This is the third report from the Digital Democracy Project, a partnership between the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. Evidence suggests that Canada is becoming more like the United States when it comes to polarization—typically understood as the segmenting of society into increasingly isolated and mutually incomprehensible political tribes. It is also common to see at least some of the blame for polarization placed on the media, where increasingly partisan social media echo chambers amplify disagreement and distort the public conversation. This report explores the level of polarization in Canada across different media platforms.
- There is evidence of affective polarization—dislike of parties or their supporters on the other end of the political spectrum simply because they belong to an opposing group—among the Canadian public.
- Twitter users of all partisan stripes tend to create their own polarized spaces online. They are more likely to follow only candidates from their own party than others.
- Media sources that draw a highly partisan audience are only viewed by a small percentage of Canadians who share those partisan leanings. What makes someone more likely to consume these news sources is not how partisan they are, but how much time they spend on social media.
- However, polarization does not appear to be linked to media consumption—either for traditional media, social media, or media sources that are preferred by mostly left-leaning or right-leaning supporters.