Monday, January 1, 2007

For most of us, it's been a good year

Shannon Proudfoot, CanWest News Service

Most Canadians feel 2006 was a good year and are looking ahead optimistically to 2007, a new poll shows.

The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted for CanWest News Service and Global National, shows 76% of Canadians think 2006 was a "good year overall" in comparison to years past, with 18% calling it a "very good year."

One in five (21%) felt this was a "bad year overall," with 6% giving it the thumbs-down as a "very bad year."

"It's had its flaws, it's had its difficulties, but overall, families are happy and optimistic, citizens are happy and optimistic," says John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid public affairs. "It's been a good year."

The poll was conducted by telephone from a sample of 1,000 adult Canadians between Dec. 12 and 14, and is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Looking ahead, most Canadians are feeling hopeful, with 88% predicting 2007 will be a good year for them, and for their families.

Most (78%) are confident 2007 will bring glad tidings for Canada, but the widespread optimism comes to a halt when they look beyond Canadian borders: 46% of those surveyed are pessimistic about the coming year for the world in general, while 49% are hopeful it will bring good news.

"There is a big world out there that is fit on the small screen every day, and it is troubling," Mr. Wright says.

Terrorism is "the great destabilizer," and 24-hour news reports bring that reality into people's homes more than ever before, he says, which might account for some of the concern about the world in 2007. But people are ultimately more influenced by the issues that hit closest to home, he adds, so with robust economic and employment figures, and another federal election the most serious instability on the Canadian horizon, life looks pretty rosy in the new year.

Albertans and Atlantic Canadians were among the happiest, with 87% and 83% of them, respectively, describing 2006 as a good year.

Quebecers were least enthusiastic, with 28% of them describing the year as a bad one, followed by British Columbians at 22%.

The ongoing oil windfall in Alberta, Quebec's frustrations with the federal government and the mission in Afghanistan, and B.C.'s recent storms may help explain some of those sentiments, Mr. Wright says.