Canadianizing the United States? Public Opinion across the 49th Parallel

Friday, May 9, 2014 (All day)
UC Berkeley International House, Golub Home Room
2299 Piedmont Ave.
Berkeley CA 94720

Organized by the Canadian Studies Program and the Institute of Governmental Studies 

This one-day conference aims to present and explain cross-national divergences and convergences in Canadian and US public opinion on issues of domestic policy and politics, with particular attention to energy and the environment, health insurance and social benefits, and immigration and diversity policies.

Registration for this event is now closed.

9:00-10:15 – Welcome and Opening remarks: Is the Continental Divide Closing?

  • Irene Bloemraad (UCB): Welcome, overview of difference / convergence debate
  • Michael Adams (Environics): Beyond Fire and Ice – 10 years later

10:15-10:45 – Coffee break

10:45-12:15 – Panel 1: Public Opinion and the Welfare State

Canadians’ national identity has long included distinguished themselves from Americans. A major distinction centers on the perceived greater generosity of the Canadian welfare state. Since the late 1990s, however, some observers argue that Canadian social spending is more and more like that of the United States. Are Americans and Canadian distinct in their opinions on the welfare state and social spending?   


  • Chair: Keith Banting (Queen's University)
  • Presenters:
    • Stuart Soroka (McGill University): "Redistributive Preferences and Partisan Polarization: Canada in Comparative Perspective"
    • Leslie McCall (Northwestern University): "Comparative Implications of Beliefs about Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution in the U.S"
  • Commentator: Paul Pierson (University of California, Berkeley), Keith Neuman (Environics Institute)

12:15-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-2:45 – Panel 2: Energy, Global Resource Markets and the Environment

The booming energy sector – from oil sands to natural gas – has transformed parts of the US and Canada and made selling natural resources on global markets vital to regional economies. At the same time, debate over environmental protections and climate change continue. Do residents’ opinions in resource-rich economic regions in Canada and the United States look more similar to each other than to opinions in other regions in the same country? Rather than focus on US/Canada differences, should we consider North American regions?


  • Chair: Kathryn Harrison (University of British Columbia)
  • Presenters:
    • Erick Lachapelle (Université de Montréal): "Explaining attitudes toward climate and energy policy: The spatial determinants of public opinion in Canada and the United States," co-author: Tim Gravelle (University of Essex)
    • Michal Moore (University of Calgary): "Energy Literacy: connecting the dots between knowledge, hunch, misinformation and energy systems"
  • Commentator: Dan Kammen (University of California, Berkeley)

2:45-3:15 – Coffee break

3:15-4:30 – Panel 3: Diversity and Democracy: Immigration and Multiculturalism Policy

While Canadians often juxtapose what they see as the Canadian multicultural mosaic to the American “melting pot,” various scholars have argued that cross-national differences in public opinion on diversity and cultural retention are minor or even non-existent. At the same time, Canadians do express among the highest levels of support for immigrant admissions among the Western nations. Just how distinctive is Canadian opinion from that of Americans? Do views vary based on the type of immigrants we consider?


  • Chair: Irene Bloemraad (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Presenters: 
    • Jack Citrin (University of California, Berkeley) "Continental Divide or Two Solitudes? Public Opinion on Identity & Diversity in Today’s US and Canada"
    • Allison Harell (Université du Québec à Montréal): "Threat, Control and Support for Immigration in Canada and the US" 
  • Commentators: Rima Wilkes (University of British Columbia)

4:30 – Reception, sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada - San Francisco/Silicon Valley


  • The Honourable Cassie Doyle, Consul General of Canada/San Francisco-Silicon Valley

i-house map thumbnailInternational House is on the UC Berkeley campus at the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way, adjacent to the stadium. 

See the I-House's transportation page for maps and parking options.

For more information, please contact: Ms. Rita Ross, (510) 642-0531, rjross [at]