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Most Canadians feel $500M for Canada 150 is too much

Governor General David Johnston, left to right, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau dance during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.
Governor General David Johnston, left to right, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau dance during Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Seventy per cent of Canadians feel that Ottawa is spending too much money on Canada 150 festivities, according to a new poll from Ipsos Public Affairs.

Last month, Global News reported that the total bill to mark the 150th year since Confederation is hovering around half-a-billion dollars, not including security for major events and some promotional items like flags.

Of that total, $200 million is being spent on special events and projects across the country, and another $300 million is being used to improve community infrastructure — investments that will last beyond 2017.

According to the Ipsos survey, conducted in mid-May, 29 per cent of respondents felt the total amount of money being spent was about right. A tiny minority, just one per cent, felt the government should be spending more.

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“There’s a lot you can do with $500 million,” said Sean Simpson, vice-president at Ipsos.

“There will be longer-term benefits that aren’t just fireworks that will be over in 15 minutes … but the knee-jerk reaction to the price tag is for the $500 million, seven in 10 Canadians need some convincing that that’s an appropriate amount to celebrate.”

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Simpson added that the celebrations are far from over, “so if it’s a great bash, it may be worth the price.”

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Canadians aren’t too enthused in general about the anniversary. While half of the poll respondents (51 per cent) said there’s no better time than now to celebrate our country, that excitement is muted compared to how Canadians felt about the country’s 125th anniversary back in 1992. In fact, it’s down 21 points.

Canada was in the throes of referendum questions involving Quebec at the time, Simpson noted, making the lack of enthusiasm in 2017 even more notable.

“We now have a more cohesive country, heading into 150 over 125, but a lot of people are shrugging their shoulders saying it’s not important either way, led by men and baby boomers.”

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About 27 per cent of respondents told Ipsos that celebrating Canada 150 is “not important either way” and 15 per cent said that there’s little cause for celebration. The remaining eight per cent were unsure how they felt about the milestone.

“It feels like we’ve been celebrating for six months,” Simpson said. “The hype has been sustained for so long that we may be disappointed by the climax.”

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For this survey, a sample of 1,004 Canadians from the Ipsos I-Say panel was interviewed from May 19 to May 23, 2017. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects the overall population according to census information. The results are accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadian adults been polled. 

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