National Post

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Saturday, December 04, 1999

Ottawa does not govern according to will of people: poll
Steven Edwards
National Post

UNITED NATIONS - A majority of Canadians believe that the United Nations does a better job than Ottawa at carrying out policies they would like to see implemented, according to a worldwide poll conducted to mark the end of the millennium.

But as unrepresentative as the federal government might be, home rule is preferable to rule from UN headquarters, it seems.

When asked to choose from a list of nine goals the United Nation should pursue, only 9% of those polled said the organization should evolve into a world government.

The poll, titled the Millennium Survey, questioned 1,000 people in Canada and another 49,000 people in 59 other countries to learn about how people feel they are governed and what rights they can expect in their respective countries.

For 56% of the Canadians polled, Ottawa does not govern according to the will of the people. But 57% said they are satisfied with the results achieved by the United Nations.

The poll also found that only 26% of Canadians questioned would describe their government as "fair," and a mere 12% think it "efficient."

Nonetheless, 74% said that elections in Canada are "free and fair."

"We frankly were surprised that so many Canadians believe their government is not governed by the will of the people, even though a solid majority think that elections are free and fair," said David Lambert, senior vice-president of Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch (TNS Intersearch), based in Horsham, Penn., which conducted the survey this summer with Gallup International Association. In the next millennium, most of the Canadians polled said the United Nations should focus on humanitarian and peacekeeping issues.

Of the nine suggested objectives of the United Nations, the top three were promoting human rights (44%), providing humanitarian aid in times of natural disaster (34%) and preventing war through intervention (34%).

Although Ottawa purports to base much of its foreign policy on respect for human rights, 63% of the Canadians polled believe that human rights are only partially respected in Canada.

Only 30% of the respondents believe that the right to be considered equal before the law is fully respected in Canada. Only 26% think that Canada fully respects the right to equal pay for equal work.

The survey is accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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