Diversity and Racism in Canada: Competing views deeply divide country along gender, generational lines

Summary of latest Angus Reid survey, with the usual clever segmentation. Glass half full or half empty?:

These are times of deep reckoning over issues of race and identity, hatred, and violence in Canada.

Against the backdrop of the London, ON, attack that targeted and killed a Muslim family, the deep pain associated with revelations about the hundreds of children buried on the grounds of former residential schools, and ongoing reports of discrimination against Canadians of Asian origin, many are attempting to reconcile the realities of the nation’s attitudes towards diversity and equality with national mythologizing about multiculturalism.

The second report from a comprehensive research series from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute in partnership with the University of British Columbia dives deeply into the sentiments of those living in this country – to illuminate perceptions and attitudes towards diversity and racism.

For 85 per cent of the population, that Canada is home to people from different races and ethnicities betters the nation. Canadians of all regions of the country, age groups, political ideologies and ethnic backgrounds agree on this point.

But does everyone feel it? Contradictions abound. Fully one-in-three (34%) say “Canada is a racist country.” Among those who believe this most keenly: visible minorities (42 per cent of whom say so) and women, particularly those under the age of 35, who are much more likely than men to hold this view (54%).

On the other hand, however, fewer than one-in-eight (12%) say they believe some races are superior to others. Further, 41 per cent of Canadians say that people seeing discrimination where it does not exist is a bigger problem for the country than people not being able to see where it does.

These perspectives coalesce to form four mindsets with which Canadians view diversity. This report analyzes each – the Detractors, Guarded, Accepting and Advocates – to better understand the expectations of Canadians heading into the second half century of official multiculturalism.

More Key Findings:

  • Three-quarters of Canadians over the age of 55 disagree that Canada is a racist country, while 54 per cent of women between the ages of 18 and 34 say that it is
  • One-in-five Canadians (21%) say that they feel like they are treated as an outsider in Canada. This proportion is 17 per cent among Caucasians, 30 per cent among Indigenous respondents and 29 per cent among visible minorities.
  • The Advocates, one-quarter of Canadians, are very concerned about racism and discrimination, to the point that they are twice as likely as visible minorities themselves to say that police are prejudiced or racist toward the latter demographic (83% vs 42%)
  • The Detractors, made up of older and more conservative Canadians, are also one-quarter of the population. This group is distinct in that it is more likely than others to say that immigration levels are way too high, and that racism is not a problem in Canada
  • One-quarter of Canadians feel “cold” toward Muslims, more than any other group asked about in the survey. Men over the age of 55 (42%) and Quebecers (37%) are among the most likely to say that.
  • Most Albertans (54%) and Saskatchewanians (57%) believe exaggerating racism is a bigger problem in Canada than not seeing racism where it exists.
  • Yet residents of Saskatchewan (44%) were the most likely to agree that Canada is a racist country. Residents of Quebec (24%) were the least likely.

Source: Diversity and Racism in Canada: Competing views deeply divide country along gender, generational lines

Full survey: click here

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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