A recently released Focus Canada report from the Environics Institute reveals significant changes in how Canadians view their international partners. The study, which is part of an annual public research program in Canada launched in 1976, found a growing recognition that, from Canada’s vantage point, the world has become a much less friendly place.


While the proportion of Canadians holding a favourable opinion of the United States declined following the 2016 election of Donald Trump as president, the 2020 report shows that that proportion has declined even further over the past year.


Not surprisingly, President Trump remains an unpopular choice for U.S. president among Canadians, with two in three expressing a preference for Democratic Party Nominee Joe Biden.


The report also shows that the proportion of Canadians who see the U.S. as a friend of Canada has dropped from nine in ten in 2013 to six in ten in 2020. A similar trend emerges in Canadians’ opinions of China and Russia, with only one in four and one in five, respectively, viewing those nations as a friend to Canada.

 Key Study Findings:

  • Only 29% of Canadians hold a favourable view of the U.S., down 11 points from 2019 and a record low, dating back to 1982.
  • Currently, 51% of Canadians say that, on balance, NAFTA has helped the Canadian economy; this is down slightly from a high of 63% in 2017.
  • Sixty-seven percent of Canadians would most like to see Joe Biden win November’s U.S. presidential election, compared with 15% who prefer Donald Trump.
  • Most Canadians consider European countries like Great Britain, France and Germany to be friends of Canada, while the proportions viewing the U.S., China or Russia as friends has declined considerably since 2013.

About Focus Canada:

Focus Canada is an annual public opinion research program, launched in 1976. This year, the Environics Institute updated its research on Canadian attitudes toward their country’s relations with its international partners. This survey was conducted in partnership with the Faculty of Social Sciences’ IMPACT Project at the University of Ottawa and Century Initiative. This survey is based on telephone interviews conducted (via land line and cellphones) with 2,000 Canadians between September 8 and 23, 2020. A sample of this size drawn from the population produces results accurate to within +/-2.2 percentage points in 19 out of 20 samples.

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