How closely do Canadians follow issues in the news?

by David Korzinski | June 27, 2018 11:47 am

For more than three years, the Angus Reid Institute has been asking Canadians some variation of the same question about the issues of the day: “How closely are you following this issue?”

The response categories have been tweaked over the years, but the gist of the scale remains consistent. At the top, respondents indicate seeing a lot of media coverage of a story and a level of interest that leads them to discuss it with friends or family members. At the bottom, respondents indicate a near-total lack of awareness of the issue, saying they’ve seen no coverage or don’t know anything about the story.

In between, the scale draws a distinction between respondents who saw some coverage and had the odd conversation about an issue, and those who only saw headlines and remained largely disengaged.

The sortable table that follows contains data from every time the Angus Reid Institute has asked this question, with a link to our report on the survey in question.

Clicking through the table yields some interesting patterns.

The stories Canadians have paid closest attention to tend to be ones that dominated the international news cycle when they happened, such as the ISIS-sponsored terrorist attacks in Paris[1] in November 2015, or the early days of Donald Trump’s administration[2] in 2017.

Elections are also big attention-getters, with high numbers saying they were following the 2015 federal election[3] closely and discussing it with friends and family, and similar returns for a Metro Vancouver-only survey on the 2015 transit referendum[4] in that region.

At the other end of the scale – the stories Canadians are most likely to say they haven’t seen or heard anything about – are stories about specific events that might be considered niche in scope: A CRTC decision[5] declining to force large telecommunications companies to lease network capacity to “Mobile Virtual Network Operators,” a decision by the Ontario provincial government[6] to issue gender-neutral birth certificates upon request, and news that the Trudeau government had considered[7] – and ultimately decided against – privatizing the country’s eight largest airports.

  1. terrorist attacks in Paris:
  2. early days of Donald Trump’s administration:
  3. 2015 federal election:
  4. transit referendum:
  5. A CRTC decision:
  6. a decision by the Ontario provincial government:
  7. had considered:
  8. Ukraine-Russia Conflict Begins:
  9. Afghanistan Evacuation:
  10. Payette Resigns:
  11. We Charity Scandal:
  12. COVID-19 Breakout:
  13. Prince Harry and Meghan:
  14. China-Canada Relations:
  15. Brexit:
  16. 43rd General Election:
  17. Money Laundering:
  18. Indigenous Sports Team Names:
  19. New Canada Food Guide:
  20. SNC-Lavalin:
  21. Vaccines:
  22. China-Canada Relations:
  23. Saudi Arms Deal:
  24. USMCA:
  25. Julie Payette:
  26. Aeroplan:
  27. Marijuana legalization:
  28. John A. Macdonald:
  29. Trade, Trump, and Tariffs:
  30. Illegal border crossings-3:
  31. Greyhound:
  32. Mali Peacekeeping Mission:
  33. Trudeau Alleged Groping:
  34. NAFTA:
  35. Attestation:
  36. TransMountain pipeline:
  37. DACA:
  38. Net Neutrality:
  39. Colten Boushie verdict:
  40. Alberta/B.C. pipeline battle:
  41. Discussions of sexual harassment at the workplace/#metoo:
  42. Opioid crisis:
  43. Discussions about marijuana legalization in your province:
  44. Rohingya crisis in Myanmar:
  45. Quebec Bill 62 debate:
  46. North Korea tensions:
  47. NDP Leadership race:
  48. NAFTA negotiations:
  49. Small business tax changes (small business owners only):
  50. Illegal border crossings - 2:
  51. Ontario decision to issue gender neutral birth certificates:
  52. CPC Leadership race:
  53. Government considering privatizing airports:
  54. Marijuana legalization news:
  55. Illegal border crossings - 1:
  56. The first few months of the Trump administration:
  57. Refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war:
  58. Siege of Aleppo:
  59. Refugee Crisis:
  60. The legalization of physician-assisted dying:
  61. Government plans to legalize marijuana:
  62. Policies related to treatment of transgender people:
  63. Efforts to reform the Canadian electoral system:
  64. Rio Olympics Russian doping:
  65. Rio Olympics health concerns:
  66. BC Foreign Buyers tax (Vancouver only):
  67. Visa vs. Walmart:
  68. CPP Expansion:
  69. MTS merger with Bell (Manitoba only):
  70. Zika virus:
  71. Bans on Corporate/Union donations to political parties:
  72. Parties paying their leaders salary 'top-ups':
  73. Mike Duffy acquittal:
  74. Decline of newspapers:
  75. CRTC decision on Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs):
  76. Opposition to Energy East:
  77. Paris Attacks:
  78. Federal Election 3:
  79. Federal Election 2:
  80. Federal Election 1:
  81. European migrant Crisis:
  82. Duffy Trial:
  83. Thaw in U.S./Cuba relations:
  84. Greece potentially exiting the Eurozone:
  85. Truth and Reconciliation Commission report:
  86. FIFA Corruption Scandal:
  87. Translink Referendum – round 2 (Vancouver only):
  88. Bill C-51 – round 2:
  89. Omar Khadr Release:
  90. Prayer at public meetings:
  91. Senate expenses scandal:
  92. Translink Referendum – round 1 (Vancouver only):
  93. Childhood Vaccinations:
  94. Bill C-51 – round 1:

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