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CANADIANS BULLISH ON CANADA

September 1, 2016

By Bruce Anderson & David Coletto

In our latest national survey of 2,010 Canadian adults, we asked Canadians what they thought about the potential for Canada to win new investment from around the world.

ATTRACTING INVESTMENT TO CANADA

Prime Minister Trudeau has been making a case for inbound foreign investment, and two in three (65%) are inclined to believe there are real opportunities for Canada to become a place more companies want to invest in growing. About one in three (35%) feel differently, judging the effort hopeful, but unlikely to succeed.

Majorities in every region sense real opportunities, with those living in BC (72%) and Atlantic Canada (79%) leading the bullish sentiment and Quebecers lagging (57%).

Young and old, men and women were equally optimistic about the potential.

Optimism was the majority view across the political spectrum, with Liberal voters particularly bullish, and Conservatives somewhat more skeptical than others.


8 IN 10 FEEL THIS SHOULD BE A PRIORITY FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Eight in ten Canadians feel that trying to attract new investment into Canada should be a major or significant priority for the federal government.

More than 3 in 4 people in every region want inbound investment promotion to be a major or significant priority for Ottawa. Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats are unusually aligned in believing this is important work for the federal government.


WHAT WOULD ATTRACT POTENTIAL INVESTORS?

We asked respondents about Canada’s strengths or weaknesses when it comes to attracting potential investors into Canada.

• Canadians say our 5 most appealing attributes are resources (74%), energy (61%), scenery (57%), cultural diversity (56%) and tolerance of differences.

• Close behind were Canada’s law and order (51%), our universities (51%), and our cities (50%) as major strengths.

• While fewer consider them “major strengths”, large majorities felt that our knowledge of the world, and our work ethic were advantages when it comes to attracting investment.
• Our most notable perceived weaknesses were our climate and level of taxation. In the case of taxation, a slight majority see that as a weakness for Canada.

• Areas where the results suggest Canadians believe there is room to improve somewhat include our regulatory system, our transportation system, and our broadband networks. A small minority felt these were weaknesses, but few felt they were major strengths.



Looking at differences across political affiliation, we find that:

Liberal voters tend to be the most enthused about Canada’s strengths almost across the board, with Conservative voters generally less so, and NDP voters in the middle. Supporters of all three parties tend to agree on the value of our natural resources, scenery.

The biggest gap between Liberal and Conservative voters is on the value of cultural diversity and tolerance of differences.



THE UPSHOT

Bruce Anderson: “Given the geopolitical turmoil that has marked recent years, including the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Prime Minister’s efforts to invite global investors to consider Canada, combined with higher media profile for Canada in recent months, is an economic x-factor that bears watching closely.

Because Canadian governments have long made efforts to win global investment for Canada, it remains to be seen whether these times and these efforts by Mr. Trudeau will result in greater success – but for the moment, the large majority of people think this work is important for the federal government – and 2 out of 3 feel there are reasons to feel optimistic.

What’s interesting as well is that many Canadians sense that our strengths may start with abundant resources and energy but also include cultural diversity, a solid work ethic, and good universities. The fact that many wonder if our taxation levels are a drawback probably indicates that governments have some room to use tax incentives as part of a strategy to develop more inbound investment.

David Coletto: “Most Canadians feel optimistic that Canada can attract new investment from global companies and think the federal government should make it a significant priority. Trade missions and international trips that raise Canada’s profile and seek out new investors are things most Canadians support their political leaders doing.

There’s little we see as hurdles preventing Canada from doing better. Most recognize that our natural resources, access to energy, our diversity, and tolerance of others are assets that separate Canada from other markets. First-class universities, a good work ethic, and our stable political system are all strengths when it comes to attracting investment.

Many feel our tax rates could be lower and the weather a bit less frigid, but all in all, we generally agree that Canada has a lot to offer the world and businesses that want to invest and do business here.”

METHODOLOGY

Our survey was conducted online with 2,010 Canadians aged 18 and over from August 22 to 25, 2016. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of over 500,000 Canadians.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 2,010 is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Abacus Data Inc.

We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value-added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, Ph.D.


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