By Lord Ashcroft
This article was first published in Canada’s National Post
One reason the Ottawa truckers’ protest at the start of this year captured international attention was that political flashpoints are vanishingly rare in what is, to outsiders, a famously harmonious country.
As a pollster used to studying the fractious politics of Britain and the US, I wondered whether the blockade was an isolated blot on Canada’s peaceful political landscape, or a sign of emerging tensions. I also wanted to see what the results meant for the long-serving Trudeau government and – as a former deputy chairman of the UK Conservatives during their long wilderness years – for the centre-right opposition as it chooses a new leader and a new direction.
My poll of 10,000 Canadians, together with focus groups throughout the country, finds few signs of the polarisation that shapes politics in the US and parts of Europe. Canadians largely agree that their country is among the best places in the world to live, that opportunities exist for those prepared to take them, and that more should be done to promote the rights of indigenous people. There is a wide consensus that in important respects Canadian life has improved in recent years, especially when it comes to the environment, minority rights and embracing diversity.
But Canadians also agree on what has got worse (more…)