Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

Are the stated priorities of Stephen Harper's government in line with Canadians' priorities?

Nanos Research conducted a survey to test support for the long-term priorities set out by the prime minister after his majority win last year and then asked Canadians what their priorities are.

The number:


Percentage of Canadians who said rebuilding the Canadian Forces was a top priority

The source: Nanos Research Survey, May 2012, May 2011

The results show that while Canadians support the government's goal of the "strengthening Canada's economic union," other priorities — defence spending, Arctic sovereignty — have much lower support.

What does this mean?

It suggests there are other reasons the Conservatives are embarking on these initiatives, and a deeper look at the polling suggests it has to do with money: specifically, raising money for the Conservative party by focusing on areas — such as crime and punishment and the military — that resonate with the Conservatives' core supporters.

Priorities are also shifting. Concerns about the economy are rising, while crime has fallen. And some priorities are missing altogether. On the list of long-term priorities articulated by the Harper government, health care is conspicuously absent. But when Canadians are asked for their priorities, the top two are always the economy and health care.

Military spending on Afghanistan, F-35 fighter jets to replace the CF-18s and other defence priorities don't square up with the fact that just four per cent of Canadians surveyed see rebuilding the Canadian Forces as a top priority for Canada.

That's the Nanos Number this week.

The Nanos national representative online survey of 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and older was completed between May 10 and 12, 2012. The policy priorities listed in the study were drawn from the prime minister's official website.

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).