What Canadians Think (about Almost Everything)

What Canadians Think (about Almost Everything)

by Darrell Bricker, John Wright

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-What percentage of Canadians would prefer a good night’s sleep to good sex?
-What percentage of Canadians mow the lawn wearing open-toed shoes?
-Which gender is more likely to be left standing at the altar?
-What percentage of Canadians supports labelling GMOs?
-What is the likelihood that a Canadian believes that “Satan, the devil, is active in the world today”?

Read through and find out. Funny, informative, and often surprising, What Canadians Think is based on hard statistics that add up to the inside story of what Canadians like, what we don’t like, what we believe, what we don’t believe, what we’re not sure of. You want to know who we are and what we’re becoming? Ask John Wright and Darrell Bricker of Ipsos-Reid. They’ve got all the numbers.

Focusing on the concentric worlds in which we live — home and work, community, nation, and world — Wright and Bricker, Canada’s leading pollsters, roll up their sleeves and get to work. These guys dig into relationships. They look at marriage and morals and drinking and drugs. They delve into power, politics, parenting, and internet porn. Sex and stress. Death and taxes.

No one knows Canada better than Ipsos-Reid, the country’s largest market research and public opinion firm, and this book puts their research at your fingertips. Both lighthearted and rigorously detailed, What Canadians Think is fascinating reading for anyone. Whether you’re a marketing executive, or just someone who’s curious about the nut case around the corner, you won’t put it down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780770430085
Publisher: Seal Books
Publication date: 06/28/2006
Pages: 384

About the Author

Darrell Bricker is President of North American Public Affairs for Ipsos-Reid. Prior to joining Ipsos-Reid Bricker was Director of Public Opinion Research in the Office of the Prime Minister. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Carleton University.

John Wright is a Senior Vice President for the Trends Division, Canadian Public Affairs, of Ipsos-Reid. He has been the lead media spokesperson for the company for the last fourteen years on politics, policy, and consumer trends, and hosts a weekly radio show on CFRB.

Read an Excerpt


It happens, inevitably, at every public, business or social event we go to.

Someone discovers that we work for Ipsos-Reid, and during the course of small talk they ask THE QUESTION: “So, what are you polling about today?”

Back when we began working at the Angus Reid Group, the predecessor to Ipsos-Reid, the company was small enough that you’d actually be able to sort through the topics in your head and pretty much (apart from proprietary work for clients) tell people the list. That was back when we were doing maybe $5 million in research a year and most thought we weren’t doing much more than conducting polls for the media on the topic of the day. Some still do.

And nothing could be farther than the truth.

In Canada this year Ipsos-Reid will conduct about $100 million worth of research on almost every dimension of Canadians’ opinions on just about every subject possible. Ninety-five percent of our business – truly the bread and butter of our industry – consists in exploring things like which kind of diaper a new mother would prefer, how many credit cards you have in your wallet, what new lottery game you prefer to play, which car you’d like to see made, what you’d like for lunch, or where you’d like to vacation. And because clients hire us to do the work, you rarely hear about it. Which is as it should be. That’s our job.

But it slowly dawned on us that each of our public media releases was like a dab of paint in an enormous life-sized portrait of Canada. So we thought we’d step back from the canvas to see what Canada looks like from that vantage,something we hadn’t previously done.

Until now. Here is the portrait. It’s a work in progress, of course. Opinions are always changing, and there is no way anyone could even dream of filling in every last detail of everything Canadians actually think. And we haven’t included all of the information we could have here. That would run to volumes and volumes. Instead we’ve chosen the best bits – the salient points, the telling facts, and the strange things we thought you’d want to know.

We ask about government policy and current issues; we ask about favourite t.v. shows, and drinking beer and going to the cottage; we ask about topless sunbathing and healthcare policy; we ask about raising kids and investing for retirement; we ask about fears and hopes and bad hair days.

So today, when someone asks THE QUESTION, there is really only one accurate answer: “What Canadians Think . . . About Almost Everything.”

We think (and we hope you agree) that all Canadians want to know what Canadians think. And while no Canadian is exactly like any other, when we begin to put one opinion beside another, then add another belief, and put that beside a preference or an aversion, and so on, and we let the numbers add up, after all the years we’ve been at this, we get a pretty good idea of what is on Canadians’ minds.

Now you can too.

If we’ve learned one thing from our years of prying into the minds of Canadians, it is that they’re a fascinating lot – mostly reasonable, usually congenial, sometimes exasperating, from time to time simply bizarre. (And we ought to know – we’re Canadian too.) Not a day goes by that we are not surprised by something we stumble across in our research, and I hope we never stop being surprised.

We are surprised by the strength of some replies. For example, when editorials, pundits and others were screeching that Canadians should saddle up with our friends across the border and join them in Iraq or else, and almost 7 in 10 told us they’d rather stay here, we think a finding like that shows that, right or wrong, Canadians are capable of thinking for themselves, even when the so-called experts are telling them something quite different. The same goes for other issues like labelling GMOs: we found that 90% of Canadians want to know when they’re buying and eating genetically modified food (and that goes for trans fat as well). Or what they want in their healthcare system – the Romanow Report was given public vindication with 82% support, despite being dumped on in many quarters of the country by political, media or special interests when it was released.

We are often surprised by regional variations. For example, a Manitoban is twice as likely as an Ontarian to oppose a ban on pellet guns. And which province is most likely to support the decriminalization of marijuana? You might feel justified in guessing British Columbia. But you would be wrong. The answer is Quebec. How about the province that feels most burdened by the tax man? You might guess Alberta this time. Nope. Quebec again.

We also see striking variations across all the demographic categories. Someone with a high school education is 50% more likely than someone with a university education to believe that decriminalized marijuana will lead to an increase in crime. A young Canadian is twice as likely as an older Canadian to invest monthly. A woman is twice as likely to floss than is a man. A woman is 50% more likely than a man to believe that high oil prices are a form of vengeance for the American invasion of Iraq. And so on.

Some of the stuff we come across is simply bizarre. In the course of a day’s work we may have to determine what percentage of Canadian men mow the lawn in open-toed shoes, or how many of us believe the devil has a hand in humanity’s day-to-day affairs, or the percentage of Canadians who would like to change their hair colour. In which province are women most likely to sunbathe topless? Read on and find out.

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