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Canada: Canadians Eye North American Union

A recent survey conducted by a leading poll-taker shows that nearly half of Canadians believe there will be a union between Canada and the United States within a decade. Our correspondent in Ottawa, Carol MacIvor, reports.

Ottawa, 7 June 2001 (RFE/RL) -- A public opinion survey of Canadians by one of the country's most prominent polling organizations has turned up a surprising result: nearly half of Canadians (48 percent) believe that a union between Canada and the United States is "inevitable" -- and they believe it will happen within the next 10 years.

However, while 43 percent of Canadians believe that becoming part of the U.S. would be an economic boost, they also want to maintain Canada's social, political, and cultural identity.

Ekos Research Associates conducted the survey -- and has done similar polling for three decades. The company says the latest one reveals "a new, post-modern cosmopolitan" Canada which likes changes, has no strong political affiliations, distrusts politicians, and wants more government in day-to-day life.

About 66 percent of Canadians surveyed think "change" was a good thing and 71 percent believe the country "needs to change." As well, the majority of Canadians think globalization and technology have left the country "better off" than a decade ago. In terms of tolerance, the poll shows Canadians are not as socially conservative as they were 10 years ago, with only 30 percent of respondents saying Canada allows in too many immigrants -- compared to 53 percent in 1994.

The survey also shows that Canadians want government to increase spending and involvement in the country's socialized health care system, as well as in education and environmental matters. Trust in politicians is at a 30-year low with only 13 percent of Canadians saying they believe government acts in the public interest.