, 02.23.2023 01:43 PM

My latest: broken

Is Canada broken?

Most Canadians apparently think it is.

The political debate about whether the country is broken or not has been going on for a few weeks, now. On the one side is Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre, who says that it is – or, at least, that it “feels” broken.

On the other side is Liberal leader Justin Trudeau who says Canada isn’t broken at all.

Back in November, Poilievre told a press conference that “most everything in Canada is broken and Justin Trudeau carries a good deal of the blame.” A few days later, Trudeau responded, telling lobbyists and staffers at the annual Liberal holiday that “Canada is not broken.”

Then, after the Christmas break, and as the Tories were kicking off a two-day caucus retreat, Poilievre doubled down. Said he: “Everything feels broken.” Pause.“Oh — I just offended Justin Trudeau. He gets very angry when I talk about these problems.”

Trudeau was unmoved and unimpressed. In late January, the Prime Minister said: “Mr. Poilievre has no real solutions. He’s just trying to exploit people’s anger and concerns. When you twist the facts or make things up for political gain, that’s not responsible leadership.”

The punditocracy weighed in on one side or the other, as it always does. (This writer, for what it’s worth, opined that the country isn’t broken – its politics and politicians are.)

Inevitably, the pollsters decided to step in to name the winner of the debate.

And: it’s Pierre Poilievre – and it’s not close, either. Because most Canadians agree with him. To them, the country indeed feels broken.

The pollster Leger went first. They issued a survey last week, and it found that nearly 70 per cent of respondents – across Canada – agreed with the view that “Canada is broken.” A whopping 30 per cent even told Leger that they “strongly agreed” the country was broken.

Four per cent said they were happy. Thirty-seven per cent said they were only “somewhat happy.” And the majority – 50 per cent – said they were very or somewhat angry.

Abacus, another polling firm that tends to offer optimistic perspectives on the Trudeau government, got into the field. They asked 4,000 Canadians for their opinions on the “Canada is broken” argument. And, in the resulting poll released Thursday morning, they found that Leger got it right.

Abacus’ numbers spell big, big trouble for the sunny ways of the Trudeau regime. The Ottawa-based firm found that nearly 50 percent of Canadians are dissatisfied with Canada – and more than 20 per cent of them are “very dissatisfied.”

Out on the prairies, where Poilievre does well and Trudeau doesn’t, the dissatisfaction with the country was most pronounced – around 60 per cent in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But over in vote-rich Ontario, things aren’t going too swimmingly for Trudeau’s side of the debate, either: there, nearly 50 per cent aren’t happy at all.

What’s causing the unhappiness, the dissatisfaction, the “Canada is broken” sentiment? It varies from region to region, and demographic to demographic – which explains why Poilievre cleverly points to an array of issues as the source. Crime, cost of living, taxes, even airline travel woes: Poilievre now regularly offers up a laundry list of misery, and it gets heads nodding.

And not just older white and white-haired heads, either. The polls show that Poilievre – who remains unpopular with female and Quebec voters – is beating the even-more-unpopular Justin Trudeau because he is talking about the main issue Canadians outside of Ottawa are talking about.

Namely, that Canada is broken.

Because Canadians increasingly think it is.

[Kinsella was Jean Chrétien’s special assistant.]


  1. Martin Dixon says:

    The heads of the PDS types are going to explode.

  2. Peter Williams says:

    Justin Trudeau would like to remind all Canadians to use less hydrocarbons. Then he took off on yet another jet flight.

    If Justin was serious about climate change, shouldn’t he be flying on a solar powered dirigible?

  3. PJH says:

    Does Canada feel like it is broken to me?….No. I’m a senior with a decent pension, who has a modest, affordable roof over my head, my health, plenty of good food in my pantry, a few good friends, and enough money to go on the occasional cheap holiday. Life is, for me…..good.

    But for those young people struggling to make ends meet, I indeed see a Canada that is broken.
    Unless they are blessed with the ability to earn a six figure income, or a nice inheritance….a great majority will never be able to afford their own home.

    I see skyrocketing rents…..so much so that a banker friend who is near retirement, doesn’t dare move from his Vancouver apartment because if he was to move elsewhere, including to the suburbs of Vancouver, he would see his rent increase by at least $1200-$1500 a month for equivalent digs.

    I see far too many families needing food banks to ensure they have enough nutritious food.

    I see far too many people in my hometown wired on weed and meth trying to escape the daily hell their lives have become.

    I read of daily assaults on transit users in Vancouver, and Toronto…..something that just a few short years ago, was unheard of.

    I see my local rec centre and library having to have full time security guards because of out of control thefts and vandalism. Again, unheard of just a few short years ago.

    I suppose for M. Trudeau, living as he does, would not feel the country is “broken”.

    But ask many ordinary young people and seniors in my little town the same question, and you would get an unqualified yes.

  4. western view says:

    Is Canada broken?
    The Freedom Convoy inadvertently showcased the culmination of years of wedge politics that do nothing but divide Canadians into “for us or against us “ idiots. In the late summer of 2021, Mr. Kinsella pointed out that 80% of Canadians endorsed vaccine mandates and the Big Red Machine eagerly brought in the mandates on the eve of the election campaign. Great politics, but poor governance, especially when Trudeau doubled down and kept the mandates far longer than on the ground information warranted.
    To try to loop the above info a feeling of brokenness, when the uppity blue collar scary bearded types in diesel fume spewing rigs set out for Ottawa to complain, the politicians (including political types in charge of policing) defaulted to a ball of confusion. Pissing matches, communications failures, poor intelligence sharing. And then there was Trudeau, whose wedge politics created the disturbance decided to hurl manure at the protesters instead of trying some defusing tactics. A pathetic bunch that all deserved each other.
    The mess in Ottawa wasn’t a fluke. Dysfunction has become the new normal at airports, passport offices, CRA, VIA et al. Our Global Affairs team books $7000/night rooms for our political class with no shame.
    Bring on the election.

  5. Andy Kaut says:

    I’m afraid we have to define broken. Words over-used lose meaning, and this one is no exception.

    Broken, when referring to an entire nation, has to mean whether or not it’s working for a majority of its denizens. And I think it is working, on the whole, if we are to compare relative to the other places that aren’t doing so well. Hereafter follows a list we’d do well to be grateful for.

    We’re short random detainment of political dissidents and confiscation of their assets. We don’t fire people from government who speak truth to power. We absolutely have a firm hold on fiscal policy, economic prudence and fair representation of the taxed. As a nation, we have first class health care, education and transport infrastructure. We have a thriving energy sector that works collaboratively with an exceptionally synergistic federal framework to ensure export conduits and markets are readily available and promoted as part of our national identity.

    We don’t have an underclass. We don’t have unaffordable housing, post-secondary education or food.

    Eggs don’t cost $20/dozen anywhere in our great country, especially not in remote areas that ritually have higher rates of suicide, depression and infant mortality.

    We have no poverty. No smoldering ruins of churches, no burning barricades over rail lines. No legislators walking away from our process because of its inherent racism.

    I really don’t see, with blinders this thick, what could possibly be the problem.

  6. Warren,

    JustinInflationTM is killing the Trudeau Liberals. They spent more dough than any other G7 country and now them chickens have come home to roost. The Trudeau Liberals are DONE, whether the election comes tomorrow or at the five year mark.

    • Curious V says:

      And PP will fix everything. He won’t improve life for anybody but his big shot pals. Conservatives do nothing for the working person, or the working poor, but they sure know how to stoke anger, while offering absolutely no solutions – his pals will profit, but joe and jane front porch will suffer for it. PP is an ideologue with a populist message. He seems adept at stoking fear and anger, but he’ll drive us right into the ditch.

  7. Curious V says:

    Canada has never been fair. It’s never been a place that offers real opportunity to ordinary people. It gives a leg up to the entitled class, and it’s been that way since my dad immigrated from Europe, and it remained the same as I graduated from two degrees. while I saw nepotism carry so many, and starve so many more. Politicians haven’t done much to change the status quo, just that it’s a lot worse when conservatives are in charge. As much as PP lambasts Trudeau, he’s unlikely to improve anything, and he’ll probably make it worse.

    • Martin Dixon says:

      So it looks like you basically agree with the premise except that you think that it is a systemic problem with the party. If you check The Google, you will note that the Liberals have been in charge for more than 2/3rds of the time since 1900. If the Conservatives are to blame for all of our woes, they must be very good to have caused them all during the rare periodic times they were in power.

  8. Curious V says:

    The last time I experienced a merit based process, or fairness I was a bartender, years ago. All I’ve experienced in this country is health discrimination and ignorance and a leg up for the entitled, and less capable – a culture of cronies and sycophants’. Sure, we’ve experienced a lot of turbulence over the last number of years with the pandemic, inflation sky rocketing, housing prices and rent run amok, but it only becomes an issue when entitled folks feel jilted. Home owners have profited handsomely, while new Canadians, people with disabilities and the working poor are struggling like they always have – it would be a lot worse if a conservative were in charge. They pander to elites, unite folks with anger and hate, and end up enriching the rich while singing the working persons song – nothing will improve if PP is elected, it just gets worse.

  9. whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    Apparently, better is NOT always possible.

  10. Curious V says:

    PP is an ideologue, adept at stoking fear, but void of solutions. He’ll feed his overfed fat-cat buddies, but in the process he’ll drive us into a ditch.

  11. Peter Williams says:

    Re Chinese election interference as reported by The Globe and Mail.


    The NDP say no need to see documents, we stand with Trudeau. If Canada isn’t broken the NDP are.

    Trudeau says the reports contain “so many inaccuracies”

    From Trudeau’s view point (supported by Singh) there was no interference. An explanation.
    Interfere: to take part in an activity without invitation or necessity. Didn’t a former Liberal invite China to participate in the election?
    Interfere: to handle or adjust something without permission. See above
    Interfere: to prevent a process from being carried out properly. No one was prevented from voting,
    Interfere: attempt to bribe or intimidate someone (a witness). China didn’t bribe anyone re the election.
    Thus endith the foray into the mind of Justin Trudeau.

  12. Curious V says:

    A textbook demagogue.

  13. Sean says:

    This is another excellent article: well written, main idea well supported and easy for guys like me to understand

    Full Marks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.