Canadians Feel Trips Such as the PM’s to Middle East are Important, Lean Towards Favourable Views of this One

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According to Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “A majority of Canadians share a view that trips such as the one the Prime Minister recently made to the Middle East are important and it clearly captured some fairly broad domestic attention. In this case, we also found that more Canadians were left with a favourable impression than an unfavourable impression of the trip overall.”



A clear majority of Canadians feel it’s important for a Canadian Prime Minister to make international trips like the recent one to the Middle East. Nationally, 22% feel it’s very important for a Prime Minister to make such a trip, while 41% say it’s somewhat important. Ontarians (67%) are more likely than those in Quebec (58%) to say such a trip is important.

The rationale for feeling this sort of trip is important rests more with diplomacy than economic benefits. More than one in three (35%) who feel such a trip is important say so because it’s good for diplomacy and international relations. An additional 12% say such a trip is good for the economy and trade, while 9% feel such a trip is important to increase visibility.

Demonstrating this perception of importance, about half of the Canadian population (48%) says they were following the Prime Minister’s trip to the Middle East at least somewhat closely and as many (51%) say they care at least somewhat about the trip.

Looking at the impressions of how this particular trip went, opinion is divided but more Canadians were left with a positive impression than a negative impression overall. Three in ten (30%) hold at least a somewhat favourable impression of the Prime Minister’s trip to the Middle East overall, while 26% hold an unfavourable opinion while the plurality (42%) either have neither a favourable nor an unfavourable impression (16%) or no opinion whatsoever (26%). Those under the age of 50 are more likely than those older to not have an opinion on the trip.

Respondents were also asked about the impact the trip would have on a variety of issues. The results below compare the proportions who feel the trip will have a positive impact versus a negative impact on each of several areas investigated:

  • On Canada’s relationship with Israel: 59% expect a positive impact versus 9% negative.
  • On Canada’s reputation in the world: 54% expect a positive impact versus 20% negative.
  • On Canadians in general: 41% expect a positive impact versus 17% negative.
  • On your impression of the Prime Minister: 36% expect a positive impact versus 29% negative.
  • On Canada’s economy: 36% expect a positive impact versus 14% negative.
  • On the Middle East: 34% expect a positive impact versus 24% negative.
  • On Canada’s relations with the Palestinian Authority: 32% expect a positive impact versus 31% negative.

In order to gauge how the perceived importance of such trips relates to the level of attention Canadians paid to it, Harris/Decima created a segmentation that combined the two questions. It reveals that:

  • One in three Canadians (34%) feel such trips are important and followed it at least somewhat closely;
  • Almost as many (29%) feel such trips are important, but they weren’t following that particular trip closely;
  • Another 23% said they do not feel such trips are important and were not following it closely; and
  • Perhaps most curiously, 14% of Canadians do not feel such trips are important, but were (nevertheless) following it closely

A deeper analysis of these four segments and their varying opinions of the trip sheds some interesting light on how partisanship seems intertwined with the lenses through which different people viewed the trip.

Those 34% of Canadians who were following the trip closely and feel such trips are important are more likely to hold favourable impressions of the trip – by a margin of 54% positive to 23% negative. Compared to the other segments, this segment is more likely to be Conservative, but they are almost equally likely to be Liberal.

In contrast, the 14% of Canadians who would not describe such trips as important but who were, nonetheless, following the trip closely, hold rather decidedly negative impressions of the trip itself – by a margin of 9% positive to 62% negative. They are also more likely to be supporters of the Liberal Party or the NDP and least likely to be Conservative voters.

The two segments who were not following the trip unimportant are far more likely to be on the fence about how they feel about this particular trip, regardless of whether they feel such trips are important. In each of these two segments, the majority either have a neutral opinion or no opinion at all of the trip. However, among those offering an opinion one way or the other, non-followers who say such trips ARE important skew positive. Whereas, those non-followers who say such trips are unimportant skew negative

Taken together, this analysis shows how perceptions of the value of such trips and perceptions of the performance of the Prime Minister on it are likely hard to separate from partisan inclinations.

In summary however, there appear to be more Canadians left holding favourable than unfavourable impressions of the Prime Minister’s trip to the Middle East and more are able to identify an upside rather than a downside to the trip.

Data was collected using computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) via the Harris/Decima teleVox omnibus. Overall, 1,010 completes were collected nationally between January 23 and January 27, 2014. The sample consists of 80% landline and 20% cell phone respondents, with quotas by gender (50/50 split) and by region. The data is weighted in tabulation to replicate actual population distribution by age and gender within region according to the 2011 Census data. This survey is considered accurate to a margin of plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.