TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians are bubbling over with optimism for 2008, although they are somewhat sobered by prospects for the rest of the world and the environment, according to a new poll.
Wrapping up a banner economic year that even shocked analysts, Canadians watched their dollar soar to record-breaking heights while enjoying lower taxes and a falling unemployment rate.
“It’s been a great year for Canada,” John Wright, senior vice-president at Ipsos-Reid, which conducted the poll, told Reuters on Monday.
“They’re pretty optimistic about next year. There doesn’t seem to be anything which is causing Canadians angst.”
The poll says more than nine in 10 Canadians (92 percent) expect 2008 to be a good year for them personally, up from 88 percent the year before.
The survey also found 90 percent said the new year will be good for their families, up 2 percentage points from 2007.
About 80 percent of those polled said 2007 was “a good year” compared to other years, up from 76 percent last year.
And 81 percent say 2008 will be a good year for Canada, up 3 points.
“It doesn’t get much better in a country where people see overall improvements,” said Wright.
Only 58 percent of those surveyed feel 2008 will be good for the planet as a whole but that is up from 49 percent.
Wright said that while the poll was conducted prior to the assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Canadians are indeed concerned about tensions and fighting in the Middle East as well as other parts of the world. And 52 percent of those surveyed support the country’s military role in Afghanistan, Wright said.
“We’re in a part of the world that seems largely unaffected by a lot of the things other countries are experiencing,” he said. “There just isn’t the same kind of strife and economic woes that there are in other places in the world. And that’s not just opinion, that’s factual.”
Wright said Canada has experienced unparalleled growth in every quarter and although the currency’s rapid rise hurt some parts of the manufacturing sector, it has caused a boom for consumerism and travel.
He said Canada has escaped the subprime mortgage crisis and housing market slide that has hit the United States.
However, Canadians are feeling “really pessimistic” about the environment, he said, even though, per capita, they have one of the largest greenhouse gas footprints.
“The environment is certainly a concern and continues to be a source of frustration because Canadians don’t have a lot of hope that they can do a lot to change the world at the moment,” Wright said.
Conducted December 18 to 20, the poll was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults. Results are considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Editing by Rob Wilson