American Election: Most Canadians say Trump victory will hurt their country’s relationship with the U.S.

American Election: Most Canadians say Trump victory will hurt their country’s relationship with the U.S.

Notable gender differences drive Canadian assessments of the campaign and US electorate


November 11, 2016 – Canadians are expressing concern that Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election may signal the start of a less-fruitful chapter in the history of Canada-U.S. relations, according to a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute.

Almost two-thirds of Canadians (62%) say they are upset with the outcome of Tuesday’s election, including nearly half (45%) who are “very upset.” Similarly, some seven-in-ten (69%) agree with the statement “I’m shocked that Trump won”.

Among the drivers of this sentiment, the sense that a Trump administration will be bad for Canada’s relationship with its most important trading partner.

Most say Trump will have a negative impact on the two countries’ overall relations, while just one-in-ten say he will be a positive force in this regard.

Even greater numbers say Trump will be bad for trade between Canada and the U.S., specifically.

Key Findings: usreactionmetho

  • More than half of Canadians (52%) think Trump will have a “negative impact” on their country’s overall relationship with the U.S., four times as many as say he will have a positive effect (12%)
  • Most (57%) think Trump’s victory will harm Canada’s trade relationship with the states, and an even greater number (67%) think it will harm “America’s standing in the world”
  • Women and Canadians under age 35 are especially frustrated with the election outcome

Most Canadians ‘upset’ by Trump victory

Canadians are anything but mixed in their reaction to the result of the U.S. election. Three-in-five (62%) view the outcome negatively, and nearly half (45%) say they are “very upset” about the Republican nominee’s triumph, more than twice as many as register any other reaction to the results.

Roughly one-in-five say they feel “neutral” about Trump’s victory (20%), or are pleased at this result (18%).

“Upset” is the most common reaction to the results across all regions, ages, and genders in Canada, but women and young people are especially likely to feel this way. Seven-in-ten in each of these groups say they are upset with the election results, as seen in the graph that follows:


For his part, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been diplomatic in his response to the election results, promising to work with the president-elect to “move forward in a positive way.”

The Canadian voters who brought Trudeau to power last year, however, are considerably less sunny about the next U.S. president.

Those who voted for Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2015 election overwhelmingly say they are “upset” about Trump’s victory. Indeed, most Liberal voters (55%) are “very upset” about the election results.

Among those who voted for the Conservative Party of Canada last year – the verdict is essentially split.

Some 39 per cent of 2015 CPC voters echo leadership candidate Kellie Leitch in saying they are pleased with the election results, while almost as many (36%) are upset:


Canadians assess the campaign and the US electorate

There are also significant age and gender differences on a pair of statements related to Canadians’ beliefs about the forces in American society that have delivered Trump to the White House.

Overall, Canadians are split over whether they can empathize with Trump voters, and on whether sexism played a significant role in Hillary Clinton’s defeat. A narrow majority of Canadians (55%) disagree with the statement “I understand why so many Americans voted for Donald Trump,” while an even narrower majority (52%) agree that “sexism in society is a significant reason” for Clinton’s loss.

That said, men and women view these two statements very differently, with men 20 percentage points more likely than women to say they can empathize with Trump voters, and women significantly more convinced of sexism’s role in the election outcome:


Younger respondents also differ from other age groups in their views on these two statements. Millennials express stronger agreement with the idea that sexism played a significant part in Clinton’s loss, and stronger disagreement with the notion of understanding why people voted for Trump (see comprehensive tables for greater detail).

How will Trump affect the Canada-U.S. relationship?

There is no international relationship as important to Canada on an economic and cultural level as that with the United States. For this reason, Trump now plays a large role in the lives of Canadians. The president-elect ran a campaign promising to kill the Trans-Pacific-Partnership and re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, both of which directly affect Canadian consumers and producers.

Earlier this year, the Angus Reid Institute found that a majority of Canadians favour some sort of modification of NAFTA, either an expansion or a renegotiation. On the TPP, the positions of both the public and the government regarding have been largely defined by uncertainty.
Overall, Canadians view a Trump presidency’s effects on North American trade with pessimism. Just one-in-ten (11%) say the election result will have a positive effect on U.S.-Canada trade, while more than half (57%) say the impact is going to be negative.


This sentiment is consistent across the country, with British Columbia most negative. Negotiators in B.C. were unable to secure a new trade deal for softwood lumber before the election and will now have to negotiate with a potentially much more protectionist administration.

Residents are most positive – though still in low numbers – in Alberta. Trump promised to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline if elected, a move that could benefit the province’s economy, but would potentially leave premier Rachel Notley in a difficult position, given her government’s focus on climate change.


Despite the Prime Minister’s statement of optimism about the new U.S. administration, Canadians are more likely to expect their country’s overall relationship with the states to sour. Much of this may owe to Canadian’s affection for outgoing president Barack Obama, and his well-publicized friendship with Justin Trudeau.

When asked to consider how a Trump presidency will affect the Canada-U.S. relationship overall, a majority still say that over the next four years Trump will have a negative effect, with women and millennials voicing the highest levels of pessimism:


America’s place in the world

Despite widespread protests across the U.S. in response to Tuesday’s election results, world leaders have chimed in with largely positive reactions. Certainly, the United States still holds a place of immense geopolitical power, though Canadians expect the strength of many of its relationships to wane over the next four years.

Trump himself has offered a number of forecasts on what international affairs will look like during his administration. He has stated a desire to strengthen the US relationship with Russia, pull out of a nuclear deal with Iran and get tough on China. Members of the European Union have met the election result with concerns about what it will mean for the West in economic and security terms.

For their part, two-thirds of Canadians (67%) say the next four years will have a negative effect on America’s place in the world:


Canadians skeptical of US political systems

In previous Angus Reid Institute polling, conducted before the election, three-in-four Americans (75%) said the process had been “really damaging to America,” and fewer than half (49%) agreed with the notion that “American democracy is alive and well.”

Canadians feel largely the same way about this election and its effects on the U.S. system. This latest survey shows seven-in-ten (71%) view the election as really damaging, and only 47 per cent say democracy in the U.S. is alive and well.

This sense that the U.S. system is damaged may be responsible for the feeling of superiority many Canadians report in this poll. Almost two-in-three (63%) agree with the statement “this election is proof that Canada has a better political system than the U.S.”

Notably, 2015 Conservative voters – whose party finds itself out of power in Ottawa – are considerably less favourable toward the idea that Canada has a better system. They are also less likely to believe the 2016 cycle was damaging to the United States, and more likely to believe American democracy is alive and well, as seen in the following graph:



The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research organization established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

Click here for the full report including tables, sample size and methodology

Click here for comprehensive data tables

Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693

Ian Holliday, Research Associate: 604.442.3312