A recent survey shows that most Canadians now consider China, instead of Russia, to be the biggest threat to Canada.
The findings revealed the most significant number of negative views Canadians have toward China ever recorded by the MLI. A total of 73 percent of Canadians see China negatively, while only 7 percent have an at least moderately positive view.
By contrast, Russia is also viewed negatively by 72 percent of Canadians, while it is seen in a positive light by 7 percent of the interviewees.
China topped the list among the four countries which Canadians considered to be a “serious threat to Canada,” followed by Russia, Iran, and the United States.
“This study confirms yet again how out of sync the Government of Canada is with public opinion on China’s emerging threat to Canadian sovereignty and national security,” said Charles Burton, a senior fellow at MLI. “As a consequence, the credibility of Canada’s claim of principled commitment to the international rules-based order rings hollowed and hollowed as the years go by.”
Canadians who dislike China fall into two camps—those who dislike great powers and those who see China as an opponent of the West.
“Canadians are suspicious of great powers in the world, including our American allies,” said Balkan Devlen, a Senior Fellow at MLI. “We believe we can engage in foreign affairs without subordinating our interests to great powers, and should explore opportunities for strategic engagement with other democratic states around the world.”
Canadians also demonstrate strong opinions toward the country’s influence in international relations.
While only half (53 percent) of interviewees believe Canada to be at least moderately influential in the world, the large cohort of Canadians (72 percent) found it important for the country to be influential.
“Despite promises that ‘Canada is back,’ Canadians largely believe that this is not the case; that our place in the world remains underleveraged,” said Devlen. “While Canadians understand Canada’s position as a middle power country, they largely believe that Ottawa must do more to improve our stature and standing on the global stage.”
The opinions from 1,023 Canadians national-wide were collected between Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, 2020. The national sample has a 3.1 percent margin of error. The poll was done with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.