Hot Topic: A soft spot for farmers

Industries worth protecting.

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In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1,238 randomly selected Canadians 18 years of age and older, two thirds agreed with the Harper government’s policy of signing as many international trade deals as possible (66%), while one quarter disagreed with this policy (25%). One tenth have no opinion (9%). Enthusiasm for trade deals is characteristic of higher income groups and Albertans. Disagreement is characteristic of older respondents and those in Ontario.

Despite their enthusiasm for trade deals and being told that Canada’s supply management system is an obstacle to freer trade, the vast majority of Canadians (81%) agree the dairy and poultry industries are worth protecting (61% “strongly”), and fewer than one fifth disagree (14%). Few have no opinion on this (5%).

The majority of Canadians are willing to pay more for poultry and dairy in order to protect these industries (58%), while about 4-in-10 disagree with this position (38%). Few don’t have an opinion (4%).

Close to one half of Canadians agree that export reliant industries are being unfairly penalized by the government’s insistence on supporting supply management (45%), while one third disagree (33%). On this question, many are unsure (22%).

Close to 6-in-10 agree that Canada’s other protected sectors, including aviation, banking and telecommunications, should be opened up to foreign competition (58%), while just more than a third disagrees (35%). About one tenth have no opinion (8%).

“While Canadians admire the idea of free trade in principle, they nevertheless want to have their eggs and dairy and eat them too. They somehow think it’s possible to become a world trader while indulging in parochial trade protectionism at home,” said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.

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