On my radar this week

Alain Giguère

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34% of Canadians are less concerned that the news they read or watch is true or false than whether it strikes an emotional cord! (And the lie in Mozart’s Don Giovanni)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 03-20-17 at 4:33 p.m.

Are we prepared for a Donald Trump to lead our country?

During his election campaign, Donald Trump admitted to having lied a few times when unable to sufficiently hold his audiences' interest. When he felt that people were getting bored, he would launch some trial balloons and then retract them when the false information no longer proved useful. None of which prevented him from being elected President of the United States. One might have thought that a politician who admitted to lying would be toast. But, no. By telling people what they wanted to hear, true or false, he charmed the crowds!

We have also witnessed the explosion of "fake news," which Mr. Trump has unquestionably exploited and continues to exploit-a case in point: the alleged wiretapping by President Obama.

There is something deeply disturbing about this phenomenon. You can lie to people, yet they don't care! Are there a significant number of Canadians who would react the same way, I wondered. With no expectations of coming up with any meaningful results, we nevertheless asked this question in our last survey on the values of Canadians: "When I read, hear or watch the news, it doesn't matter if it's absolutely true or not; what's more important to me is that it affects me emotionally, that it touches something deep inside me."

To our utter stupefaction, 34% of Canadians said they agree with this statement! Two out of five in Québec (37%), the province with the highest proportion, compared to 30% in British Columbia and the Prairie Provinces, with the lowest proportion.

It is true that three times as many people say they "somewhat agree" than "totally agree" with this assertion-26% versus 8%-but even so, they still don't mind being lied to as long as they get an emotional hit!

Also astonishing is that one in three in the country (32% in Canada) only "somewhat disagree" with the notion in question. How is it possible not to totally disagree with this statement (34% in Canada)?

The most vulnerable groups

Those who agree with the said statement are found among people with the lowest incomes and education in the country, among immigrants and blue-collar workers. Most surprising are the youth: 43% of Canadians 18 to 24 years of age agree with the statement; and 39% of those aged 25 to 34.

It's as if, when suffering from certain socioeconomic disadvantages, taking comfort in having one's perceptions validated, experiencing some emotional gratification, being touched on an emotional level, is more important than getting the facts straight. Just as with authoritarian regimes, whether soviet or communist, where what counts is the effectiveness, the utility of the information, not its accuracy; in this case, effectiveness is the ability to touch people's emotional hot buttons.

Click here for detailed results

Is this where the current wave of populism across Western democracies is leading us? Is the tradition of truth losing its relevance in our new, complex and uncertain world?

The values and mentalities behind the acceptance of lies

The sociocultural profile of these "willingly credulous" individuals helps us understand why they express such an attitude. First and foremost, they are profoundly cynical. They simply believe that all the elites are lying to them! That the media, politicians, business people, even scientists, all have an agenda and are lying to the public to get what they want!

They also feel more or less excluded within society. They feel disconnected from what's going on in the world and from what the media is telling them. They believe that there is no (or no longer a) place for people like them in society. They are fatalistic, expecting bad things to happen to them. They feel that they have little control over their lives, while at the same time believing that they will eventually adapt to current conditions, notably through civil disobedience-desperate times, desperate measures!

They also highly regard strong leadership, which they see as the way to redress the exclusion they feel in today's world.

And so we come full circle, to Mr. Trump, or to his eventual Canadian counterpart!

Click here to consult values profile

The opportunities for companies and organisations

Whenever we identify societal and market phenomena, I enjoy finding their implications and opportunities for organisations, companies and brands. In this case, I would never recommend lying to the public or to consumers while manipulating their emotions to promote a cause. However, people do need to feel moved, to be comforted and mobilized via their hot buttons. Today, more than ever, the communications opportunity for organizations and brands is to find ways to touch people emotionally. Informing them is necessary but insufficient.

Of course, one must be doubly vigilant to root out fake news and expose its authors. We must call on the media, the press and social media platforms to do their part. I consider the efforts of Facebook and other platforms rather paltry given the magnitude of the phenomenon.

The lie in Don Giovanni!

In the history of opera, one of the greatest liars-if not the greatest liar-is undoubtedly Don Giovanni. He doesn't lie to achieve political power; he lies to seduce women! I have chosen a clip in which his valet, Leporello, attempts to "console" a conquest abandoned by his boss. He explains to the unhappy woman that she is but one of his boss's many conquests to whom he has promised the sun and the moon (notably marriage) to take advantage of them. Known as the "Catalogue Aria," it is, in my estimation, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. Here, it is performed in a modern production at La Scala in Milan (December 2011).

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni – Peter Mattei, Bryn Terfel, Anna Netrebko, Barbara Frittoli, Giuseppe Filianoti, Anna Prohaska, Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Daniel Barenboim, Production: Robert Carsen, Milano, release 06 Nov. 2015, Deutsche Grammophon.

Opinion of the residents of Brossard, Saint-Bruno and Saint-Lambert regarding the agglomeration of Longueuil

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 03-17-17 at 4:02 p.m.

In March 2017, CROP conducted a telephone survey among 1,000 residents of the boroughs of Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert about their awareness of the “On paie trop pour Longueuil” campaign. Also investigated in the survey were the residents’ perceptions of the current tax management system as well as their level of favourability toward holding a referendum with the ultimate goal of requesting the government to demerge the three boroughs from the South Shore Regional agglomeration.

For more details about this issue, click on the following hyperlinks and find out what was said in the media.

Click here for the article published in Le Courrier du Sud – La Population est derrière les maires des villes liées (available in French only)

Click here for the article published in Les Versants – Un sondage et un dernier appel au premier ministre (available in French only)

Click here for the press release – Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville et Saint-Lambert se préparent à sortir de l’agglomération de Longueuil (available in French only)

Click on this video excerpt from CTV News – South Shore mayors want out of agglomeration (available in English only)

Canadians, Populism and Xenophobia

Categories: CROP in the news

Posted on 03-14-17 at 11:52 a.m.

A web-based study was conducted by CROP in January and February 2017 to inquire about Canadians’ views on various issues related to the subjects of populism and xenophobia. To see some of the results and understand the different perceptions, click on the following hyperlinks and find out what was said in the media.

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca – Prêt pour un Trump canadien? (available in French only)

Click here for the article published on Radio-Canada.ca – Une majorité de Canadiens exprime des craintes face à l'immigration (available in French only)

Click here for the article published on CBC.ca – Canadians divided when it comes to immigration, poll suggests (available in English only)

26% of Canadians believe that men are superior to woman! (And the mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor)

Categories: On my radar this week

Posted on 03-10-17 at 5:32 p.m.

Sexual equality isn't here yet!

International Women's Day on March 8 inspired me to put a survey question that has always intrigued me into perspective: "Whatever people say, men have a certain natural superiority over women, and nothing can change this." One in four Canadians (26%) agree with this statement. Almost one in three people in Québec (31%) agree with this statement, the province with the highest level of agreement, while the Atlantic region has the lowest level of agreement (at 20%).

What I find most curious is that young people, the Millennials, are the most in agreement with this statement (32%, or one in three). Could this be this due to the influence of Hollywood? Immigrants (people born outside Canada) and technical and blue-collar workers also stand out in being particularly in agreement with this statement.

Over the many years that we have been following the results of this question, the proportions have remained virtually unchanged (23% of the country in 2000), suggesting an entrenched background sentiment of male superiority.

We should also point out that very similar proportions of women agree with this statement (24%), leading us to conclude that Tarzan will have no trouble finding his Jane here!

Superiority or difference? The values and hot buttons underlying this view

It has already been pointed out that to any chauvinist interpretation of the results of this question, you can object that men's physical strength confers a "certain superiority" (men and women compete separately in the Olympics, for example). Others who share a feminist or less chauvinistic point of view consider physical strength more of a difference than a proof of superiority. In an increasingly knowledge-based economy and even in traditionally male jobs, women are performing as well as their male colleagues.

Click here for detailed results

Most telling in this debate is the value profile of the individuals who agree with the above-mentioned statement: they could not be more conservative.

They also express great difficulty living in today's world: they feel they have little control over their lives; they have trouble living with the change and complexity of life today. For them, society no longer has guideposts, standards, morality; people's roles have become unstructured. Women's emancipation beyond their traditional roles is proof positive for them that our society is losing its way!

Status is also an issue, along with a great deal of social-psychological nostalgia-for an era where men played the dominate roles and had the highest status in society. These individuals still crave an enviable social status, which underlies their interest in traditional roles where men and woman have clearly defined functions (corresponding to antiquated stereotypes).

We also find a significant proportion of immigrants among the people in agreement with this statement. Immigrants often come from societies espousing more traditional values and that continue to impose highly predetermined roles on men and women.

In short, we can conclude that those in agreement with this question truly see the statement as expressing the social superiority of men versus women, in the traditional, stereotypical roles they believe in!

The opportunities for businesses and organisations

I do not pretend to have the solution to the problem of sexual equality in our society; others have taken up that banner. However, given my strong concern for corporate responsibility (I sincerely believe that companies need to take this on), I see this issue as providing some very promising avenues.

All companies and organisations are founded on values. In 2017, I'm sure Justin Trudeau would agree that equality and equal opportunity must inform the fundamental values of every organization, and that concrete practices must be put in place to ensure that this value is incorporated into organizational cultures. In companies with technical jobs, and with young and immigrant employees, in particular, promoting an organizational culture based on sexual equality would surely help the situation evolve-especially since the results of our question have barely moved in 20 years.

For brands, too, promoting sexual equality can only be beneficial in today's marketplace. One example is the delightful ad run by Audi during the last Super Bowl (http://www.superbowlcommercials.co/audi/), surely one of the least feminist media placement venues around. The ad highlights the company's commitment to equal pay for equal work: "Progress is for everyone."

Click here to consult values profile

The mad scene in the opera, Lucia di Lammermoor

To illustrate just how far women have come over the centuries, I have chosen a clip from the opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, by Gaetano Donizetti. Italian opera in the 19th century usually depicted women as hysterical, neurotic and unstable. In this excerpt, Lucia has effectively lost her mind! Her brother has forced her to marry a "good catch" to raise the family's social standing. The evening of the wedding, Lucia, in a deranged state of madness, kills her new husband and sings her joy at soon being reunited with her former lover! Known as the "mad scene," it is a melodic jewel.

Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor / Netrebko, Beczala, Kwiecien, The Metropolitan Opera, New York, 2009, Deutsche Grammophon.

RRSP or no RRSP, that is the question!

Categories: Food for thought

Posted on 03-09-17 at 8:15 p.m.

With the dreaded tax season just around the corner, CROP thought it quite fitting in February to ask Quebec workers about their attitudes and perceptions with regard to their retirement. Here’s what we learned:

Contributing to a pension plan…
a matter of generation

On the whole, more than one in every two Quebec workers have access to a pension fund through their employer and surprisingly, it is older workers who have less of an opportunity to contribute to an RRSP through work.

For the 2016 fiscal year, the 35-54 year-old cohort were more assiduous in securing their retirement by contributing to their RRSP (47% before February) or by intending to do so before March 1st, while one in two workers aged 55 or more have no intention this year to put money into a pension plan.

It seems as if 55+ year-olds are, on the whole, less inclined today toward retirement planning, maybe it’s because they’ve already done so and no longer need to worry about it?

A majority of Quebec workers are optimistic about their financial situation at retirement

Our survey results reveal that men are the most optimistic about their financial circumstances when comes the time for them to retire.

Obviously enough, workers who currently contribute to an RRSP are, on the whole, more confident about a financially secure retirement than those who do not.

All the more reason to keep up with those RRSP payments!

Does your employer offer you the option to contribute to a pension plan?

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Have you contributed or do you plan to contribute to an RRSP by March 1st, 2017?

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When you consider your financial situation at your retirement, would you say that your outlook is…?

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