Social Issues Have Major Influence on Canadian Voters, Survey Finds


Media coverage of political leaders’ faiths likely also affected 2019 federal election outcome 


November 28, 2019

OTTAWA, ON – Seven in 10 Canadians say a political party leader’s personal views on abortion and same-sex marriage would have a significant impact on their vote. That finding comes in a new survey by the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with think tank Cardus, just after October’s federal election. As for promises that leaders will keep their personal views out of the political realm, 41 percent of Canadians doubt those commitments, while 27 percent simply don’t believe them.

“There’s clear evidence that hot-button social issues were a factor in how Canadians voted in the 2019 federal election,” said Ray Pennings, Executive Vice President of Cardus. “However, they were a bigger factor in Quebec than in other parts of the country because Bloc Quebecois voters took the hardest line on those issues.”

Just 44 percent of Bloc voters considered it alright for a political leader to be privately pro-life, but not allow those views to influence policy, compared to at least half of Liberal and NDP voters who took that position. Conservative and Green voters were much warmer to the idea of being privately pro-life.

The survey also found that 55 percent of Canadians say political leaders’ personal beliefs and faith should be off-limits for the media. At the same time, almost 70 percent say they were aware of media coverage of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer being Catholic and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh being a Sikh. Awareness of media coverage of other party leaders’ faiths was much lower. Just more than half of those who saw, heard, or read about Scheer’s faith say it left them with a negative opinion of him, compared to just 24 percent who said the same of Singh.

“In a pluralistic country like Canada, we need to find ways to welcome different perspectives and opinions,” said Pennings. “We also need to regain familiarity with Canada’s various faiths so that we can engage with each other genuinely and respectfully.”

The full survey results are freely available online. To speak with someone from Cardus about the polling, please, contact Daniel Proussalidis at


Daniel Proussalidis
Cardus – Director of Communications
613-241-4500 x508


Cardus is a non-partisan think tank dedicated to clarifying and strengthening, through research and dialogue, the ways in which society's institutions can work together for the common good.