What Canada, Mexico think of US, Pew poll says


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Asylum seekers wait for news outside El Chaparral port of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on March 19, 2020. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)

The United States and what it means to be American represent different things to different people, but for Canadians and Mexicans – themselves continental Americans – the very first words that come to mind when thinking about the U.S. relate to the current occupier of the White House and economics, according to a survey published Monday by Pew Research Center, a Washington, D.C.-based public opinion research group.

In a nutshell: “Trump,” “money” and “work.”

In fact, America’s neighbors to the north and south give somewhat different answers when asked to provide a descriptor, in a single word, that reflects their views of the U.S.

On world stage: Trump loathed as much as Obama loved, Pew survey says

President Donald Trump’s last name is by far the most frequently mentioned word in Canada, followed by various mostly negative characteristics such as “chaos,” “confused” and “bully.” In Mexico, Trump also features prominently in response to the question. But the most commonly cited words are “money,” “work” and “migration,” alongside more negative expressions like “discrimination” and “racism.”

The survey was conducted in spring 2019, well before the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic came under scrutiny. 

It also found that large majorities in both countries lack confidence in Trump to do the right thing on world affairs and disapprove of some of his key foreign policies.

Few Canadians or Mexicans offered positive words about the U.S., the survey showed, although men were about twice as likely in both places to do so. In Canada, the figure was 11% of men versus 5% of women; in Mexico, 17% of men versus 8% of women. 

Previous Pew studies have shown that America’s global image is complicated. Majorities of international populations give the U.S. high favorability ratings when it comes to respecting the civil liberties of individuals, and most countries prefer the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower over authoritarian China, but confidence in the U.S. presidency has plunged under Trump compared with his predecessor, Barack Obama. Western European countries France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in particular, now say that the U.S. does not do enough to protect individual liberties. 

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has clashed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over a range of issues from climate change to North Atlantic Treaty Organization military alliance commitments. The two leaders have also, at times, appeared to mend fences; for example, over the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) free trade deal ratified by each nation, and Mexico.

USMCA may take effect this summer. 

In recent days, Trudeau has said he won’t retaliate against Washington after Trump ordered 3M, a Minnesota-based manufacturer of protective health care equipment, to stop exporting face masks to Canada amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S.-Canada border closes: What it means for travelers

Trump has made reducing the flow of hundreds of thousands of people who travel through Central America to the U.S. a cornerstone of his foreign policy. Rule changes to reduce asylum claims and efforts to build a physical barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico form part of his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration. 

Pew’s survey found that Mexicans more frequently used neutral words rather than negative ones to describe the U.S. However, among the negative words, “bad,” “racist” and “injustice” were among the most cited. There was a link in Mexico between wanting to live in the U.S. and the words chosen, although it represented a small proportion.

Mexicans who had the means and opportunity to live in the U.S., but chose not to, were twice as likely (38%) to say something negative about the USA compared with those who would like to live and work there but had no obvious path to make it happen (19%).

Disputes roil NATO meetings in London: Trump calls Canada’s Trudeau ‘two-faced’

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Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, has tested positive for coronavirus.

USA TODAY

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