Three Quarters (73%) of Canadians Say Electoral Reform Shouldn’t Proceed Without National Referendum

Despite Campaign Promise and Majority Mandate, Just Four in Ten (43%) Agree It Gives the Government the Liberty to Change the Electoral System Despite Opposition

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Toronto, ON — Most Canadians believe that electoral reform should not proceed without a national referendum, and that the Liberal government’s campaign promises and majority mandate does not give them license to change the electoral system despite opposition, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News.

During the election campaign of 2015, Justin Trudeau promised that it would be the last federal election held under the first-past-the-post system. Now in government, the Liberals have said a referendum is not necessary given they ran on the promise of electoral reform and were elected with a majority government.

The results of the poll show that three quarters (73%) of Canadians ‘agree’ (37% strongly/36% somewhat) that ‘the Liberals should not make major changes to Canada’s election system without holding a national referendum to get the public’s approval for the changes’, while one quarter (27%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (8% strongly/19% somewhat). A majority of Canadians in every demographic group studied agree that a referendum should be held before changes are made, with agreement being highest in Alberta (80%) and lowest in Quebec (62%).

Moreover, a majority of Canadians disagree that the Liberals’ election promise and subsequent majority victory gives them the mandate to change the electoral system despite opposition. A majority (57%) ‘disagrees’ (24% strongly/32% somewhat) that ‘since the Liberal platform included a promise to change the election system, and they won a majority government, they should feel free to change the election system even if the other major parties disagree with the changes’. Four in ten (43%) ‘agree’ (10% strongly/33% somewhat) that the promise and election victory gives them the liberty to go ahead with the changes they’ve promised.

While 54% of Atlantic Canadians agree (the Liberals swept Atlantic Canada), fewer residents of Quebec (48%), Ontario (43%), British Columbia (40%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (39%) and Alberta (33%) believe the Liberals have a mandate to proceed with change, despite the resistance of the opposition parties.

This does not mean that Canadians don’t want change: in fact, half (52%) of Canadians ‘disagree’ (15% strongly/37% somewhat) that ‘Canada’s election system works fine as it is and that there’s no need to make major changes at the present time’, while the other half (48%) agree (16% strongly/32% somewhat) that the current system works well.

Those most likely to disagree that the current system works well (and therefore might support change) include residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (58%) and British Columbia (55%), while fewer in Ontario (52%), Alberta (51%), Atlantic Canada (50%) and Quebec (48%) feel this way.

In short, Canadians are divided on whether change is necessary, but there is an emerging consensus that change should be ratified by the Canadian people through a referendum.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 18 and 20, 2016, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,005 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President
Ipsos Public Affairs

About Ipsos in Canada

Ipsos is Canada’s market intelligence leader, the country’s leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos’ marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos in Canada is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

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Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

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Three Quarters (73%) of Canadians Say Electoral Reform Shouldn’t Proceed Without National Referendum


Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs