On June 08 of this year the marketing and opinion research company ABACUS released its results and conclusions from a poll of 1,500 Canadians on how they feel about Canada with 'a focus on the levels of trust people have in institutional sources of information, and belief in conspiracy theories'. I did not take part in the poll.
Canada, it would appear from their analysis is a 'hot bed' of 'conspiracy theorists' while their results highlight differences in the thoughts of Canadians east of Winnipeg and those living west of the windy city.
Although the results are interesting and hopefully answer all of the questions posed (apparently by one or more Canadian political parties but ABACUS does not disclose the questioner), fifteen hundred people out of a population of thirteen million adults is only 0.011% (0.000115) of an apparently widely divided nation. Not really representative of Canadians in my mind and just one of the issues I have with this poll.
Similarly one must tread carefully when considering the 'analysis' portion of the ABACUS poll because as they freely admit, ABACUS is in the business of building compelling narratives to fit the customer agenda. Their website states that, “If you’re looking to conduct research to create a case for support for your policy priorities or product, we will help you shape the findings into a clear and compelling narrative – whether that’s in the form of a PowerPoint presentation, written report, or presentation to your Board or key stakeholders.”
A widely divided nation? Well, according to their poll results almost half (44%) of those interviewed found themselves agreeing with the statement “much of the information we receive from news organizations is false.” Similarly, more than half (52%) of those interviewed found themselves agreeing with the statement “official government accounts of events can’t be trusted”.
So who are these 'doubters' of authority? ABACUS says that Canadians 'with no post-secondary education, Alberta residents and those on 'the right' show greater mistrust in media and government. By far the biggest differences are visible when we look at party affinity. The vast majority of People’s Party supporters don’t trust news organizations and a (smaller) majority – 59% – of Conservative voters feel the same way.' Similarly, 'majorities of People’s Party, Conservative and Green Party voters indicate mistrust. Those on the left and Liberal voters show higher levels of trust.'
You will be forgiven if you don't know of the Peoples Party of Canada (PPC) because Canadian news organizations don't mention them or when they do, refer to them as 'fringe'. Why does this poll seem to focus on this 'fringe' party if it is of no importance?
Of course with all of this 'mistrust' going around, the poll asked several questions about 'COVID' and how government and media has responded to it, but the questions are ludicrous and make those responding sound 'uninformed' at the very least. For instance one question asks;
Do you agree or disagree with the statement that; “Covid was caused by rollout of 5G wireless technology as electromagnetic frequencies undermined immune systems.”
A second question asks where people stand on the statement, “Covid vaccines include secret chips designed to monitor and control behaviour.”
Thankfully only 9% of those polled agreed with the 5G question and only 11% agreed with the secret chip question. I am thankful for those low numbers because it means to me that the majority of 'doubters' (half of Canada if you believe the poll) realized that the questions were 'leading' and designed to dismiss people who responded in the affirmative as being 'out there'. Even ABACUS notes rather disparagingly of that same 'fringe' political party that “There is little doubt that much of the foundation of the People’s Party rests on the willingness of supporters to believe things that aren’t true.”
Again, why is so much time spent on a 'nothing' political party and its supporters? That concept of the PPC being 'fringe' or 'nothing' is not mine but rather the ideas which Canada's state controlled media outlets would have you believe.
In fact Mr. Bernier was a serious threat to the power brokers in Ottawa before COVID and a lightening rod for those who desire change in Canadian politics, but Canadian media put an end to that. Is it possible Maxime's star is now rising again? This excessive attention in the ABACUS poll is making me think so.
While reading the poll results I noticed that the poll breaks down people into political affiliation, including 'fringe' groups, and it specifies the geographic location of the respondents. However when it comes to education or level of involvement in society the poll reports only if the person has a high-school education or not. I deem this important because many other polls conducted in 'western' countries have shown that people formally educated to high-school or less, feel the same way about COVID, government and media as do those with a PhD.
The Daily Mail, a British publication ran an article at the end of 2021 describing a much larger and more granular survey carried out by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh of more than five million US adults, with 10,000 reporting that they were educated to PhD level.
According to the publication, the report showed a surprising U-shaped correlation between willingness to get a COVID vax and education level - with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated.
See the cover picture to this blog post for the chart.
These and other findings from the Carnegie polling were not what the governments and medical authorities on either side of the pond wanted to see and the news outlet suggests that 'further investigation into hesitancy among those with a PhD is warranted'.
I have yet to see the results of that investigation but the raw data plays into the hands of those who believe that public education is focused more on teaching young people to trust 'authority' rather than think for themselves.
It is ironic that the ABACUS poll in attempting to establish the level of distrust in government and media is itself biased towards those same institutions. Summarizing their poll results, ABACUS uses the terms 'conspiracy theorists' and 'fringe minorities' when referring to Canadians which are terms most recently popularized by Justin Trudeau and echoed by most members of Canada's government.
Then there are the repeated verbal attacks by ABACUS on supporters of one particular political party, the Peoples Party of Canada, the leader of which is promising to gut much of the current government system. I may not be 100% pro-Bernier but if his party is the only one offering 'opposition' to the current government then what choice do I or Canadians have if we want transparency and accountability from those in power at the moment?
After all is said and done the ABACUS polling and analysis reveals more by what it does Not say than by what it does. Its methodology, questions and results are highly divisive, biased from the start, lack proper context and presume that 1/10 of 1% of the population represents the entire country. If nothing else the poll confirms the fears of our 'fringe minority' while showing the number of Canadians on the 'fringe' is rapidly approaching 20% of the population, and increasing every time someone in government opens their mouth or pays for a poll.
I doubt that Maxime Bernier instigated the poll but he should acknowledge the contribution ABACUS is making to his campaign against Canada's entrenched political establishment by giving him more press than I've seen in a while. There is no such thing as bad publicity.