Canadian opinions on world leaders: Putin “arrogant”, Obama “influential”, Merkel “strong”

Canadian opinions on world leaders: Putin “arrogant”, Obama “influential”, Merkel “strong”

Canadians have strong and decided views about a handful of world leaders, including their own – but most say they don’t know enough about many other prominent world leaders to offer an opinion.

These are the findings of the latest Angus Reid Global (ARG) survey of Canadian adults seeking to measure how Canadians view leaders of G7 nations, as well as those leading BRIC (Brazil, India, China) countries, and Russia.


Respondents were asked to select up to six words from a list of 24 descriptors to ascribe to the eleven world leaders. Twelve pairs of contradictory attributes were included as options (click below for detailed tables).

Vladimir Putin:

The words chosen most often to describe Russian President Vladimir Putin are:

  • Arrogant (54%)
  • Corrupt (52%)
  • Bully (52%)
  • Dishonest (45%)
  • Secretive (41%)

Angela Merkel:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is described by Canadians most often as:

  • Strong (33%)
  • Influential (33%)
  • Credible (26%)
  • Strategic (22%)
  • Courageous (16%)

Canadians aged 55+ say Merkel is “strong” two-to-one over those aged 18-34 (44% versus 21%).

David Cameron:

British Prime Minister David Cameron is described by Canadians as:

  • Influential (24%)
  • Credible (21%)
  • Strategic (19%)
  • Strong (16%)
  • Honest (14%)

Barack Obama:

The words chosen most to describe US President Barack Obama were:

  • Influential (46%)
  • Charismatic (43%)
  • Compassionate (33%)
  • Inspiring (32%)
  • Credible (29%)

Gender does drive some difference in Canadian opinion of Obama. For example, although a minority view, men describe him as “weak” four-to-one over women (18% versus 5%).

Stephen Harper:

Canadians appear to be less positive about their own prime minister than his American counterpart, describing Stephen Harper most often as:

  • Secretive (39%)
  • Arrogant (37%)
  • Dishonest (31%)
  • Strategic (26%)
  • Boring (26%)

The most often chosen positive attributes of Harper are:

  • Strategic (26%)
  • Strong (19%)
  • Influential (18%)
  • Credible (17%)
  • Honest (13%)

Awareness of World Leaders:

Notably, although Canadians have expressed to ARG in previous surveys a desire to pursue and maintain trade ties with Europe, Asia and South America, this does not correlate to familiarity with the leaders of these regions.

At least half of all respondents said they didn’t know who the leaders of the remaining countries were, with 51 per cent (including one-quarter of Quebecers) saying they weren’t familiar enough with French President Francois Hollande to offer an opinion about him.

Similarly, three-quarters said they didn’t know Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and Brazilian President Dilma Roussef. Seventy per cent were unfamiliar with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and 60 per cent did not know Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Respondents were shown photos and names of each leader, but not their job title or which country they represented.

Click here for full report including tables and methodology