Canadians Back Inquiry, New Laws to Tackle Foreign Interference

Almost three-in-five Canadians think foreign governments have successfully influenced federal elections in this century.

Vancouver, BC [March 6, 2023] – Most Canadians believe it is time to both review the full extent of foreign interference in domestic democratic processes and establish a new set of guidelines to curb its influence, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, almost two thirds of Canadians (64%) support calling an independent inquiry into foreign interference on electoral processes in Canada, while 21% are opposed and 15% are undecided.

Support for an independent inquiry is highest among Canadians aged 55 and over (73%) and also encompasses majorities of Canadians aged 35-to-54 (61%) and aged 18-to-34 (59%).

A majority of Canadians (58%) say that, from what they have seen, read, heard or experienced, foreign governments have successfully influenced federal elections in Canada in this century—including 63% of British Columbians and 62% of Albertans.

Almost half of Canadians (49%) think foreign governments have targeted federal nomination contests. Fewer believe this type of interference has occurred in provincial elections (42%), provincial nomination contests (35%), municipal elections (33%) or municipal nomination contests (29%).

A third of Canadians (33%) think it is “very likely” that the Government of China has attempted to influence electoral processes in Canada in this century—a proportion that rises to 37% among British Columbians and to 45% among Canadians aged 55 and over.

More than one-in-five Canadians believe Russia (28%) and the United States (24%) are “very likely” to have attempted to influence electoral processes in Canada in this century. Fewer Canadians feel the same way about the United Kingdom (13%), France (10%) and Germany (9%).

The Government of Australia recently enacted a suite of laws designed to criminalize or comprehensively limit foreign interference efforts. These laws criminalize covert and deceptive or threatening activities by persons intending to interfere with Australia’s democratic systems and processes, or to support the intelligence activities of a foreign government.

More than seven-in-ten Canadians (72%) think the Government of Canada should introduce similar laws against foreign interference.

“Canadians of all political stripes believe the country should enact tougher laws to shield against foreign interference,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Sizeable majorities of Canadians who supported the Liberals (80%), the New Democrats (75%) and the Conservatives (73%) in the 2021 federal election are in agreement.”

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from February 26 to February 28, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]