just 17% of Conservative supporters, who believed that Donald Trump was doing a better job (54%).

Participants were also asked if in NAFTA negotiations Canada should focus more on protecting the automotive and steel industries or the dairy industry. Overall opinion was split with 35% favoring the automotive and steel industries, 38% favoring the dairy industry and the balance not being sure. Quebec expressed a strong preference for protecting the dairy industry (51%), while Ontario was more concerned with protecting the automotive and steel industries (41%). Opinions also varied greatly between males and females with half of males expressing a strong preference for protecting the automotive and steel industries (47%) compared to a quarter of females (24%). Instead females expressed stronger support for protecting the dairy industry (44%) than did males (31%).

Should the NAFTA agreement fail, there was strong support for closer trade ties with Europe including both the European Union (49%) and the United Kingdom (45%). Closer ties with China (43%) and Japan (40%) were also widely selected. Western Canada expressed more overall interest in increasing trade relations with different countries than eastern Canada and in particular Quebec.

“Canadians are clearly uneasy with the way NAFTA talks have been proceeding and there are regional divisions on what Canada’s negotiating priorities should be. The dramatically different way that Liberal and Conservative supporters view the negotiations shows how politically charged they are and how important this issue will be in next year’s election.” said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research Inc


This online study was conducted by Campaign Research as part of its monthly omnibus study between September 13 and September 14 through an online survey of 1486 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of Maru/Blue’s online panel Maru Voice Canada and were provided with various incentives to respond. The panelists were selected to reflect Canada’s age, gender and regional distributions in line with 2016 Statistics Canada census data. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

The results have been weighted by age, gender, and region to match the population according to 2016 Census data. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

The following screening question was asked in order to determine eligibility for participation in the study

"Are you 18 years of age or older and eligible to vote in federal elections?"

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