What Canadians Think

We think, and we hope you agree, that all Canadians want to know what Canadians think. And while no Canadian is exactly like any other, when we begin to put one opinion beside another, then add another belief, and put that beside a preference or an aversion, and so on, and we let the numbers add up, after all the years we’ve been at this, we get a pretty good idea of what is on Canadians’ minds.

If we’ve learned one thing from our years of prying into the minds of Canadians, it is that we are a fascinating lot, – mostly unreasonable, usually congenial, sometimes exasperating, from time to time simply bizarre. And we ought to know. We’re Canadian too. Not a day goes by that we are not surprised by something we stumble across in our research, and I hope we never stop being surprised.

We are surprised by the strength of some replies. For example, when editorials, and pundits, and others were screeching that Canadians should saddle up with our friends across the border and join them in Iraq or else, and almost 7 in 10 told us they’d rather stay here, we think a finding like that shows that, right or wrong, Canadians are capable of thinking for themselves, even when the so-called experts are telling them something different. The same goes for other issues like labeling GMO’s. We found that 90% of Canadians want to know when they’re buying and eating genetically modified food, and that goes for transfats as well. Or what they want in their health care system. The Romanow Report was given public vindication with 82% support, despite being dumped on in many quarters of the country by political, media, or special interest when it was released.

We are often surprised by regional variations. For example, a Manitoban is twice as likely as an Ontarian to oppose a ban on pellet guns. And which province is most likely to support the decriminalization of marijuana? You might feel justified in guessing British Columbia. But you would be wrong. The answer is Quebec. How about the province that feels most burdened by the tax man? You might guess Alberta this time. Nope. Quebec again.

We also see striking variations across all the demographic categories. Someone with a high school education is 50% more likely than someone with a university education to believe that decriminalized marijuana will lead to an increase in crime. A young Canadian is twice as likely as an old Canadian to invest monthly. A woman is more than twice as likely to floss than is a man. A woman is 50% more likely than a man to believe high oil prices are a form of vengeance for the American invasion of Iraq. And so on.

Sure some of these numbers make perfect sense, and are not surprising at all, – let’s say that 99.9% of Canadians put heir pants on one leg at a time. But even the fact that 0.1% of Canadians have some other procedure for getting dressed is pretty interesting. That’s 24,000 very ambitious adult Canadians.

Darrell Bricker and John Wright
from What Canadians Think about Almost Everything