Glavin: Good news! Canada is not being overrun by racist zombie hordes

A bit overly dismissive of the Abacus poll IMO:

There are cranks among us. There are racists, loons, nutters, dingbats and weirdos among us and there are millions of them, according to a recent Abacus Data poll. I know this to be true because I read it in all the newspapers.

Here’s a National Post headline from last week: “Millions of Canadians believe in white replacement theory: poll.” Here’s the Toronto Star: “’Kind of terrifying’: Numbers show racist Great Replacement conspiracy theory has found audience in Canada.” Here’s Abacus Data’s own headline: “Millions believe in conspiracy theories in Canada.”

And then the story just seemed to disappear. If the story were true, why did it vanish after a couple of news cycles? Shouldn’t we all be taking this a lot more seriously?

If the story is true, millions of Canadians are afflicted with exactly the same fascist derangement that drove white supremacist Brenton Tarrant to massacre 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand three years ago. In a similarly live-streamed replication of the Christchurch atrocity only last month, the lunatic Payton Gendron slaughtered ten people in a Black neighbourhood in Buffalo, N.Y. with a weapon with the words “White replacement theory” written on it.

Surely it can’t be true that millions of Canadians are devoted to the same hideous “theory” that motivated Tarrant and Gendron, can it?

I’m happy to report that no, there’s no evidence to support the proposition, or contention, or if you like, this “theory” about millions of Canadians revealed by that Abacus poll, because the poll did not provide any evidence of the sort.

This is not to say that there weren’t some quite disturbing findings that the Abacus pollsters came up with. And the story didn’t quite vanish, either.

In an otherwise thoughtful contemplation of the degeneration of political discourse that appeared in Policy magazine last weekend, the outspoken New Democrat Charlie Angus contemplated the tendency to crazy thinking as a kind of orchard where Conservatives are happy to find low-hanging fruit, and perhaps it explains why “some Conservative leadership candidates have spent so much time promoting all manner of conspiracy claims.”

Angus wrote: “Maybe the Conservatives think they will be able to harness the tactical rage of this phenomenon to the faux outrage of political theatrics.”

And that may be so.

It’s certainly true that the populist Conservative leadership contender and bitcoin enthusiast Pierre Poilievre does sometimes give the impression of being an eccentric who wasted too much of his youth playing with Buzz Lightyear action figures in his room.

But it’s also true that among the poll respondents inclined to believe what is possibly the craziest proposition Abacus canvassed for — the notion that Microsoft uber-zillionaire Bill Gates has been using microchips to track people and their behaviour — New Democrats were only two percentage points behind Poilievre fanciers: 11 per cent as opposed to 13 per cent.

As for the white supremacist “Great Replacement” imbecility, the idea is that there’s a plot, often attributed to the Jews, to orchestrate immigration policies in such a way as to monkeywrench a country’s demographics in order to replace “white” people with Muslims, specifically, or with people of colour, generally.

The Abacus poll doesn’t provide all that much insight into how many poll respondents, let alone Canadians, actually believe this drivel. If you drill down below the way the poll findings have been reported and then dig below the way Abacus described its findings to the bedrock of the poll question itself, you might be relieved to discover that it isn’t quite time yet to head for the hills to build yourself a compound to defend yourself against millions of marauding racist zombies.

Abacus described its findings this way: Some 37 per cent of Canadians (11 million people) think “there is a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Canadians with immigrants who agree with their political views. This is an articulation of what is commonly referred to as replacement theory.”

Set aside the fact that this isn’t so much an “articulation” of any theory, exactly, and the fact that the lunatic “replacement theory” doesn’t quite match the Abacus description of it. Last month, Statistic Canada reported this simple fact: “Canada is a low-fertility country, or below the no-migration population replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.” The Abacus poll didn’t ask about “white” people, but rather “native-born” Canadians. And native-born Canadians are retiring in huge numbers. Boomers are exiting the job market in droves.

It’s data of this kind that the Trudeau government has quite openly factored into its Immigration Levels Plan, which sets out the objective of drawing 430,000 newcomers to Canada each year. This is the highest level of immigration in Canadian history, and a higher immigration rate than any other G7 country. Only a small minority of those immigrants are coming from Europe, so they’re not, you know, “white” people. And anyone who hasn’t noticed that it has been a custom of the Liberal Party to jimmy with immigration so as to replenish its urban vote banks hasn’t been paying attention to the way things are done in Canada. The Conservatives do it too, but they’re just not very good at it.

The Abacus poll findings are perfectly consistent with a series of polls of its own and of other polling outfits that show Canadians are becoming deeply distrustful of politicians, government institutions and the news media. The world is in a state of upheaval to an extent unparalleled in decades. Overseas there’s war and looming famine in Central Asia and Africa, and here in Canada you have to be rich to be poor these days, especially when it comes to housing. Canada’s economy is a house of cards that’s increasingly dependent upon high immigration levels.

Canada’s “native-born” population can’t replace itself. Just one reason is that you have to be quite well-to-do to raise a family nowadays, and you can’t raise a family in a 600-square-foot, $600,000 condo. It’s no wonder that nostalgia is so commonplace. So is the sentiment that we’re all being dragged by forces we can’t control into a maelstrom of inhospitable, culturally fractured bedlam. People have every right to look at the rich and famous of the World Economic Forum, for instance — the object of quite a few silly conspiracy theories — with utter contempt.

But millions of Canadians are not setting out across the landscape in roaming hordes of racist zombies. That’s the good news.

These days, we should take the good news wherever we can find it.

Source: Glavin: Good news! Canada is not being overrun by racist zombie hordes

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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