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

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.
More in News

From staffer to minister: the rise of Mary Ng

News|By Jolson Lim
In 16 months, the ex-PMO manager went from rookie backbencher to cabinet, but while some might say her connections got her where she is, she says it's 20 years of experience in government and politics.

Power to the people: Maxime Bernier turns to social networks to boost base

His People’s Party could go further than nascent political parties of the past, with social media as a means of stoking the grassroots fires, supporters suggest.

Senators, opposition MPs await Liberal response to ‘common sense’ changes to anti-harassment bill

The Senate passed Bill C-65 with seven amendments in the spring, and those along with the regulations put forward in the summer firm up the legislation, say critics.

New business coalition makes late-stage play in NAFTA talks to keep trade free

News|By Beatrice Paez
The formation of the Coalition to Keep Trade Free comes as Canada is facing an Oct. 1 deadline to sign onto the agreement struck between Mexico and the U.S.

After rocky summer, NDP should showcase star MPs Cullen, Brosseau, Boulerice, ‘win a narrative battle,’ says former party strategist

Their challenge is to differentiate themselves from the Liberals and say why they’re better, strategists say, to build a 'compelling narrative.'

Conservatives ‘keen’ to make 2019 election about the economy, say observers

Political observers expect to start seeing policy trail balloons floating this fall, and the beginning of ‘persuasion advertising,’ with the next federal election almost a year out.

Toronto-area Liberal MP leaves party to join Scheer’s Conservatives

News|By Beatrice Paez
Rookie MP Leona Alleslev's defection, which she said is supported by many of her constituents, is seen as a boost to the Conservatives who hope to scoop up seats in the Greater Toronto Area.

From CPTPP to NAFTA, trade to top agenda in the House this fall

‘Coming up in the first few weeks and months it’s going to be a heavy trade-focused session,’ says NDP House Leader Ruth Ellen Brosseau.

Conservatives, NDP dealing with internal feuds, upbeat Trudeau Liberals ‘excited’ for fall sitting

News|By Abbas Rana
Liberals MPs were briefed by party officials and Liberal Research Bureau staffers about polling numbers, fundraising, strategy, and nominations in held and unheld ridings.