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With supply management a key sticking point, Canadians divided over its future

As news Mexico and the U.S. have largely resolved their trade differences is absorbed on this side of the border, Canadians are expressing more anxiety about what the breakthrough will mean for their own country.

And, as a new public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute reveals, they are deeply divided over supply management – the very issue President Donald Trump has indicated is the preventing the conclusion of Canada-U.S. NAFTA renegotiations.

Initially, more Canadians would like to see their government stand firm on supply management in negotiations with the U.S. (45 per cent) rather than see it end the system (31 per cent).

However, when presented with a situation in which Canadian farmers would be compensated for lost quota value and given assistance in adjusting to a post-supply-management market, a small but significant number of Canadians change their minds on this key question.

The net result is a near-even split, with 37 per cent of Canadians saying Canada should end supply management in order to secure a trade deal with the U.S., while 34 per cent say Canada should still stand firm in support of the system. The remaining three-in-ten (30 per cent) are unsure.

More Key Findings:

  • Canada’s largest dairy-producing provinces are divided on ending supply management as part of trade talks, with roughly one-in-three in Quebec (35%) and Ontario (34%) preferring to keep the program, and similar numbers preferring to end it (39% in Ontario; 32% in Quebec)
  • Political affiliation is a greater driver of opinion on this question, with more than half of past Conservative Party voters (56%) saying supply management should end, while past Liberal and New Democratic Party voters lean more toward keeping it (42% and 40% say this, respectively)
  • On another major source of contention – U.S. President Donald Trump’s threatened 25 per cent tariff on Canadian automobiles – roughly half of Canadians (48%) believe the President is serious and will find a way to follow through, while significantly fewer (28%) think he is bluffing

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