2015 National Opinion Poll: Canadian Views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

For more than 10 years, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada's National Opinion Poll has examined Canadian opinion and attitudes towards Canada's engagement with Asia. This year, APF Canada commissioned EKOS to conduct the survey of 1,554 Canadians and focused on attitudes towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Key findings include:

Canadians are Divided on the TPP

Approximately two-fifths (41%) of Canadians support the prospective trade agreement, while an almost equal proportion of Canadians (38%) oppose the agreement. Placed in the context of previous polls about Canadian attitudes toward the TPP, these findings indicate the public is increasingly divided on the trade agreement.

Canadians Anticipate Some Good, Some Bad Outcomes From the TPP

Opinion is currently divided on whether the TPP will be good or bad for Canada’s economy. Overall, one-third (33%) of Canadians think the agreement will be good for the economy, almost one-third (31%) think it will be bad for the economy, and 15% think the TPP will be neither good nor bad for Canada’s economy.

In terms of specific outcomes, Canadians see the TPP having a mix of positive and negative impacts. On the one hand, a majority of respondents think the TPP will lead to job loss (61%).

On the other hand, majorities also anticipate lower prices for consumers (53%), agree that the TPP will lessen Canadian dependence on the U.S. market (60%), and see the TPP leading to friendlier relations with other countries (65%).

Canadians Support Free Trade Agreements With the Countries in the TPP

Canadians view themselves as in favour of free trade. 66% of respondents say they support signing free trade agreements with other countries in general. A majority (52%) says international trade has helped the Canadian economy overall, with 33% saying international trade has hurt the Canadian economy.

There is strong support for trade agreements with the specific countries in the TPP zone. For nine of the 11 TPP countries, a majority of Canadians support a free trade agreement. Support is particularly high for FTAs with some of the larger TPP signatories, such as Australia (77%), the U.S. (77%) and Japan (70%). There is clearly a gap between Canadians’ strong support for trade and free trade agreements generally, and their soft support for the TPP specifically.

Canadians Have Limited Knowledge of the TPP

Results show that Canadians have limited knowledge of the TPP. In three of the four knowledge questions, the most common answer was “don’t know.” In particular, Canadians are unclear as to which countries are in the TPP. For instance, more Canadians incorrectly identify China as a country in the TPP (35%) than those that correctly identify China as not being in the TPP (20%). Those who have the most knowledge of the TPP also tend to be the most supportive of the agreement.

Support for the TPP is Likely to Grow

Canadians support international trade and free trade agreements. In almost all cases, Canadians strongly support signing bilateral FTAs with the member countries of the TPP. This suggests that Canadians’ attitudes toward the TPP have yet to align with their positive attitudes toward trade in general.