What Canadians Think About Almost Everything


273 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 0-385-65985-7
DDC 971.07





Reviewed by Geoffrey Hayes

Geoff Hayes is an associate professor of History and the Director of
International Studies Option at the University of Waterloo.


Since the Gallup poll came to Canada in the early 1940s, both business
people and politicians have come to depend increasingly on the
information gleaned from public opinion polls. But only recently have
pollsters become celebrities in their own right. Darrell Bricker and
John Wright are both celebrity pollsters, regularly commenting on
television and radio on trends in Canada. Their collection of polling is
intended to tell us “what Canadians think.”

In 17 chapters that include Canadians’ views on such issues as crime
and punishment, the workplace, the Internet, and Canadiana, the authors
provide a wide-ranging snapshot of trends and contradictions, of
stereotypes affirmed and stereotypes shattered. We learn, for example,
that almost half of Canadians (or of those polled) “think that our
constitutional monarchy is outmoded.” Yet 79 percent “support our
current system of government.” There is a certain amount of “royal
confusion” on such matters.

Indeed, Canadians seem a rather confused bunch on any number of issues
like religion, health care, and the history of Canada. We find that
millionaires are underrepresented in the Atlantic provinces, and that 40
percent of Canadians think that “barbecue season never ends.” No
doubt this latter result is important to barbecue manufacturers, but to
few others, I suspect. In this collection, however, the trivial holds
equal ground to the pressing issues of our time.

To a pollster, it seems that a question is a question. It doesn’t
matter if it concerns complex public-policy issues or a pair of jeans.
One might hope that Canadians give more thought to the former than the
latter, but we can’t tell from this collection. Indeed, confident that
the numbers speak for themselves, the pollsters offer little analysis on
the figures they present here. Given the number of topics on which they
polled Canadians, the authors might have concluded that Canadians have a
lot on their minds these days. No wonder that 40 percent of Canadians
“feel the world is changing too quickly.”


Bricker, Darrell, and John Wright., “What Canadians Think About Almost Everything,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16474.