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Survey of Electors on Communications with Electors

Protection of Personal Information and Privacy

This section examines electors' attitudes toward the protection of their personal information and privacy.

Mixed Views Vis-à-vis Personal Information Collection and Privacy

Electors were asked to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with several statements about political parties and privacy issues. Statements included the following:

Majority views emerged on the issues of privacy and the collection of personal information. Respondents were most likely to agree that electors who are contacted by a party or candidate should have the right to 'opt out' of any further contact by that party or candidate. Fully 78% agreed that this should be the case, with 66% saying they completely agree. Fewer than one in ten (9%) disagreed about the right to 'opt out'. Twelve percent were undecided.

Views were far less definitive when it came to how personal information is used. In fact, respondents were fairly evenly distributed across the 5-point scale, with 31% agreeing and 33% disagreeing that parties and candidates in Canada use personal information appropriately to communicate with electors. The rest (35%) were ambivalent, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statement.


Attitudes Towards Personal Information and Privacy graph

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More than two thirds of respondents somewhat disagreed (14%) or completely disagreed (55%) with the view that it is important that federal political parties be able to collect personal information on electors. Just 15% agreed that this is important; the rest (16%) were neutral.

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of agreeing that electors who are contacted by a political party or candidate should have the right to 'opt out' of any further contact by that party was highest amongst:

  • Canadians under the age of 55 (79-81% vs. 71% aged 55 and over).
  • Canadians with higher levels of formal education: it was lowest amongst those with high school education or less (65%), followed by those with college or some university education (79%), and finally those who had completed university (85%).
  • Students (88%) and the employed (82% vs. 68-73% of others).
  • Internet users (81% vs. 56% of non-users).
  • Canadians who have registered their phone numbers in the "Do Not Call List" (81% vs. 76% for those who have not registered their phone number)

Members of households with both a landline and a cell phone telephone or cell phone-only households (80-82% vs. 60% with a landline only).

The likelihood of disagreeing that it is important that federal political parties be able to collect personal information on electors was highest amongst:

  • Canadians 35 and over (72-75% vs. 46-60% of younger Canadians).
  • University graduates (73% vs. 65-67% with less formal education).
  • Non-students (70-73% vs. 40% of students).

The likelihood of disagreeing that federal political parties and candidates use personal information appropriately to communicate with electors was highest amongst:

  • Canadians 55+ and older (46% vs. 28% or less of younger electors).
  • Those with high school education or less (37% vs. 27-32% of others).
  • Those who are retired or otherwise not in the workforce (41% compared to those who are employed at 31%).
  • Francophones (40% vs. 30% of Anglophones).
  • Internet non-users (40% vs. 30% of Internet users).
  • Members of landline-only households (44% vs. 20-30% of others).

Preserving Privacy Trumps Need to Communicate with Electors

In the trade-off between preserving an elector's privacy and the need for political parties and candidates to be able to communicate with electors, nearly two thirds of respondents think that privacy should always (53%) or mostly (13%) prevail. Conversely, 15% feel that the needs of parties and candidates to communicate with electors should always or mostly prevail. The rest (19%) were uncertain, placing themselves at the mid-point of the 5-point scale.


Need to Communicate with Electors Vs. Personal Privacy graph

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Looking further into the interrelation within subject matters between these two previous questions, we find that respondents who favour persevering an elector's privacy were less likely to think it important that federal parties and candidates be able to collect personal information on electors (9% vs. 32%) and that they use the personal information they collect appropriately to communicate with electors (25% vs. 48%). Those who favoured the need for political parties and candidates to communicate with electors, conversely, were more likely to find a range of purposes for being contacted by political parties and candidates to be appropriate (26% vs. 18% found all purposes asked about appropriate).

Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of favouring privacy over the needs of political parties and candidates to communicate with electors was highest amongst older Canadians (70% of those aged 55 and over; 66% of those aged 35-54; 62% of those aged 25-34; 53% of those aged 18-24) and Francophones (76% vs. 62% of Anglophones).

The likelihood of favouring the needs of political parties and candidates to communicate with electors was highest amongst those with high school education or less (21% vs. 11-15% of those with higher levels of formal education) and those who do not use the Internet (22% vs. 14% of Internet users).

Clear Preference for Regulation by Privacy Laws

Almost two thirds of surveyed electors (65%) think that political parties and candidates should be regulated by privacy laws when it comes to how and when they can communicate with electors during a federal election. Approximately three in ten (31%) hold the opposing view. These respondents feel that parties and candidates should self-regulate themselves when it comes to communicating with electors during a federal election.


Preferred Approach to Regulations graph

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Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of thinking that political parties and candidates should be regulated by privacy laws was highest amongst:

  • Canadians aged 25-54 (70-73% vs. 51-61% of others).
  • Canadians with a university degree (73% vs. 58-61% of others).
  • Employed Canadians (70% vs. 54-58% of others).
  • Internet users (68% vs. 43% of non-users).

Strong Minority of Electors Registered Telephone Number with DNCL

Four in ten surveyed electors said that their telephone number is registered with the 'do not call list' so that they do not receive calls from telemarketing companies. The majority—54%—have not registered their phone number (6% declined to provide a response).


DNCL Registration graph

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Socio-demographic Differences

The likelihood of having one's telephone number registered with the 'do not call list' was highest amongst:

  • Residents of Ontario (53% vs. 30-41% elsewhere).
  • Canadians aged 35 and over (45-48% vs. 11-36% of younger Canadians).
  • University graduates (50% vs. 34-35% with lower levels of formal education).
  • Those who are retired or otherwise not in the workforce (47%).
  • Anglophones (43% vs. 31% of Francophones).
  • Internet users (43% vs. 31% of non-users).
  • Dual landline and cell phone households (46% vs. 22-31% of others). It was lowest amongst cell phone-only households.