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Are we buying it? We trust businesses way more than gov’t

Trust in the private sector has climbed while faith in government has fallen off considerably, Edelman, a PR firm, says.
Trust in the private sector has climbed while faith in government has fallen off considerably, Edelman, a PR firm, says. . The Canadian Press

Do you trust government? Do you trust business?

Which do you trust more?

Edelman, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, says Canadians place more trust in the private sector than any level of government, and by a considerable margin.

The drumbeat of scandal reverberating out from the federal Senate combined with the absurd (and potentially criminal, it is alleged) antics of the mayor of the country’s biggest city have sent trust in public office tumbling in the PR firm’s annual “Trust Barometer survey.

Fifty-one per cent of those surveyed said they trust government, down seven percentage points. Faith in the private sector meanwhile rose four points between last year and the current report – to 62 per cent.

READ MORE: Do you trust your politicians? Does it matter?

“The scandals have taken a toll,” John Clinton, head of Edelman Canada said in an interview. “Government has less good things to talk about now.”

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Esteem of government institutions has fallen dramatically as controversy has hammered away at the credibility Ottawa won by steering Canadians safely through a global economic meltdown, Clinton said.

WATCH: Conservative economic record comes under fire in the House of Commons Thursday

Interestingly, trust in business is relatively high but trust in private-sector leaders is low. Only 33 per cent said they trust corporate chief executives – a lower level of faith than what’s placed in government officials.

“They’re are at the bottom of the barrel,” Clinton said. “Trust in the institution is good but people believe the leadership isn’t performing very well.”

And that is likely putting it mildly. The figures in the Edelman survey are not exactly reflective of how the general population feels.

The results are based on responses from what Edelman calls an “informed” public; those with a college education and in the top 25 per cent of income earners for their age group. (200 were surveyed in Canada between October and November as part of a global look.)

“General population is generally much more negative in Canada and around the world than the informed [population]. The informed pop tends to look at both sides of the equation a little more,” Clinton said.
“So general pop looks at the headlines and goes, ‘Oh, [Toronto Mayor Rob] Ford’s a bad guy or the Senate are all bad guys.’ Informed pop is usually kinder and gentler than the general population,” he said.