Canadians Want the Truth, But Think Certain Lies Are Justified

Many residents of the country think it is permissible to lie to spare someone’s feelings (55%) or to protect a relationship (45%).

Vancouver, BC [March 22, 2023] – While three-in-four Canadians believe every person should always be truthful, there are certain moments when their testimony is less than sincere, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 74% of Canadians think people should always tell the truth, regardless of the consequences.

Just under two thirds of Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 2021 (65%) endorse the idea of people always being truthful, compared to 80% among those who cast ballots for the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party in the last federal election.

The survey asked Canadians if they think it is permissible to lie in five different circumstances. Only 16% of Canadians would consent to falsehood in order to impress people and boost their reputation, such as claiming they were primarily responsible for a project when they were not.

Just under three-in-ten Canadians (28%) believe it is justified to lie to be perceived in a positive light, such as claiming that they were late because there was an accident on the way to the office—a proportion that rises to 33% among those aged 18-to-34.

More than two-in-five Canadians (41%) think it is fine to rely on falsehoods to protect someone else, such as lying about the whereabouts of a child or a friend to help them avoid negative consequences.

Just under half of Canadians (45%) think it is permissible to lie in order to protect a relationship, such as withholding information that could cause anxiety or anger to a significant other.

There is a significant gender gap on this question. Practically half of men (49%) see no problem with fibbing in order to protect a relationship, compared to 40% among women.

More than half of Canadians (55%) believe lying to spare someone else’s feelings, such as not pointing out that clothes look bad on a person when they are asked, is justified.

Practically two thirds of Atlantic Canadians (65%) have no qualms about lying to spare someone’s feelings. The proportions are lower in Alberta (59%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (57%), British Columbia (56%), Ontario (53%) and Quebec (51%).

More than half of Canadians (56%) say there have been moments in their lives when they would have preferred to be told a lie instead of the truth.

“Canadians aged 18-to-34 are the most likely to have wished for falsehood instead of veracity at some point in their lives (63%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The proportions are lower among their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (55%) and aged 55 and over (51%).”

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from March 10 to March 12, 2023, among 1,000 Canadian adults. 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, nineteen times out of twenty.

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]