Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canadians say trade deal is good for consumers, uncertain of impact on jobs, the economy

Trans-Pacific Partnership: Canadians say trade deal is good for consumers, uncertain of impact on jobs, the economy

Canadian opinion dominated by uncertainty as full text of twelve-country agreement still under wraps

October 22, 2015 – The Trans-Pacific Partnership – the 12-country trade agreement betweenshachi kurl nations along the Pacific Rim – will be among the first major foreign and economic policy issues Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau must stick-handle.

Although the full text of the pact has yet to be released, Canadians are already forming opinions about the agreement: while they see benefits for consumers and the economy at large, they are split on the value of the deal when it comes to jobs and employment.

These are among the findings of a recent Angus Reid Institute poll on the TPP, which shows that –despite higher support than opposition to the deal – uncertainty and lack of knowledge dominate emerging opinions about the impacts it might have.

Key Findings:

  • Canadians are nearly four times as likely to say joining the TPP would have a positive impact on consumer choices, and are twice as likely to say the TPP will be good for the economy as bad
  • On the question of jobs in their own communities however, Canadians are split on the benefits of the TPP
  • Overall support for Canada joining the trade pact is higher than opposition (35% versus 21%), but “don’t know/can’t say” remains the most common answer (44%)

Without details, uncertainty clouds opinion on on TPP:

While support for Canada joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership has declined and opposition has risen since ARI first asked about the deal in April, there has been little change in the number of Canadians reporting uncertainty about the deal over the same period of time:

angus reid institute

This is unsurprising, as the text of the agreement, promised by now-outgoing trade minister Ed Fast to be released prior to the Oct. 19 federal election, remains under wraps.

How would joining the TPP affect Canada?

During the campaign, both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair criticized Stephen Harper for a lack of transparency in negotiating the TPP. If Canadians don’t know what’s in the deal, the opposition leaders argued, how can they have an informed opinion about it?

This ARI survey does find a high level of uncertainty around the potential effects of Canada joining the TPP, but it also finds that most Canadians have some idea of the impact the deal would have on their country.

The big benefit of the TPP in the eyes of Canadians is in consumer choices. More than two-in-five Canadians (42%) believe the partnership will have a positive impact on this:


Canadians also bullish, although slightly less so, about the TPP’s impact on their country’s economy as a whole. Those who see a positive impact are still nearly two-in-five (39%), but a notable segment say the pact will hurt the economy (21%). A minority (10%) told ARI it would have no impact:

angus reid institute

On employment and jobs in their community, Canadians are much less optimistic about the effect of joining the TPP. Roughly one-in-five think the deal will have a positive impact on this aspect of the economy (21%), while slightly more (25%) foresee a negative impact. There is also a large number who think the deal will have no impact on jobs and employment:

trans pacific partnership

Did the TPP impact the election campaign?

While the party leaders each spoke about the Trans-Pacific Partnership at the debates and on the campaign trail, data from this ARI study suggests that if the deal had any effect on the election, it was to further sour voters’ opinions on the parties that did not win.

Asked whether the TPP issue made them feel more positively or more negatively about each of the three major parties, majorities of respondents opted for neither, saying it made them feel “just the same.”

Among those who did say the issue moved the needle for them, larger numbers indicated it made them feel more negatively about each party than more positively:

angus reid institute poll

In this context, Trudeau and the Liberals came out looking the best, as the difference between those who said the TPP made them feel more positive about the party (11%) and those who said it made them feel more negative (15%), was smallest for the LPC.

This difference was largest for the NDP, the only party that came out against the TPP during the campaign. Just eight per cent of respondents said they felt more positively about the New Democrats because of the trade deal, while fully one-quarter (25%) said it made them feel worse.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

Shachi Kurl, Senior Vice President: 604.908.1693


Tags assigned to this article:
Canadian EconomyInternational TradeTPPTrade

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