Friday, October 5, 2012

Opinions on free trade

The polling being a little sparse, the most interesting set of numbers to come out this week has to do with what Canadians think of free trade. I invite you to read my analysis of a new Nanos Research poll on the subject for The Huffington Post Canada here.

In short, Canadians do not have a consensus opinion on our free trade agreements with the United States and Mexico but are peachy keen on new ones with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which does not include China).

The regional variations are not very surprising, but it is interesting that they emerge from the survey nevertheless. Take a look at the analysis.

That Canadians seem to be opening up to the idea of free trade with very foreign countries (concerns about the cultural infiltration of the United States is one of the reasons why Canadians have never warmed up to NAFTA completely) is in some way demonstrated by no major party in the House of Commons being an adamant opponent to it.

The Conservatives have tried to sign as many free trade agreements as possible and the Liberals are also in support of free trade. Under Thomas Mulcair, the New Democrats are opening up to the idea of free trade too, a turn towards the centre that - when looking at these Nanos numbers - makes a good deal of sense for them. Quebecers and British Columbians, the two electorates that I would consider the party's first two planks in an NDP government, are among Canada's most open to new free trade agreements and to our agreements currently in place. A more cautious approach, rather than their traditional opposition, may be the smartest one for the NDP to take.