16 yr of meteor radar data from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) were used to investigate the link between observed meteor rates and both solar and geomagnetic activity. Meteor rates were corrected for transmitter power and receiver noise, and seasonal effects were removed. A strong negative correlation is seen between solar activity, as measured with the 10.7 cm flux, and observed meteor rates. This lends support to the idea that heating in the atmosphere at times of elevated solar activity changes the scale height and therefore the length and maximum brightness of meteors; a larger scale height near solar maximum leads to longer, fainter meteors and therefore lower rates. A weaker negative correlation was observed with geomagnetic activity as measured with the K index; this correlation was still present when solar activity effects were removed. Meteor activity at solar maximum is as much as 30 per cent lower than at solar minimum, strictly due to observing biases; geomagnetic activity usually affects meteor rates by less than 10 per cent.