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Canadians ambivalent about “New NAFTA”, feeling bruised by U.S.

Three weeks after the announcement that Canada, the United States and Mexico had reached a three-way trade deal to “replace” the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadians are feeling significantly less euphoric about the pact than the government officials who negotiated it.

Indeed, the latest public opinion poll from the Angus Reid Institute reveals more say they are “disappointed” than pleased with the new agreement, a sentiment that is driven along political lines – although a significant number of past Liberal Party voters also take a negative view of the deal.

Against this backdrop, fully half are of the view that Canada’s negotiating team dealt with their American counterparts “too softly” and gave up too much to secure the pact, while just one-third feel the agreement reached was “better than nothing”.

But if Canadians are unhappy with their own leaders in these negotiations, they are similarly infuriated with the U.S. This survey finds Canadians feeling more negatively about their ally, neighbour, and largest trading partner than they have been in some 40 years.

More Key Findings:

  • Roughly half (49%) of Canadians say they have a “very favourable” or “mostly favourable” view of the United States. That’s a significant drop from the 62 per cent who expressed such a view in June 2016, and the lowest favourability rating the U.S. has received from Canadians since 1980
  • One-in-three Canadians (35%) feel the USMCA is better than “no deal at all,” while similar numbers feel the new agreement is worse than (34%) or about the same as (31%) if negotiations had collapsed completely
  • Overall, Canadians are about equally likely to be pleased (43%) or disappointed (41%) with the performance of their country’s negotiators. Reviews are more negative for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s performance on the file (37% pleased; 52% disappointed)

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