News Dispatch

A quarter of Canadians are tuning out ‘too depressing’ political news: Poll

A man wears headphones to listen to music while walking the grounds at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre in Powell River, B.C. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press.

As Conservative leadership frontrunner Pierre Poilievre zig-zagged across the country this year, from community centres in Nova Scotia to hockey rinks in Alberta, there was at least one similarity in these disparate parts of the country: raucous chants of “defund the CBC” spontaneously erupting around the room.

Along with his promise to axe the CBC, Poilievre hasn’t shied away from criticizing other media outlets and even individual journalists.

But while many Canadians share Poilievre’s skepticism about the mainstream media, it’s not necessarily for ideological reasons, according to a recent poll produced by The Hub and Public Square Research and conducted with LEO, Leger’s online panel1Click the link to join the Leger Opinion online panel and get your voice heard in surveys like this..

In fact, most Canadians who are tuning out the news say they’re doing it because the sheer negativity is turning them off from politics.

One-fifth of Canadians engage with political news “throughout the day,” while a third of Canadians engage with it daily and 22 percent engage with it a few times a week.

About a quarter of Canadians are almost entirely disengaged from the news, though. Ten percent of Canadians actively avoid political news, five percent engage with politics only through conversations with friends and ten percent read the news a few times a month.

Fifty percent of the people who are disengaged say they are “tired of the negativity in politics” and 38 percent say the news is simply too depressing.

About a third of Canadians who have less interest in the news agree that they don’t know where to go to get the truth or that there is too much media bias. About 31 percent of Canadians who don’t watch the news say they just have too much going on in their life to find the time.

The poll also shows that only 26 percent of Canadians said they were concerned about the CBC’s status as the public broadcaster.

“The CBC is not an issue of concern for them,” said Heather Bastedo, who runs Public Square Research and produced the survey for The Hub. “The CBC is a little bit different. If you open up the debate about defunding them you do appear to look small because there is a romantic attachment to the CBC.”

The poll also finds a mismatch between the issues dominating the headlines and what Canadians are concerned about.

Only 16 percent of Canadians said they were concerned about the Pope’s visit to Canada and 35 percent said they were concerned about the backlog in immigration processing in Canada.

“The role of the news isn’t always to give people the news they want to hear,” said Bastedo. “But the media needs to make the connection to people’s lives with these stories. Most people aren’t flying out from Pearson, but the fact that the government can’t run things should be an issue.”

Thirty-four percent of Canadians said they were concerned about the long lineups at passport offices, while 21 percent said it doesn’t concern them at all, 18 percent said it’s not really a concern and 22 percent said it may affect them in the future.

The number one issue for Canadians right now is rising interest rates. Forty-five percent say they are very concerned about it, while 26 percent say they are concerned and 13 percent say it may affect them in the future.

The war in Ukraine is similarly pressing for Canadians. Forty percent of Canadians are very concerned and 35 percent are concerned, while nine percent say it may affect them in the future.

Younger Canadians are least likely to be highly engaged news consumers, with only 13 percent of people aged 18 to 34 reporting that they read the news throughout the day, compared to 27 percent of people over the age of 55.

Young people are less likely to be totally disengaged than people aged 35 to 54, though.

Among people under the age of 35, about 11 percent report having no interest in politics at all, compared to 14 percent of people aged 35 to 54. Younger people are also more likely to check in on the news when something big happens or to get informed via social media or by talking to friends.

The research involved an online omnibus survey of 1,520 people, which was fielded between July 29 and Aug. 2.

This survey was conducted with LEO, Leger’s online panel. If you want your voice to be heard, you can join the LEO panel today.

Sign up for FREE and receive The Hub’s weekly email newsletter.

You'll get our weekly newsletter featuring The Hub’s thought-provoking insights and analysis of Canadian policy issues and in-depth interviews with the world’s sharpest minds and thinkers.