Canadians are not immune to the Trump-style populism sweeping the globe, with many no longer trusting the establishment, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.
“Canada is not immune from the impact of the global trust crisis,” said Lisa Kimmel, President and CEO of Edelman Canada in a release. “In fact, we’re seeing similar trend lines as our neighbours in the United States.”
The international study on public perception of institutions and their leaders sampled 33,000 online respondents in 28 countries in October and November last year.
For the first time, Canada made it onto the list of “distrusters” – countries with a distrust of their own institutions – instead of qualifying as “neutral”, as in recent years.
One in two Canadians surveyed believed the increase of people coming to Canada from other countries is damaging our economy and national culture.
Some 80% of respondents believed that the “elites who run institutions” are out of touch with regular people.
As well, a third said they would fully support political leaders that make their lives easier, even if they stretch the truth.
“Canadians are telling us they are worried about their futures and don’t trust our institutions to fix their concerns,” said Kimmel.
Populism is a form of anti-establishment politics that aims to gain the votes of ordinary people in a campaign portrayed as a fight against corrupt elites.
This sentiment has been growing in political campaigns around the world over the past year, most recently culminating in the election of Donald Trump as US President.
Following Trump’s election, outspoken American political commentator and activist Van Jones warned that Canada was not immune to this divisive style of politics.
The survey results would seem to suggest this is true, with a large divide between the “informed public” (educated, upper-quartile income earners) and the rest of the country.
While 62% of respondents qualifying as the “informed public” had trust in institutions, only 47% of the rest of the respondents shared that trust.
“Canada needs to confront its challenges head on with an appreciation for the fundamental shift that has occurred in influence, from elites to populist power,” said Kimmel.
“Economic challenges, globalization, technological change and information echo chambers are undermining trust. The imperative to regain trust in Canadian institutions has never been greater.”