The Nanos Number: Are taxes the way to cut the deficit?

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives. This week: How do Canadians feel about tax hikes to cover deficit-spending?
Nik Nanos of Nanos Research talks about taxes and deficits 5:48

Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC New Network's Power & Politics to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: How do Canadians want governments to control deficits. Is raising taxes a good option?

The number:


The percentage of Canadians who say they would have a negative or somewhat negative view of a politician proposing to increase taxes to cover deficit spending.

The source: Nanos Research national representative online survey of 1,000 Canadians taken June 11-12, 2012.

A recent Nanos Research survey suggests the answer is no — at least at this point in time.

The nationally representative online survey of 1,000 Canadians, taken June 11-12, asked: If a politician said that taxes would have to increase in the future to pay for the deficit spending we are incurring in the current economic situation, would you have a positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative or negative impression of that politician?

The results suggest 5 and 12 per cent of Canadians would have a positive or somewhat positive impression and 22 per cent would have a neutral view. But 24 and 31 per cent responded that they would have a somewhat negative or negative impression of a politician suggesting they would raise taxes to pay for deficit spending.

Nanos Research asked this same question back in April of 2009 and only 12 per cent of Canadians had a somewhat negative view and 31 per cent had a negative view.

Nik Nanos says the difference is significant.

"The intensity of negative views related to this are significant and they're growing.… Canadians do not want to see tax measures as a strategy to control the deficit at this point in time."

"When the Conservatives were in the midst of the economic action plan, that support or views related to taxes as an instrument to control the deficit were better than they are today," Nanos told Power & Politics host Chris Hall. "But fast forward to today, we still have an uncertain economy, confidence is flat, Canadians don't want to open their wallets in order to pay more taxes to control the deficit."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent Monday and Tuesday at a meeting with G20 leaders in Mexico. There he was selling the government's message of fiscal responsibility and restraint and reiterating his tough stance on the debt crisis in Europe, suggesting the eurozone countries could learn from Canada.

The results of this Nanos survey offer a view of why the government's policy of cuts and cutbacks is the politically safe way forward right now. But Nanos warned it also highlights a risk for the NDP.

"Traditionally the New Democrats tend not to have as hard a line on taxes and tend to be more predisposed to spending to help Canadians and those less fortunate to get through uncertain times."

Nanos says the big question is whether NDP Leader Tom Mulcair touts the traditional NDP line when it comes to taxes and spending, or if he will move the party more to the centre.

Watch this week's Nanos Number above.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).