The global image of the U.S.A. is at a historic low, with Canadians — as well as a majority of people across the 25 countries surveyed — expressing little confidence in U.S. President Donald Trump, a new Pew Research Center study has found.
Only 25 per cent of the 1,056 Canadians surveyed said they had confidence in President Trump, a figure that’s close to the international average of 27 per cent garnered from over 26,000 respondents in Pew’s Spring 2018 Global Attitudes Survey.
Large majorities of respondents across the countries surveyed expressed concerns about America’s role in world affairs, with significant majorities saying the U.S. is slipping when it comes to helping solve global challenges, and isn’t taking into account other countries’ interests when making foreign policy decisions.
In Canada, favourability towards the U.S. has hit its lowest point (39 per cent) since the Pew Research Center began polling in this country 16 years ago.
A comparison with numbers from Obama-era polling illustrates just how far America’s stock has fallen — 65 per cent of Canadians had expressed a favourable view of the U.S. at the end of Barack Obama’s tenure as president in 2016, but that dropped to 43 per cent last year and 39 per cent in this year’s survey.
It’s a pattern that’s consistent with the vast majority of 25 countries surveyed. Only three countries expressed a more positive view of Trump’s U.S.A. compared to Obama’s U.S.A., namely Russia, Kenya and Israel.
Indeed, Israel stood out as a beacon of support for Trump in a sea of disapproval.
Confidence in Trump has risen from 56 per cent last year to 69 per cent in Israel in 2018, a year in which his administration took the step of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and angering Palestinians in the process.
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Trump’s 69 per cent approval rating in Israel was substantially higher than that received by Obama (49 per cent) in 2015, the penultimate year of his presidency and a year marked by tense U.S.-Israel relations amid disagreements over the Iran nuclear deal.
At the other end of the scale is Mexico, where only six per cent expressed confidence in Trump, and 66 per cent said relations with the U.S. have worsened over the past 12 months
The U.S. president has angered many in his country’s southern neighbour due to his disparaging comments of Mexicans during his presidential campaign, his insistence on a U.S.-Mexico border wall and his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.
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The survey didn’t merely look into global attitudes towards Trump, however, and also offered respondents the opportunity to rate four other prominent world leaders, namely Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Trump was only able to garner a worldwide approval rating of 27 per cent, the lowest of the pack. Merkel received the most confidence from respondents at 52 per cent.
Canadians’ confidence in Trump’s handling of world affairs stood at 25 per cent, identical to their level of confidence in Putin. Germany’s Merkel inspired the most confidence in Canadians (68 per cent) among the five leaders.
The findings were at odds with Trump’s remarks to a convention of electrical workers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, in which he said the U.S. is respected now more than at any other time in recent history.
“This is really an incredible time for our nation. We are respected again,” Trump said. “We are respected again like we haven’t been respected in many, many decades.”
But while the Pew survey found confidence in Trump to be at a premium, most respondents worldwide said they’d still prefer to live in a world dominated by the U.S.A. rather than China.
Respondents in 22 out of the 25 countries said they’d prefer American hegemony to Chinese, with the only exceptions being Russia, Argentina and Tunisia. Seventy-one per cent of Canadians opted for the U.S. over China.
Canadians’ wariness of Chinese global dominance was found to be heavily correlated with their negative perceptions of Beijing’s human rights record — 80 per cent of Canadians said China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, that concern accounting for around 80 per cent of the disapproval of Chinese predominance.
Canadians also expressed concern over respect for individual liberty in the U.S., however, with only 38 per cent saying the U.S. respects individual freedom, compared to 75 per cent five years ago.
Another Canadian complaint towards the U.S. was that our southern neighbour doesn’t take Canada’s interests into account when making foreign policy decisions, with 82 per cent of Canadians holding this view.
The Canadian responses were collected between May 23 and June 21, a period during which U.S.-Canadian relations hit a low ebb as a result of the Trump administration’s tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, subsequent Canadian counter-measures, and a very public falling-out between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit in Quebec.
Asked to rate the direction of U.S.-Canadian relations, 66 per cent of Canadians say it has gone south in the last year, with only 4 per cent saying it has gotten better and 28 per cent saying it has stayed about the same.
Canadian assessments of Trump were found to vary along party lines. Forty-four per cent of Conservative Party supporters expressed confidence in Trump, compared to 17 per cent of NDP supporters and 10 per cent of Liberals.