PhD candidate Alex Rivard and alumni Eric Merkley investigate support for Canada’s supply management system

UBC Political Science PhD candidate Alex Rivard and alumni Eric Merkley have published their new article titled, “What Moooves Opinion? Examining the Correlates and Dynamics of Mass Support for Supply Management in the Agriculture Sector,” in the Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Supply management is a long-standing agricultural policy in Canada that applies to dairy, poultry and eggs. To date, there exists no academic research on the correlates or dynamics of public support for supply management. We use data collected from the Digital Democracy Project's study of the 2019 Canadian election, including results from a between-subjects framing experiment, to show that support for supply management is most opposed by economic conservatives. However, we find support to be highly malleable by framing: it increases when respondents are primed to think of the policy as a way of protecting farmers and decreases when they are primed to think of its costs to consumers. Contrary to expectations, framing effects are not stronger when messages are ideologically congenial or among those with high levels of policy knowledge. If anything, effects are stronger among those with lower levels of knowledge.

“The research suggests that public opinion is flexible regarding how the policy is framed,” Rivard said. “That means that proponents should continue to frame is a policy that protects farmers and that opponents should stress its negative effect on your pocketbook.”