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Opinion: Canadian pride in the country’s Parliament, economy and courts in rapid decline

Canadians' perceptions about what makes them proud have changed moderately when compared to 2021 – with a few glaring exceptions.
When surveyed, 78 per cent of Canadians said the Canadian flag is a source of pride

As the country prepares to observe the first Canada Day since 2019 where the COVID-19 pandemic is not a primary concern, our perceptions about what makes us proud have changed moderately when compared to 2021 – with a few glaring exceptions.

When Research Co. and Glacier Media asked Canadians to rate 12 institutions and features earlier this month, the Canadian flag emerged as a source of pride for 78 per cent of Canadians. This represents a one-point increase from 2021, but some significant differences remain. Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely to feel proud about the flag (89 per cent) than their counterparts aged 35 to 54 (76 per cent) and aged 18 to 34 (68 per cent).  

Regionally, pride in the Canadian flag grabs more than four in five residents of Ontario (83 per cent), Atlantic Canada (also 83 per cent), British Columbia (82 per cent) and Alberta (81 per cent). The proportions are lower in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (78 per cent) and Quebec (68 per cent).

Multiculturalism is now ranked No. 2 on the list of sources of pride with 69 per cent (unchanged), followed by hockey at 68 per cent (up two points) and the Canadian Armed Forces at 65 per cent (down two points). There are some major generational gaps on these three issues. Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely to voice positive feelings about the sport and the soldiers, while their counterparts aged 18 to 34 are decidedly fonder of the mosaic.

Five other institutions and features elicit feelings of pride among a majority of Canadians. Bilingualism remains at 59 per cent countrywide, aided by a very high rating in Quebec (63 per cent). Albertans, on the other hand, appear particularly derisive (46 per cent).

The biggest variation on our tracking data belongs to the health-care system, which has experienced a steady decline. In 2019, 77 per cent of Canadians said the country’s medical services made them proud. The proportion fell slightly to 75 per cent in 2020, as the pandemic was beginning to command our attention. Last year, only 64 per cent of Canadians expressed pride in the health-care system. In 2022, the number dropped once again, to 58 per cent.

The gender gap on health care is enormous. While 66 per cent of men feel pride in the country’s medical services, only 51 per cent of women concur. Ontarians and Albertans are particularly pleased about this feature of life in Canada (71 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively), but the rating plummets in Quebec (45 per cent).

We also see a significant drop in the proportion of Canadians who are proud of Indigenous culture (58 per cent, down four points). On this issue, the main difference is political. Almost two-thirds of Canadians who voted for the Liberal Party of Canada (65 per cent) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) (64 per cent) in last year’s federal election are proud of Indigenous culture. The proportion is lower among those who cast ballots for Conservative Party Of Canada candidates (56 per cent).

Staying with the topic of politics, only 57 per cent of Canadians (down four points) are proud of the state of democracy in Canada. Liberal voters have practically no qualms about the current situation (79 per cent), but satisfaction is lower among New Democrats (55 per cent) and Tories (48 per cent).

We now reach the four institutions and features that fail to elicit pride in a majority of Canadians. Just below the 50 per cent mark we find the Canadian justice system (49 per cent, down three points) and the Canadian economy (also 49 per cent, unchanged). It is important to note that three years ago, 80 per cent of Canadians were proud of the country’s finances. The pandemic, as well as lingering concerns about housing and inflation, are clearly affecting our views.

As the country experiences a minority government buttressed by an Opposition party, only 45 per cent of Canadians say Parliament makes them proud. This represents a five-point decrease since 2021 – just months before the last federal election took place.

A level of pride of 45 per cent for Parliament is still far from the lowest total registered in 2008 (32 per cent). It is not surprising to see residents of Alberta (35 per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (31 per cent) providing a low rating on this question, since the political party most of them supported did not form the government. In Ontario, 54 per cent of residents are proud of Parliament – the highest proportion in the entire country.

The monarchy is at the bottom of the list, albeit with a slightly higher rating than in 2021. More than a third of Canadians (37 per cent, up three points) say they are proud of this institution. The striking issue this year is how specific regions have shifted. In Quebec, which has traditionally been scathing in its assessment of the monarchy, only 31 per cent of residents express pride.

The biggest surprise arrives in British Columbia, where last year 44 per cent of residents said the monarchy made them proud. In 2022, this proportion has dropped to a Canada-wide low of 27 per cent. The past 12 months have featured intense discussions about the future of the institution, as well as renewed interest in colonialism – not just in Canada, but also in other Commonwealth countries. We will have to wait to see how these numbers move when a new monarch ascends the throne. But, as has been the case for the past 14 years, the monarchy is not what comes to mind when Canadians think about national pride.

Mario Canseco is president of Research Co.

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 18 to June 20, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error, which measures sample variability, is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.