The Roles of Public Opinion Research in Canadian Government

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It is a common assumption that governments use public opinion research primarily to help them make popular decisions about major policy issues but few scholars have ever looked beyond this assumption to investigate its veracity. In The Roles of Public Opinion Research in Canadian Government, Christopher Page pulls back the curtain on the uses of polls and focus groups.

Stressing public opinion on policy rather than on support for parties, Page explores the relationships between government officials and pollsters, and the contributions of public opinion research to the policy process. Three high-profile policies are considered in depth: the patriation of the constitution and the establishment of the Charter of Rights by the Trudeau government, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax by the Mulroney government, and the controversial strengthening of gun control by the Chrétien government.

The Roles of Public Opinion Research in Canadian Government demonstrates that opinion research has a greater variety of roles than is often recognized, and that, despite conventional wisdom, its foremost impact is to help governments determine how to communicate with citizens. It is an essential contribution to the study of Canadian politics, filling a major gap in the scholarship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802093776
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Series: IPAC Series in Public Management and Governance Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Page is an instructor in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University.
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Table of Contents



  1. Public Opinion and Polling
  2. Public Opinion and Policy-making
  3. The Practice and Framework of Opinion Research for Government in Canada
  4. An Overview of the Uses of Opinion Research in the Policy Process
  5. Opinion Research and Government Communications
  6. Opinion Research and Constitutional Renewal, 1980–1
  7. Opinion Research and the Goods and Services Tax
  8. Opinion Research and Gun Control
  9. Constraints on the Use of Opinion Research in Government
  10. Conclusion

Appendix 1 Federal Government Poll on the Constitution

Appendices2.1–2.4 Polling on the Goods and Services Tax

Appendices 3.1–3.2 Polling on Gun Control

Appendix 4 Selected Interview Sources



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