The COVID-19 pandemic has united Canadians more than any other event in decades, according to a new study by McGill University and University of Toronto researchers. The study found that among Canadians, there is cross-partisan consensus on the threat the virus poses and measures that need to be taken to battle it. The study also found that when there isn’t a consensus – which is the case in the United States – compliance with physical distancing guidelines is undermined, which poses an obvious threat. The researchers looked at data from the social media accounts of MPs, Google search trends, and opinion surveys on the public to conduct their study.
“We know that public opinion tends to become polarized on highly salient issues, except when political leaders are in consensus,” said co-author Aengus Bridgman in a press release on Monday. Bridgman is a PhD candidate in political science at McGill. “In the United States, there appears to be political and public polarization on the severity of the pandemic.”