Protests this weekend will reflect a mix of concern over the G8/G20 summits’ agendas, and objections to the very legitimacy of the meetings themselves, suggests an online survey of “engaged Canadians” by the Rideau Institute.
“There is a discussion going on among people participating in the protests and popular conferences outside of the G8/G20 meetings about how best to advance their commonly held issues of concern,” said Steven Staples, president of the Ottawa-based research and advocacy group.
The study employed social media and informal online surveys at www.TheG8G20Agenda.ca to gather responses. One survey found that, given the opportunity, 48% of respondents would choose to be “in the room” with world leaders to influence discussions, while 52% would choose to be “in the streets” with demonstrators protesting the meetings.
“The mood has shifted from an attempt to influence the discussions of the world leaders to a questioning of the very legitimacy of the meetings themselves as the summits have approached,” added Staples, himself a former organizer of the famous WTO protests in Seattle a decade ago.
While there may be a difference of opinion on how best to tackle global problems, there is greater consensus on the priorities engaged Canadians want to see addressed by world leaders.
When asked to rate the importance of ten issues, respondents overwhelmingly focused on the environment. “The right to clean water” (91%) and “global warming” (86%) were chosen most often as “very important” topics for leaders to discuss, followed closely by “food security and hunger” (85%) and “global peace and nuclear disarmament” (77%). Issues most often chosen as “not important at all” were “Iran’s nuclear program” (24%) and “security and terrorism” (19%).
The Rideau Institute conducted its study between June 7 and June 25, 2010, analyzing survey responses, comments, and other social media data created by 3,014 visitors to www.TheG8G20Agenda.ca over the two-week period. Selected tables of responses and comments are available for download from www.rideauinstitute.ca.