Most Canadians have a negative view of Brexit and believe that Canada should prioritize its relationship with the European Union (EU) over the United Kingdom (U.K.) once Brexit has occurred. That is the outcome of a study commissioned by Carleton University’s Achim Hurrelmann, a professor in the Department of Political Science.

Nanos Research conducted the study. It forms part of a larger research initiative on The Reconfiguration of Canada-Europe Relations after Brexit, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and involving academic partners from across Canada.

The study surveyed 1,013 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, from across the country. The full report is available here.

“The U.K. has for decades been Canada’s most important economic and political partner in Europe,” said Hurrelmann, co-director of the Centre for European Studies at Carleton. “However, our survey suggests that Brexit has hurt how Canadians view the U.K. as an international partner. No matter whether we are talking about trade, security, energy or climate change, a majority of Canadians now say that, after Brexit, Canada should prioritize its relationship with the EU.”

A large majority of Canadians have a positive or somewhat positive opinion of the EU at nearly 75 per cent. A majority of Canadians are unsympathetic (48 per cent) or somewhat unsympathetic (16 per cent) towards the idea of Brexit. Interestingly, Canadians who usually vote conservative federally are split on sympathy for Brexit and are more likely to prioritize the relationship with the U.K. around policies than other Canadians.

“Partisan differences in perceptions of Brexit are striking,” said Hurrelmann. “Forty-six per cent of Conservatives view Brexit with sympathy, but only 13 per cent of Liberals and eight per cent of New Democrats. It is important to remember that Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has been an outspoken advocate of Brexit. However, in all fields except security, even most Conservatives think that Canada should prioritize its relations with the EU.”

Other findings from the report:

  • More than half of Canadians feel their closest affinity to a place outside of North America is Europe.
  • Canadians most frequently say that having a democratic system of government is the most important aspect of the relationship between Canada and European countries.
  • Regardless of their negative perception of Brexit, close to six in 10 Canadians say referendums are a good way to decide contentious issues.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019 in
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