People from coast to coast are celebrating Canada Day today but, according to a newly released poll, half of them find little reason to toast their federal and provincial governments.
The survey, conducted by Angus Reid Global in mid-May and interviewing some 1,500 Canadians online, found that just 49 per cent of Canadians said they held a favourable view of their federal or provincial governments.
Canadians feel this country excels at many things, including quality of life and the safety of our cities. But just 35 per cent thought that Canada's quality of government ranked as either world class or above average.
This dim view of the institutions that govern us did not extend as strongly to local and municipal governments. Two-thirds of Canadians said they had a favourable view of these institutions, rising to 78 per cent in Quebec.
Ontarians, along with residents of the Prairies, were the least likely to hold a favourable view of their local/municipal governments. Just 59 per cent said they view these institutions favourably.
How much of that can be chalked up to Rob Ford we can only speculate.
The popularity of provincial governments varied widely. Though overall just 49 per cent said they held a favourable view of their provincial government, that topped out at 63 per cent in Quebec, and was lowest in Ontario and Alberta, where it stood at 42 per cent.
The poll was taken in the midst of the Ontario provincial campaign, so it is difficult to gauge what exactly the low score there means. But the Progressive Conservative government of Alberta, currently in search of a new leader, is deeply unpopular.
The new government of Philippe Couillard in Quebec is on better footing according to recent polls, and Quebecers do identify more with their provincial government than Canadians elsewhere in the country. But it is still surprising to see Quebecers holding the brightest views of their provincial government.
This may be due to the fact that Quebecers are the least likely to see the federal government as an important part of their lives. While 67 per cent of Quebecers said the federal government had a major or a fair amount of impact in their day-to-day lives, that was the lowest in the country by a significant margin.
Albertans were the most likely to hold a favourable view of the federal government, at 59 per cent. Of course, Albertans also sent 27 Conservative MPs to Ottawa in 2011, out of a possible 28. Favourable views of the federal government were lowest in the Prairies (38 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (40 per cent).
How might the federal government improve its perception among Canadians? They clearly have some work to do. While 49 per cent might not be terribly low considering the general unpopularity of politicians as a whole, it is a troubling sign when the federal government can take lessons in likability from the Canada Revenue Agency (64 per cent favourability).
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.
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