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Canadians’ view of U.S. drops to lowest level in nearly 2 decades: poll

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Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic have dragged Canadians’ view of the United States to its lowest level in nearly 20 years, a new poll suggests.

The Pew Research Center report released Tuesday finds a favourable view of the U.S. among only 35 per cent of Canadians surveyed, the lowest level recorded since Pew began polling north of the Canada-U.S. border in 2002.

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“Like all countries surveyed this year, Canada’s favourable rating of the U.S. dropped sharply in 2017 as confidence in the U.S. president plummeted,” the centre said in a release.

“In the more than three years since Trump first took office, views have slowly shifted, but 2020 sees the lowest ratings for the U.S. in Canada since Pew Research Center began polling there almost two decades ago.”

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The finding tracks an identical trend among all 13 countries involved in the poll — record lows were also recorded in the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and Australia.

Only 20 per cent of the poll’s 1,037 Canadian respondents expressed confidence in Trump himself, the lowest presidential rating Pew has ever recorded in Canada and a precipitous drop from the 83 per cent support for Barack Obama they found in 2016.

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Driving the negative numbers is Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was panned in every country surveyed including Canada, where it gets a passing grade from only 16 per cent of those surveyed.

“In no country surveyed do more than a fifth think the U.S. has done at least a somewhat good job dealing with the virus, and a median of only 15 per cent across the 13 countries polled consider the country’s handling of the virus to be effective,” the centre said.

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Out of the 83 per cent of Canadian participants unimpressed with the U.S. response, 57 per cent rated it as “very bad” and 26 per cent as “somewhat bad.”

“In every country surveyed, roughly eight-in-ten or more say the U.S. has handled the virus badly. And, in 11 of the 13 countries surveyed, half or more say the U.S. has done a very bad job dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.”

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The Canadian portion of the poll was conducted by telephone between June 15 and July 27, and carries a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Pew acknowledged in the survey that the racial tensions and public fury over the police killing of George Floyd, whose death in May on a Minneapolis street with an officer’s knee on his neck triggered a tidal wave of outrage that washed over the world throughout the summer, could have affected the results as well.

The centre conducted a separate survey on 2020’s global reckoning on race during the same period it was gathering data on international impressions of the United States. That study examined how Black Lives Matter was reflected in the social media feeds of lawmakers and legislators in four countries, including Canada.

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About 44 per cent of Canadian members of Parliament tweeted references to Floyd and Black Lives Matter during the period of the latest survey was conducted, the centre said.

“Concerns about racial injustice fit into a broader pattern of decline in the belief that the U.S. government respects the personal freedoms of its people.”