Despite the frequent Trudeau government declaration that “diversity is our strength,” a new poll finds that Canadians — both white and non-white — are skeptical of the maxim, and believe that diversity can bring “problems” as well as benefits.
A strong majority of Canadians also said they believed non-permanent residents who express hate towards minorities or support for terrorist groups should be deported from Canada.
The Leger-Postmedia poll was conducted in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war and the ethnic tensions that has stoked in Canada. The poll found a majority of respondents also endorsed the notion that newcomers should be encouraged to embrace Canada’s “values and traditions,” and discard whatever cultural identity is “incompatible” with that.
“I wouldn’t suggest this is some novel condition that we’re suddenly grappling with,” said Andrew Enns, executive vice president with Leger.
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While the question doesn’t appear often in polls, Enns said it’s not the first time he’s seen widespread Canadian endorsement of the notion that “there should be a little bit more of the melting pot than the mosaic.”
Among respondents, 56 per cent favoured a mixed view of diversity’s benefits. While agreeing that “some elements of diversity can provide strength,” they backed the notion that it can also cause “problems” and “conflict.”
A mere 24 per cent of Canadians saw diversity as an unambiguous “strength” — roughly the same as the 21 per cent who characterized it as predominantly a “problem.”
Notably, white and non-white Canadians were almost in perfect agreement over the sentiment of diversity as a double-edged sword. Among Caucasians, 55 per cent backed the “diversity is both good and bad” position, while it attracted a slightly higher proportion of non-whites (56 per cent).
The same survey also identified widespread support for the idea that newcomers to Canada should be encouraged to exhibit a baseline level of support for “Canadian values” such as tolerance and liberalism.
Of respondents, 51 per cent agreed with the statement that Canadian authorities “should do more to ensure newcomers accept Canadian values.” An even higher proportion (55 per cent) endorsed the notion that Canada’s immigration policy should be premised on “encouraging newcomers to embrace broad mainstream values and traditions,” and leaving behind any beliefs “that may be incompatible with that.”
This sentiment, though, actually did show a bit of disparity among Canadian ethnic groups, with 59 per cent of white Canadians in the “Canadian values” camp, against just 46 per cent of non-whites.
The counter-sentiment — newcomers should be encouraged to “maintain and promote their own cultural and religious identities” — was endorsed by 23 per cent of Caucasians and 38 per cent of non-whites.
On this point, Enns noted that non-white respondents may have diverged simply because of the ambiguity of what “Canadian values” mean.
It was only two months ago that Canada saw large, disproportionately immigrant-led demonstrations calling for the expulsion of “gender ideology” from public school curricula. As Enns said, there is a social conservatism among immigrant communities that isn’t always sympatico with Canada’s various progressive frontiers.
The national survey was conducted against the phenomenon of Canadian cities being subjected to regular rallies relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
While frequently described as “pro-Palestinian” demonstrations, the protests have been almost entirely organized by groups such as Samidoun, the Palestinian Youth Movement and Toronto4Palestine — all of which are on record as endorsing the Oct. 7 massacres, and calling for the total destruction of Israel.
They’ve also featured no shortage of official speakers espousing extremist and even pro-terror rhetoric. This has included a speaker in Toronto calling for Hamas to retain its civilian hostages until concessions can be obtained from Israel. And an imam in Montreal leading a street full of demonstrators in prayer to “kill” the “Zionist aggressors.”
The survey’s opening question found that 78 per cent of Canadians harboured concerns “over how the Gaza/Israel conflict is impacting Canadian communities.”
A similar proportion (75 per cent) also backed the notion that non-citizens should face deportation “if they publicly express hatred towards a minority group or support a terrorist organization.”
The latter policy has not been pushed by any mainstream Canadian political party, but is currently being pursued in force across much of Europe, most notably in Germany. Last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz responded to incidents of pro-Hamas rallies by saying that the country should begin deporting ineligible migrants “on a large scale.”
The Leger-Postmedia poll also found a majority of Canadians rejecting the basic tenets of “antiracism” — an ideology that is now official federal policy. Through agencies such as the Canadian Humans Rights Commission, and the newly founded Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat, the federal government has openly pursued the notion that the country’s institutions are “systemically racist” and can only be redeemed via “deliberate systems and supports” favouring select “equity-seeking groups.
A mere 24 per cent of respondents backed the status quo on this program, while 50 per cent rejected the notion that “certain minority groups should be given additional rights and privileges in accordance with notions of decolonization, anti-racism and equity.”
The survey was an online poll of 1,531 Canadians over the age of 18, with results weighted by age, gender, mother tongue, region, education and presence of children in the household. Traditional margins of error do not apply to online surveys, but, for comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size yields a margin of error no greater than plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.