Home Page News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Hill Times Books Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Global

Quebec survey respondents positive, pragmatic about ties with China

By Pascale Massot, Paul Evans, Xiaojun Li      

A new survey shows that Quebecers have views of China even more positive than in the rest of Canada.

Quebec respondents who completed a recent survey for the University of British Columbia and University of Ottawa in French are even more positive about China than those who completed the survey in English, though sample sizes are too small to draw any firm conclusions. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

As Ottawa awaits the outcome of the NAFTA negotiations and amidst deepening tensions in United States-China relations, a new survey shows that Quebecers have views of China and the prospect of deeper relations even more positive than in the rest of Canada.

Conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of a research team based at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia and the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa, the survey conducted in March used identical questions posed to a national sample in September 2017. Respondents had the option of responding in either official language, 296 choosing English and 225 French.

Paul Evans is a professor with the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. Photograph courtesy of Paul Evans

Contrary to media speculation that Quebecers would be more anxious than other Canadians about China’s rising presence and influence, in several key areas Quebec residents were in fact more optimistic about opportunities and less concerned about the risks.

Like Canadians elsewhere, Quebec respondents see trade and investment as the top priorities for the federal government followed by cooperation on global issues including climate change, counter-terrorism, and peacekeeping. Seventy-two per cent support negotiation of a Canada-China free trade agreement, slightly higher than the 69 per cent in the national survey in 2017.

Fully 48 per cent hold a favourable view of China compared to 36 per cent in the national survey. This compares to 53 per cent who hold a favourable view of the United States, a figure almost identical to that in the national survey.

Pascale Massot is an assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Photograph courtesy of Paul Evans

Like the national sample, a significant majority of Quebec respondents feel that China will surpass the United States in the next decade as the world’s largest economic power. They also see that in the next decade China will be a more responsible global leader than the United States, more likely to maintain global peace, be more respectful of people around the world, and be better at addressing environmental issues. They are slightly less concerned about China’s influence on housing affordability.

Xiaojun Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Photograph courtesy of Paul Evans

Views of China’s political system and human rights record are as negative as they are in the rest of Canada. Unlike the national sample, Quebec respondents ranked advancing human rights in China ahead of protecting Canadian values and institutions at home from a rising Chinese presence. They are more likely to disagree with the proposition that China is too powerful to be pressured about its human rights situation and more likely to view the strengthening of rule of law as the best way to improve human rights.

The two surveys point to continued anxiety about global order and leadership in the era of Donald Trump. Despite this—perhaps because of this—Canadians inside and outside Quebec harbour a willingness to expand relations with China even while they’re aware of its more assertive foreign and defence policies and rising presence inside Canada.

This pragmatism stands in contrast to the frequent negativity of editorial opinions about Xi Jinping’s China in much of the mainstream English-language media. Quebec respondents who completed the survey in French are even more positive about China than those who completed the survey in English, though sample sizes are too small to draw any firm conclusions.

In Quebec, social media is the most frequent source of news about China followed by TV, whereas online newspapers and blogs take the top spot Canada-wide. The evidence that a considerably higher proportion of Quebecers (42 per cent) almost never listen, watch, or read news about China as compared to 27 per cent in the rest of Canada may help explain the link between media exposure and attitudes.

The results from both the Quebec and national surveys suggest that the door is open to a more active agenda by the Trudeau government in deepening relations and living with a China that Canadians across the country recognize as increasingly important to their future.

The full results for the Quebec survey, including for the aggregate and both the French and English language responses, as well as the October 2017 national survey are available at www.iar.ubc.ca/reports.

Paul Evans is a professor with the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. Xiaojun Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the same university. Pascale Massot is an assistant professor in the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. 

The Hill Times

More in News

Feds unveil new requirements in its funding for infrastructure projects

The new rules will extend to projects under review through the feds’ Smart Cities Challenge, a $75-million competition among cities to encourage innovation, and the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

Trudeau in the ‘penalty box,’ Conservatives top Liberals, poll suggests

News|By Beatrice Paez
The Conservatives have 36 per cent support, while the governing Liberals fall slightly behind, at 34 per cent, and the NDP is at 18 per cent, according to new Campaign Research poll results.

‘We’re in uncharted waters’: public personal attacks unprecedented in Canada-U.S. relationship, say ex-ambassadors to Washington, Ottawa

News|By Neil Moss
Several ex-U.S. envoys say the current ambassador, Kelly Craft, is in a tougher spot than they were, and at least one Canadian is emailing with her to provide support.

Extreme partisanship to blame for sustained spike in time allocation, ex-MPs say

‘The challenge is for people to actually act like grown-ups, work behind the scenes,’ says former Conservative House leader Jay Hill.

Canada’s approach to Trump administration in 2018 was ‘the right one,’ says Trudeau as summer break begins

News|By Jolson Lim
'One of things we’ve seen from the president is that he prides himself on a certain degree of unpredictability,' said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at an end-of-sitting press conference today.

Canada seen to ‘dial back’ UN Security Council bid, say insiders, all ‘rhetoric,’ no action

While some say there's still time ahead of the 2020 vote, many question whether there's political will to get the job done.

Clerk’s comments ‘not providing leadership’ to change public service culture, say opposition MPs

News|By Emily Haws
Liberal MPs blame a Harper-era atmosphere in the bureaucracy as they back PCO Clerk Michael Wernick in his war of words with the federal auditor.

Unions swamped by Phoenix; hiring staff to keep afloat

News|By Emily Haws
‘It’s just been overwhelming,’ says CAPE leader Greg Phillips as government announces union partnership to find new pay system.

Ottawa’s efforts to restore relations with Tehran going ‘nowhere,’ says academic

News|By Beatrice Paez
Consular issues tend to 'occupy a lot of the bandwidth of relations,' making it hard for both parties to break new ground, says Thomas Juneau, a professor at the University of Ottawa.