Canadian pride varies by region
With Canada Day approaching, I felt it was a good time to revisit a survey I had originally conducted in 2008. Back then, Canadian respondents were offered a list of 12 institutions and features that can elicit feelings of pride, and were asked if each one of them made them proud.
A lot has happened since then, including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and a change in the country’s federal government. The results of the 2019 survey conducted by Research Co. outline a powerful connection between Canadians and specific aspects of life in the country, as well as a noticeable gloominess about the justice system.
There are only three institutions and features that elicit pride from at least four in five Canadians: the flag (93 per cent), the armed forces (89 per cent) and the economy (80 per cent).
There is no surprise on the first
two findings, but pride in national finances increasing by 18 points in 11 years is certainly eye-catching.
Men (90 per cent), residents aged 55 and over (86 per cent) and Ontarians (also 86 per cent) are more likely to say the Canadian economy makes them proud.
There are differences along political lines, with federal Liberal supporters in 2015 feeling better (94 per cent) than Conservatives (85 per cent) and New Democrats (71 per cent).
Three other institutions and features make at least seven in 10 Canadians proud: the health care system (77 per cent), hockey (72 per cent) and the state of democracy in Canada (70 per cent). It is here where we start to witness some variance.
Canadians aged 18 to 34 are less likely to feel pride over the state of democracy in Canada than their older counterparts. Also, significantly fewer Quebecers are proud of the health care system (58 per cent) than residents of other regions are.
More than half of Canadians express pride in multiculturalism (66 per cent), Indigenous culture (56 per cent) and bilingualism (55 per cent). As expected, Liberal voters in 2015 seem extremely supportive of two historical policies championed by the current governing party (80 per cent for multiculturalism and 66 per cent for bilingualism).
British Columbians are prouder of multiculturalism (73 per cent) and Indigenous culture (63 per cent) than are all other Canadians. If Quebec shows a bit of disdain for the health care system, it is the rest of Canada that does not share the love of Quebecers for bilingualism. Across the province, 64 per cent of Quebecers are proud of bilingualism – nine points above the national average.
The final three institutions and features on the list make fewer than half of Canadians proud: the monarchy (47 per cent), Parliament (45 per cent) and the Canadian justice system (40 per cent).
Quebec brings down the national numbers on the monarchy, with a paltry pride rating of 22 per cent. Every other province is at least 20 points higher. Still, only 36 per cent of Canadians felt pride about the monarchy in 2008. This represents an 11-point gain in just over a decade.
And what a decade it has been, with royal visits, weddings and children for Princes William and Harry. However, our surveys have shown the reticence of Canadians to embrace Prince Charles as a future head of state, and his significantly lower favourability rating when compared to Queen Elizabeth. The pride trend has been positive for the monarchy, but it may change depending on how Prince Charles performs.
On Parliament, the numbers are also better than in 2008, when only 32 per cent of Canadians were proud of the national legislature. Unsurprisingly, Liberal voters feel proudest right now (59 per cent), while Conservatives and New Democrats are more subdued (37 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively).
In a decade that saw pride grow for most features and institutions, the Canadian justice system is embarrassingly stagnant (42 per cent in 2008, 40 per cent in 2019). Western Canadians are particularly pessimistic. Only 33 per cent of those on the Prairies are proud of the justice system. In British Columbia, the proportion falls to a Canada-wide low of 27 per cent.
For British Columbians, the decade has seen a rise in the perception of criminal activity, as well as expected prosecutions bogged down in the courts.
High-profile trials have ended in deadlocked juries and a heavily anticipated money laundering case was stayed last year. These are some of the setbacks that have British Columbians, more than Canadians in any other region, feeling let down by the justice system.