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Canadians’ dislike of Donald Trump reaches new heights

WASHINGTON—Canadians really do not like President Donald Trump. And their distaste for the U.S. president is dragging their opinion of the entire country down to record low levels.

In that, they are not alone, as a Pew Research survey released Tuesday showed dramatically low favourability for both the U.S. and Trump among residents of 13 nations in Europe, North America and Asia.

“In several countries, the share of the public with a favourable view of the U.S. is as low as it has been at any point since the Center began polling on this topic nearly two decades ago,” the Pew Report reads.

Among Canadians, only 20 per cent expressed confidence in Trump to “do the right thing regarding world affairs,” a new low for a president whose previous standing was already a record nadir for American presidents in the 20-year history of Pew’s survey. George W. Bush reached a previous low of 28 per cent confidence among Canadians during the Iraq War period in 2007, while Barack Obama inspired Canadian confidence throughout his presidency, trusted by 83 per cent of Canadians when he left office in 2017.

Their opinion of Trump seems to be poisoning Canadians on the country that elected him. During the mid-2000s, while Bush was unpopular among Canadians, most continued to have a favourable impression of the country itself — in 2007, the depth of Bush’s personal favourability in Canada, a majority 55 per cent of Canadians still held a favourable view of the U.S., and that rating remained a majority opinion, often with well over 60 per cent of Canadians favourable, throughout Bush and Obama’s terms. But less than half of Canadians held a favourable opinion of the U.S. beginning in 2017 when Trump took office, and has bottomed out to a record low of 35 per cent in the new report.

Even among Canadians who describe themselves as being “right” wing, a majority still hold an unfavourable opinion of the U.S. at the moment, with only 44 per cent generally favourable towards the country, compared with 25 per cent of those on the left, according to the survey.

Canadian firm Ekos research recently found similar results when they polled Canadian opinion on Trump and the U.S. In one Ekos survey this summer, 79 per cent of Canadians said they feared the U.S. was “on the verge of chaos.” That Ekos survey sampled 1,021 Canadians, leading to an estimated margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

“It’s amazing,” Frank Graves, the president of Ekos Research recently said on the phone. “Canadians are saying their outlook on the United States is the most unfavourable ever.”

Graves says Trump’s approval among Canadians he’s surveyed is “in the mid-15 per cent range,” and that “this is unprecedented. In the height of the, you know, Iraq War, there was enormous antipathy in Canada to George W. Bush, but even then it pales compared to the level of approval of Donald Trump.”

Graves says a range of issues are driving the opinions towards Trump and the country he leads, but key among them is the coronavirus response: 72 per cent of Canadians feel the U.S. would stand a better chance of recovering from the crisis with a change in government in the upcoming November election.

“When I ask, ‘When do you think we should think about opening the border?’ They go, ‘Well, maybe never,’” Graves says.

That, too, aligns with Pew’s findings. In the Pew survey, 83 per cent of Canadians say the U.S. has handled the coronavirus either “very badly” or “somewhat badly” — as compared to their opinion of Canada’s handling of the virus, which 88 per cent of Canadians say has been good.

The Pew survey drew on phone interviews with “nationally representative” samples of 13,273 adults from June 10 to Aug. 3 of this year in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The Pew report does not include an estimated margin of error.

According to Pew’s report, these sentiments towards the U.S. are fairly common around the world. Some countries expressed even greater antipathy toward the U.S. — Germany has only 26 per cent holding a favourable opinion of the U.S., France 31 per cent, and Australia 33 per cent. Of the countries in the survey, only South Korea continued to have a majority favourable impression of the U.S., at 59 per cent.



Across all 13 countries, a median of only 15 per cent say the U.S. has done a good job dealing with coronavirus, and only 16 per cent have confidence in Trump to do the right thing for the world. Belgium expressed the least confidence in Trump at nine per cent, Japan the most with a still anemic 25 per cent confidence in the U.S. president.

Trump is even less trusted — among Canadians and those in the other countries in Pew’s survey — than the leaders of Russia and China. Among Canadians, 24 per cent had confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin, 22 per cent in Chinese President Xi Jinping, and only 20 per cent in Trump. The median of all countries in the survey ranked the trust in those leaders similarly, with Putin at 23 per cent, Xi at 19 per cent, and Trump at 16 per cent.

Edward Keenan

Edward Keenan is the Star’s Washington Bureau chief. He covers U.S. politics and current affairs. Reach him via email: [email protected]

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