Concerns have long been expressed about the extent of influence exercised by powerful or well-connected groups in society over the direction of the government. The latest Environics Institute Focus Canada survey, conducted during the last two weeks of the recent federal election campaign, explores these concerns by asking Canadians about which groups have too much or too little influence in Canadian politics. The results show that Canadians are much more likely to be concerned about the influence of the wealthy or of large corporations than of other types of interests – a perspective that has not changed much over time. In fact, Canadians are almost twice as likely to say that large Canadian corporations have too much influence as they are to say the same about unions. New technology companies like Google and Facebook are also seen by most Canadians as being too influential, as is the government of the United States.
In contrast, Canadians are more likely to say that environmental groups, Indigenous Peoples, ethnic minorities, feminists and university professors have too little influence in Canadian politics than they are to say these groups have too much. This view is most pronounced in the case of Indigenous Peoples – a majority of Canadians say that Indigenous Peoples have too little influence in Canadian politics.
While, overall, Canadians are more likely to say that environmental groups have too little influence than they are to say that they have too much, there are some important variations in opinion, notably by region. Albertans are more than twice as likely as other Canadians to say that environmental groups have too much influence in Canadians politics. In no other region outside of Alberta do a majority, or even a plurality, concur. A majority of Conservative Party supporters also say that environmental groups have too much influence, in contrast to majorities of those supporting other major parties, who say that environmental groups have too little influence.
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For more information, contact Andrew Parkin.