Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Social Issues Divide Canadians and Americans

Social issues divide Canadians, Americans: poll News Staff
Updated: Wed. Dec. 1 2004 1:26 PM ET

Canadians and Americans have distinct views of how Canada differs from the U.S., a new poll has found.

Eighty-one per cent of Canadians view their country as distinct from the U.S., but only 50 per cent of Americans hold the same view, said the Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for CTV and The Globe and Mail.

"What it says is Canadians fundamentally believe there is a difference between the two countries," John Wright, Ipsos-Reid's senior vice-president, told CTV News.

"And underneath all that, it's absolutely true. Whether its on religion, education, same-sex marriage or marijuana -- name a range of issues, including missile defence -- there's a fundamental difference between how we see the world around us and they see the world around them," he said.

Two examples in this poll are religion and the death penalty.

The poll asked 1,000 Americans and 1,000 Canadians how they felt about this statement: "My religious faith is very important to me in my day-to-day life."

Eighty-two per cent of Americans agreed with that statement, with a majority indicating they strongly agreed with it.

In comparison, only 64 per cent of Canadians said they agreed.

When it comes to support of the death penalty, 71 per cent of Americans endorse its use but only 42 per cent of Canadians.

"I think Canadians see themselves as more circumspect, more worldly, more tolerant than the society next door," Wright said. "It doesn't make us any better, but it certainly makes us quite different."

Cross-border opinions converge somewhat on the issue of security.

Almost an equal number of Canadian and American respondents say they disagree with the following: "A terrorist attack will likely be launched from Canada in the future into the United States."

Asked if "Canada is doing its share to ensure its border is secure and protected from terrorists entering the United States," 73 per cent of Canadian respondents agreed but only 58 per cent of U.S. ones did.

"What seems to come out of this poll is a lot of myths that are busted," Wright said.

"Most Americans believe we are doing our share, that we are doing something to help the war on terrorism."

In the wake of U.S. President George W. Bush's re-election on Nov. 2, there was some publicity given to Americans who want to emigrate to Canada.

The poll found about 10 per cent of U.S. respondents have considered moving to Canada and about eight per cent of Canadian respondents have considering moving to the U.S.

Surveying for the poll was conducted between Nov. 19 and 22. The poll is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.