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By Robert Wolfe and Andrew Parkin

Abstract

Information on Canada Summary. Do public protests dramatize the new political salience of trade policy? This article analyzes a survey of Canadian mass opinion taken just before the protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. The survey design allows a comparison of the difference between Canadians ’ positive assessment of trade agreements but more ambivalent responses to “globalization. ” We examine a series of underlying attitudes and values to probe latent opinion on trade and globalization. We conclude that the permissive consensus on trade agreements is robust – that is, Canadians are prepared to defer to governments on trade liberalization – but this consensus may be endangered by ongoing globalization and pressures for North American integration that go well beyond issues of tariffs and trade. On these latter issues, the nature of globalization and integration, not its existence, are subject to heated debate. 1 Do public protests dramatize the new political salience of trade policy? Were the anti-globalization demonstrators in the streets of Quebec City in April 2001 acting as surrogates for millions of other Canadians? 1 The answers matter for policy because protest in general can affect the climate of ideas within governments and international organizations (Knopf, 1998), and protest can be a signal to governments about the legitimacy of trade negotiations. Public opinion on trade liberalization matters for policy because politicians can become reluctant to pursue major initiatives that appear to be inconsistent with public opinion, remembering that elections can turn on such issues, as they did in Canada in 1911 and 1988. 2 Anti-globalization and anti-trade liberalization protestors have been a feature of international economic meetings since the gatherings in Seattle in December 1999. In anticipation of the Summit of th

Year: 2001
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