March 23, 2016 | By Craig Kafura

O Canada! Public Opinion and the US-Canada Relationship


US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrive for a joint news conference in the the White House Rose Garden in Washington March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Canada’s newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, son of former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau, recently enjoyed a successful state visit to the United States. On the agenda: climate change, military cooperation, softwood lumber subsidies—and some hockey chirping.
 
While Canadian prime ministers don’t visit the US as frequently as they used to, that doesn’t mean American enthusiasm for Canada has flagged. In the 2014 Chicago Council Survey, Americans gave Canada an average of 79 out of 100, higher than any other country asked about in the survey. (Canadians were understandably enthused.) That warm rating helps explain the reception that greeted Trudeau, and perhaps why two Americans begged him to be our president.
 
In fact, this wasn’t the first time Americans had given their northern neighbor such a high rating. In every Chicago Council Survey in which Canada was included in this question, Canada won out, with the United Kingdom coming a consistently close second. 


The feeling isn’t quite mutual: while Canadians do like the United States and pro-US feelings are on the rise, data from the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada’s 2014 National Opinion Poll show that Canadians feel more favorably towards Australia and the United Kingdom than the United States. However, Canadian feelings toward the United States are on the rise, and success of Trudeau’s US visit could improve things further. 


Relations will also benefit from continued cooperation on major issues such as climate change. In their joint statement, Obama and Trudeau put climate issues front and center, emphasizing both nations’ commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement. According to survey research by the Angus Reid Institute, seven in ten Canadians (69%) support Canadian participation in the Paris Agreement. And in the United States, Chicago Council Survey data has shown that a majority of Americans have long supported a “new international treaty to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions” (and before that, for the Kyoto Agreement). 



Perhaps the shared effort to combat a warmer planet will lead to even warmer relations between the two North American neighbors. 
 

About

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs highlights critical shifts in American public thinking on US foreign policy through public opinion surveys and research conducted under the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy. 

The annual Chicago Council Survey, first conducted in 1974, is a valuable resource for policymakers, academics, media, and the general public. The Council also surveys American leaders in government, business, academia, think tanks, and religious organizations biennially to compare trends in their thinking with overall trends. And collaborating with partner organizations, the survey team periodically conducts parallel surveys of public opinion in other regions of the world to compare with US public opinion. 

The Running Numbers blog features regular commentary and analysis from the Council’s public opinion and US foreign policy research team, including a series of flash polls of a select group of foreign policy experts to assess their opinions on critical foreign policy topics driving the news.

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