Why race and immigration are a gathering storm in Canadian politics: Glavin; Could all the parties just cool the rhetoric on racism and immigration? Cardozo

Two good columns on the politics and perils of immigration as an election battleground. Starting with Terry Glavin dissecting some of the recent polling data along with some good thoughtful commentary by Frank Graves of Ekos:

Going by quite a few headlines, commentaries and social media hot-takes making the rounds these days, you’d never know it, but Canadians are not working themselves up into a lather about immigrants or people of colour. We’re not suddenly becoming mean to refugees. There is no surge in bloody-minded racial bigotry arising among ordinary Canadians, and there’s no evidence for any dramatic spike in the numbers of Canadians who don’t like non-whites coming to this country.

That’s the good news.

Some politicians continue to blow their vulgar anti-immigrant dog-whistles, and some make partisan mischief by whatever means seem plausible enough to make their adversaries look bad. But when it comes to immigrants and refugees, Canadians in general tend to be a lot less excitable or inclined to racism than is convenient to certain strangely popular narratives at the moment.

It’s true that having once exerted themselves to out-compete the Opposition in their efforts to show mercy to Syrian refugees, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are pulling off a complete U-turn on the alleged “asylum-shopping” of refugee claimants. They’ve tucked away a series of amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in an omnibus budget implementation bill that would seriously impair the access of some refugees to a full and fair hearing of their claims. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has moved to eliminate funding for refugee and immigration aid law services.

At the fringes, hate crimes are up, and white-nationalist delirium is becoming fashionable among a creepy subset of far-right and friendless unemployable young men. It would be easy to misread the public mood. But the public mood is not taking any dramatic turns for the worse.

Nonetheless, something new and alarming is definitely happening in Canadian public opinion, says Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates. EKOS has been annually tracking Canadian attitudes about immigration since the 1990s, and you don’t have to drill down very deep into the latest EKOS data to see it. It’s right there in the fine tuning of the findings the firm released last week.

The bad news is that for the first time since EKOS began its tracking in the 1990s, dyspepsia about the pace of immigration has coalesced with resentments about the rate of non-white newcomers to Canada. And that bloc of public opinion is consolidating for the first time behind a single political party—Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives.

This is happening whether Scheer’s Conservatives want it or not. Whether or not voters with unfavourable and in some cases decidedly unseemly views about Canada’s current immigration policies are being actively drawn to the Conservatives, or are simply being repelled by the annoying, not-racist-like-you histrionics of the Liberals, something unprecedented is happening.

The EKOS poll finds that roughly 40 per cent of Canadians harbour an unfavourable view of both the pace of immigration and the proportion of “visible minority” people among immigrants. Among the EKOS poll respondents who said there were too many non-whites among Canada’s newly-arrived immigrants, 69 per cent identified as Conservatives, while only 15 percent identified as Liberals. As NDP and Green voters, 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively, said the same.

The reason this is so dangerous is that the conflation of immigration policy with race is threatening to determine the way Canadians vote. It doesn’t matter which party benefits from this in the short run. It’s bad news all round. It’s the marker of what could be a descent into the same debilitating authoritarian-populist abyss into which the United States and much of Europe has fallen, Graves told me. “The inevitable result is a partisan polarization into two irreconcilable camps.”

It’s bad enough that the Scheer’s Conservatives have allowed these tendencies to become normalized among the party’s supporters, Graves said. What’s just as bad is a tendency among Liberals and the liberal-left generally to conflate genuine concerns people might have about refugees, or about how Canada’s demographics are changing, with the crudest xenophobia and the lowest types of racism.

“It doesn’t help. The moral critique, calling people out as Nazis or racists, and painting large portions of the population with this kind of inflammatory language, it’s really not helping. It makes things worse,” Graves said. That’s the way things went in the United States, and the result was the last thing either liberals or traditional conservatives wanted—the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. “The Americans don’t have anything to teach us,” Graves said.

“We have largely been inoculated from the vicious debates that have torn the United States and a lot of Europe apart. That’s why I’m so troubled to see this informing voters’ choice in Canada.”

It’s perfectly reasonable to conclude, for instance, that Trudeau was dead wrong to insist that there was no “crisis” involved his government’s handling of the roughly 40,000 irregular refugee claimants who have walked across the border since early 2017. By last August, two-thirds of Canadians in an Angus Reid poll said “crisis” was a perfectly suitable description. More than half the respondents who said so were Liberals.

Team Trudeau found itself in a similar predicament two years ago during the fractious House of Commons debates surrounding M-103, the Liberals’ proposed resolution to establish a committee inquiry into the spectre of “more than one million Canadians who suffer because of Islamophobia, who are victimized on a daily basis.” Awkardly, a CBC-Environics poll and a CBC-Angus Reid Institute poll were in hand that painted quite a different picture. While 68 per cent of Canadians said minorities should work harder to “fit in” to Canadian culture, the same view was offered by 57 per cent of Muslim respondents. Only nine per cent of the Muslims surveyed identified discrimination as a factor that made them uncomfortable living in Canada—a third said the worst thing was all the snow. A follow-up Angus Reid poll found that 33 per cent of respondents who opposed the Islamophobia motion were Liberal supporters.

Neither is there anything louche in the proposition that Trudeau was just the tiniest bit hypocritical to dispatch Border Security Minister Bill Blair with instructions to attempt a renegotiation of the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States in hopes of shutting down the border-crossing upsurge—after making ugly accusations about xenophobia and hysterics among the Conservatives who’d been urging him to do that very thing, all along.

Still, Trudeau is dead right to say, as he has been saying quite a lot at his round of town halls lately, that Canadians remain mostly “positively inclined” towards immigration and towards Canada’s immigration policies. More importantly, Trudeau has pointed out that Canadians must have confidence that they are in control of immigration, that immigration is managed. It’s the loss of control, a sense of a lost sovereignty, that has fuelled far-right populism from Brexit in the United Kingdom to the Make America Great Again hyperventilation in the United States.

The EKOS poll finding that roughly 40 per cent of Canadians think too many immigrants are allowed into the country every year isn’t even especially newsworthy. Last December, an Ipsos poll found nearly half of its respondents agreed, at least somewhat, that immigration is changing Canada in ways they didn’t like, and at least four in ten agreed “too many” immigrants were coming to Canada. In the EKOS poll trend lines over time, the proportion of Canadians who hold that view is not growing. It’s shrinking. More than 60 per cent of the annual EKOS poll respondents held to a “too many immigrants” view in the 1990s. The percentage wobbled on a downward trajectory to 2005, then wavered up towards 50 percent, and dropped down to 40 per cent again this year.

Canadians who say there are “too many visible minorities” among immigrants have always been fewer in number than the “too many immigrants” respondents, and the trajectory of that opinion bloc has similarly tracked downward over the years. But from a low of 30 per cent in 2005, the EKOS poll respondents who say there are “too many visible minorities” among immigrants has climbed back up to meet the “too many immigrants” response, at 39.9 per cent in the latest EKOS poll.

This is dangerous. Opposition to immigration is no longer driven by more easily remediable anxieties, ill-informed or not, that Canada’s high pace of immigration is bad for jobs, or housing costs, or community stability, or stresses on public services. About 300,000 people settle in Canada every year, and Ottawa wants to see the number rise to 350,000 by 2021. That’s a small number compared to Canada’s population of nearly 38 million. But roughly one in five Canadians is foreign-born—the highest proportion of any G7 country—and most immigrants since 2001 have not been “white.” They come mainly from Asia and the Middle East. About one in five Canadian citizens now falls into the Census Canada “visible minority” category.

Still, the EKOS poll does not tell anything like a straightforward story of white people with an attitude problem about non-white newcomers. Non-white Canadians appear even more likely than most Canadians to say there are too many non-white immigrants coming to Canada. While 39.9 percent of respondents overall said there were too many “visible minorities” among Canada’s newly arriving immigrants, the percentage of “visible minority” respondents who agreed with the statement in the EKOS poll was 42.8 per cent.

Xenophobia, racism and divisive rhetoric about immigration is something that Canada’s political leaders should take extremely seriously. But the Liberal government has occasionally and quite casually attributed those lurid motives to Conservative and popular alarms over the rapid rise since 2017 in the number of “irregular” border-crossing by asylum claimants. About half the claimants have been from Nigeria and Haiti, and the overall number of border-crossers is now declining. Racists shouted as loudly as they ever do about this, but as for widespread public concerns that the border-crossers were not genuine refugees, that wasn’t necessarily a judgment rooted in racism or xenophobia. It turns out that less than half the border-crossers’ claims that have been finalized so far have been accepted; about 40 per cent were rejected and the balance were abandoned or withdrawn.

As is necessary in any deep dive into an opinion poll’s findings, it’s worthwhile to look closely at its margins of error. The EKOS poll random sample of 1,045 Canadians comes with an error margin of plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20. And when you get down into the weeds of respondent subcategories—Conservative voters, Liberal voters, visible-minority respondents and so on—the margin of error can increase quite dramatically.

But when you weigh the data statistically across the board to reflect the composition of Canada’s population, as EKOS does, you get a pretty clear picture of what people think. And because “visible minority” is becoming an increasingly obtuse category as Canada’s population grows more ethnically and racially diverse, EKOS conducted some experimental testing, and it showed that the term “non-white” produces the same results.

But getting back to some good news that similarly upsets the usual “narrative” apple carts, last month another opinion poll, this one a global survey by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., found that ordinary Canadians have the most favourable view of immigrants among the world’s 18 highest immigrant-taking countries. Canadian respondents were more likely than anyone else to say immigration is a public good. Canadians were the least likely to identify immigration as a burden, or a source of crime, or a risk of terrorism.

Importantly, Canada turns out to be less polarized on the issue of immigration than any of the other countries surveyed, too, the Pew Center concluded. Canada’s conservatives are more upbeat about immigration than “left-wing” opinion in several of the other countries surveyed. Only 27 per cent of Canadian respondents said immigrants were a liability or that immigrants took away jobs, and on the bright side, 68 per cent of Canadian respondents said immigrants make Canada stronger.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s own annual tracking survey, carried out last August and September, produced results fairly similar to the EKOS poll. The federal survey benefited from a much larger sample size—2,800 respondents, with an error margin of plus or minus 1.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20. And it adds a couple of insights consistent with the EKOS findings.

Canadians who say immigration rates are too high do not appear to hold that disfavourable view solely on account of some mistaken belief that immigration rates are higher than they actually are. When told that the actual number of immigrants coming to Canada every year was 300,000, the proportion of respondents who said there were “too many” immigrants jumped from 28 per cent to 37 per cent—a figure close to the 39.9 per cent in the EKOS findings.

While the EKOS poll found that visible-minority Canadians are oddly more likely than Canadians in general to say there are “too many” visible-minority immigrants coming to Canada, the federal tracking survey found a similar irony. Forty-one percent of third-generation Canadians said that 300,000 immigrants a year was too many, but 15 per cent of recently-arrived Canadians, even—immigrants who have lived in Canada for less than five years—said they felt the same way. But overall, roughly half of the federal tracking survey respondents said Canada’s immigration levels were just about right.

Andrew Griffith, former director general of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, and the author of Multiculturalism in Canada: Evidence and Anecdote, says that for all the uproars and controversies, Canada is still doing well as an experiment in multiculturalism.

The country maintains a generous immigration policy and a reasonably generous refugee policy, and that should not be expected to change without an enormous upheaval. Canadian public opinion on these matters is a fairly steady-state phenomenon. About a third are enthusiasts, about a third are sufficiently content, and a final third have serious reservations.

But that last third is not a homogeneous constituency of irredeemable bigots. If you want the surprisingly successful Canadian experiment to continue, you can’t corral that constituency into the same roped-off quarantine area where actually-existing racists and alarmists properly belong. They’ll all just stew in their own juices.

“People are far too quick to whip out the racism card when it serves their interests,” Griffth said. “But you can’t write off a third of the population. Those people are the people you have to engage with.”

Source: Why race and immigration are a gathering storm in Canadian politics

Andrew Cardozo, of the Pearson Centre, offers some good advice to both sides:

White supremacists. Islamophobia. Systemic racism. Racialized people. Irregular entrants.

These are hot words on Parliament Hill these days. These are all terms that identify problems facing Canadian social cohesion and are often discussed without a common understanding.

Discussion around race and racism are delicate at the best of times, but when they get hotter and more serious it gets harder to have a discussion. Add politics and it’s just not a good mix.

It is fair to say that today the activists who work to combat racism are getting further and further from those who have concerns about the changing nature of our society and the changing power balances.

Critical race theory is an area that has been attracting increased analysis and debate. To put it very generally it is the academic field of research that examines racism. This field has developed exponentially in the last few decades, and with each passing phase of advancement, there is a new terminology; where the old terminology can be seen as both inaccurate and often offensive. An example is the change in terminology to describe African Americans or First Nations peoples.

And as this has grown, so has the resistance to it.

Research on racism in recent years has found that four groups are particularly affected by hardcore racists—a phenomenon that is both uniquely Canadian, in some ways, and universal in others.

The four groups are Indigenous peoples, African-Canadians, Jews, and Muslims. Many others face discrimination to varying degrees too.

Indigenous peoples are coming into a new reality and self-awareness. The First Peoples of this land are finally being recognized for their rights in a manner that has always been enshrined in the Canadian Constitution but was never taught in school or practised by governments. So today when pipelines are delayed or halted, there is a new conflict of values which was just ignored in the past.

But the racism they have faced covers everything from state-imposed colonialism, on-reserve housing, and residential schools, to troubled police relations, and child welfare systems that are hugely inappropriate. They also face simple old-fashioned racism from some members of the public, going from ill-informed stereotypes to name calling and occasional violence.

All this while the Indigenous population is the fastest growing group in Canada with more than 50 per cent of the population under 25 years old, and a growing sense of confidence and assertion of their rightful and constitutional place in Canada.

The movement of peoples in the world has been growing significantly in recent decades, and a large part of this is non-white people moving to predominantly white countries (although there are significant movements among non-white people too, think of the Syrian and the Rohingya refugees and their neighbouring countries).

The black community is both very old, dating back to the Loyalists on the East Coast to new arrivals from the Caribbean and Africa. The racism faced here is both of the everyday name-calling variety, to job discrimination and troubled relations with police that has an uncanny resemblance to that faced by African Americans south of the border.

Their contributions are significant in many sectors including medicine and nursing, education, small business and labour, and increasingly in politics. For example, Rawlson King was the most recent addition to Ottawa City Council through a byelection (making him the city’s first-ever black councillor), adding to the more than 50 African Canadians who have served at all levels of government.

Anti-semitism goes back to the time of Jesus Christ if not before, and while there is little questioning of the contribution of Jews to our society, this racism is of a variety that either has its strength in neo-Nazi movements, which are growing and becoming more strident and open, or to politics of the Middle East, where opposition to Israel can get conflated with anti-Jewish sentiment and certainly anti-Jewish movements. Anti-Semitic violence at synagogues for example is prevalent and threatening.

Muslim immigration to Canada has increased significantly and they are among the fastest growing religious groups in Canada. This is happening in a geopolitical context where there are significant terrorist movements who proclaim their work to be in the name of Islam. While Canadian Muslims have little or nothing to do with those groups and condemn the violence, it is a dark cloud that bhangs over their heads. The coincidental growing traditionalism, most evident in head coverings of some Muslim women, is a movement which is separate, but not unrelated, as some feel increasingly isolated and/or need to assert their cultural particularities. Some Canadians feel threatened or uncomfortable with this as there is opposition to traditional or religious garments of Jews, Sikhs, and Indigenous peoples. The contribution of Muslims in Canada tells an interesting story, as their numbers grow in major professions including medicine, law, politics, business, academia, entertainment, and even the NHL.

So we have a third Quebec government trying to bring in a law that limits religious symbols, a project that can never be trouble free.

A new Ekos poll which finds that 42 per cent of Canadians feel there are too many non-white immigrants to Canada is noteworthy, and more significant is that that number is at 71 per cent among Conservative voters, 34 per cent among Greens, 28 per cent among New Democrats and 19 per cent among Liberals. The high numbers on resistance to non-white immigration is worrisome, but also explains why Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pursue their particular lines of argument these days.

It would be terribly facile and unhelpful for Conservative opponents to brand them all negatively. Even 19 per cent is high, as is the 42 per cent average for Canadians.

On the one hand, the Conservatives should consider toning down their messaging—it usually doesn’t work well for any one, not even electorally. And for any progressive purists—don’t allow a “basket of deplorables” moment in Canada. It didn’t work out well for Hillary Clinton and it won’t work out well for Liberals here either.

Rather than finger-pointing and name-calling, it would be better for the country, as a whole, to calm the rhetoric on all sides.

And to the anti-racism activists, it is important to make the movement more accessible rather than less. Terminology needs to be easier to use and less exclusive. Every community, whether they be environmentalists, stock brokers or doctors, have a constantly evolving set of terms and acronyms that have the effect of excluding others. Now is not the time to insist the exact right and latest jargon, but rather to tone down the rhetoric.

All sides have a choice: politicize and drive wedges or lower the temperature and bring people together. Weaponize the debate or bring more people on to the side of combating division, supremacy, and phobias. It’s that simple.

Pollsters point to rising public racism, Quebec seats to explain Liberals’ U-turn on refugees

More takes on the change in approach:

The Liberal government’s move to toughen up the refugee system is a signal to voters that fairness is the party’s priority when it comes to foreigners entering the country, says a former Liberal insider, and it could be part of an attempt to outmanoeuvre the Bloc Québécois, or win over ex-Liberal voters who don’t want more people of colour in Canada, say pollsters.

The government wants to send a message to Canadians that migrants who cross the border between official points of entry to make a refugee claim will be treated the same as those who make a claim at a recognized entry point, said John Delacourt, a vice-president at Ensight Canada and former director of communications in the Liberal Research Bureau.

“That is the line I think that ultimately resonates here. ‘There will be no privileged treatment; it will be fair for everybody,’” said Mr. Delacourt.

Thus far, would-be refugees have been able to exploit a loophole in Canada’s international commitments, and make a claim for refugee status after crossing the border between official points of entry from the United States, while those who try to claim status at official border crossings are generally immediately rejected under the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., which says a person seeking refugee protection has to do it at the first safe country they reach.

The government has been defending itself from near-constant criticism from the Conservative opposition for the past two years over its handling of the loophole, and the flow of thousands of migrants into Canada because of it. Those migrants have been given security, health, and safety checks by Canadian officials, then allowed to proceed into Canada’s urban centres to pursue a refugee claim.

Statistics from the Immigration and Refugee Board show that 38,646 claims were made by “irregular” border crossers between February 2017 and December 2018. Only 9,330 have been dealt with so far by the IRB, which has accepted a little less than half of them as valid claims, while the other half were rejected, withdrawn, or abandoned.

The government stick-handled the issue for nearly two years without major changes to the policy or legal framework, but changed tack with its 2019 budget last month and budget implementation bill earlier this month, which will block asylum seekers from making a refugee claim in Canada if they have already had a claim rejected in another country that Canada deems safe, including the U.S., a practice Border Security Minister Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest, Ont.) called “asylum shopping.”

The 2019 budget described the change as an effort to “better manage, discourage, and prevent irregular migration.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) told reporters April 10 that his government wants to ensure Canadians have “confidence in our asylum system, our refugee system” when asked about the changes. He said the change to government policy was a response to an increase in refugee claimants caused by global instability.

The government has also moved to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S. Canada wants to change the pact to close the loophole surrounding claims at non-official points of entry.

Mr. Trudeau’s government made international headlines in 2015 when it agreed to welcome 25,000 Syrians fleeing war in their country within a span of months. The sudden influx of border-crossers from the United States, however—many of them originating in Haiti and Nigeria—has put his government on the defensive over refugee policy since early 2017.

Canadian attitudes toward migrants have shifted dramatically over the past few years, said pollster Frank Graves, the president of Ekos Research.

“What we’re seeing in the public is that the attitudes to immigration, and particularly to things like visible-minority immigration, are becoming incredibly polarized in ways that they were not in the past,” he said.

“Attitudes toward immigration broadly, which includes refugees and asylum seekers, is now becoming a sorting variable…which is frankly kind of unprecedented in Canadian political history. We don’t usually make ballot-booth decisions on the basis of immigration policy.”

Mr. Graves said Ekos has done analysis that suggested to him that Liberal policies on refugees and immigrants had driven people who voted Liberal in 2015 to begin supporting the Conservative Party—specifically some non-university-educated, working-class males who believe “too many” of the immigrants who come to Canada are visible minorities.

“That view is shifting voters in ways that it never has before,” he said.

Nearly 40 per cent of respondents to an Ekos telephone poll of 1,045 Canadian adults between April 3 and 11 said that “too many” of the immigrants coming to Canada were visible minorities. Just shy of 43 per cent said an “about right” share of immigrants were visible minorities, while 11.5 per cent said “too few.”

Former Liberal immigration minister John McCallum reacted to Mr. Graves’ polling figures on Twitter April 13, writing, “Such a dangerous shift from when I was managing Syrian refugees and challenge was we couldn’t bring them in fast enough to satisfy sponsors. Only 3 years ago!”

Of those who said “too many” immigrants were racialized people, nearly 69 per cent identified as Conservative supporters, versus 15.2 per cent for the Liberal Party, and 27 per cent for the NDP. The margin for error for the poll itself was plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20, but the margins of error for the party-identification figures for that specific question were higher—between seven and 14 per cent—because the sample size shrinks when respondents are divided into smaller groups.

Some Canadians have been waiting years for their parents or grandparents to be allowed to come to Canada through the immigration system, but Canadians often conflate refugee and immigration issues, though they are considered as separate streams of migrants by the government, said Mr. Delacourt, who also worked as a staffer in the office of former Liberal immigration minister Joe Volpe in the early 2000s.

“They’re very different streams, and anybody who actually has a strong sense of policy in this area will tell you, ‘That’s mixing apples and oranges,’ in terms of the priorities and planning. But to Canadians, the optics … people do not see individual streams here. They see a strain on resources,” Mr. Delacourt said.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair has said the government’s move to block asylum seekers from making a refugee claim in Canada if they have already had a claim rejected in another country that Canada deems safe is meant to stop ‘asylum shopping.’ The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

“I think part of the government’s course correction on this is about addressing this larger perspective on what’s ultimately fair. Of course, they’re not going to sacrifice what’s fair for individuals who are coming across, case by case. Of course everyone is going to get all the protection one deserves. But by the same token, there is this real concern that the optics of irregular migration creating a strain on resources. It’s not where a government going into an election campaign is going to think it’s a good idea,” said Mr. Delacourt.

The Liberals are likely worried about damage done by the spread of false information or misinformation about their work on the refugee file during the upcoming campaign, said Mr. Delacourt, pointing to a September report by the Canadian International Council that said there was “mounting evidence” of Russian troll accounts on social media spreading disinformation about positions on asylum seekers and refugees in Canadian politics.

The Liberal decision to get tougher on refugee policy could also be motivated by expected battles with the Bloc Québécois in smaller towns, cities, and rural areas in Quebec in the upcoming election, said pollster Greg Lyle, the president of Innovative Research.

More than half of Canadian adults surveyed in an Innovative poll in September said the government was “not aggressive enough” in its approach to immigrants crossing into Canada illegally, while six per cent said it was being “too aggressive,” 26 per cent said it was “acting appropriately,” and 15 per cent said they didn’t know.

The online poll surveyed 2,410 adult Canadians who were part of online research panels between Sept. 27 and Oct. 1. Online polls are not considered truly random, so a margin of error for the poll can’t be calculated.

Forty per cent of Liberal Party supporters said the government was not being aggressive enough on that issue, according to the poll, and 57 per cent of respondents in Quebec. “That, to me, is the big deal,” said Mr. Lyle.

More than 70 per cent of those surveyed said that “the issue of immigrants who are crossing into Canada illegally right now” was a serious problem, including 65 per cent of Liberal supporters, and 81 per cent of respondents in Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois is doing well in the regions of the province, said Mr. Lyle, and will differentiate itself from the Grits by opposing oil and gas pipelines, and contrasting its position with the Liberal government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Bloc will also likely take a more “nationalist” approach to immigration policy, he said.

“It’s a very critical area for the Liberals to do well in. Moving on the migrant issue…shuts down that vulnerability.”

Source: Pollsters point to rising public racism, Quebec seats to explain Liberals …

On racism, elections and the media: Paul Adams

Good commentary on the need for more informed media discussion of the substantive issues, and less discussion of the political aspects:

Other than climate change, which is an existential threat to all of humankind, arguably the biggest threat to Western democracies is racism. Politically, liberal democracy is built on the idea of fundamental human equality and the further it strays from that precept the less it is recognizably democratic. Sociologically, societies that are racially complex but racially divided by law or harsh custom are unhappy places where violence lurks and often explodes.

In the United States, the president is the most openly racist in at least a century. He came to political prominence as an Obama birther, launched his campaign smearing Mexicans as rapists, has separated brown mothers from their brown children as a matter of policy and is seemingly intent on winning another minority victory in 2020 by stoking the flames of racial fear among white Americans. In the United Kingdom, a Brexit referendum victory driven in part by fears of outsiders is now also threatening the historic bonds that fasten England to both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Here in Canada, you do not even have to go to the issue of racist intent to see that Quebec’s Bill 21 — which would ban the wearing of religious symbols such as the turban, the hijab and the kippah for many public servants — would be racist in its effect, hitting mainly people of colour and Jews. And in the last few days, the pollster Frank Graves has released data suggesting that opposition to the immigration of visible minorities is rising in Canada.

At one level, this might not seem very different from the other controversial issues journalists cover as a matter of routine: economic inequality, tax levels, education spending and so on. However, I think it presents unusual challenges that the media may not be entirely prepared to cope with.

It is the conceit of modern mainstream journalism that it stands outside of ideology. It is neutral, balanced, objective. If someone wants higher taxes to fund social programs and someone else wants lower taxes to stimulate the economy, reporters quote both sides of a debate, excavate some relevant data, and leave it to the readers to decide the argument. This is a powerful idea and has some merit. Many of us consume the news to inform us as citizens and not to be told what to think or do.

On the other hand, it can lead to the laziest conjuring trick in the journalist’s kit: what is sometimes called false balance. For a couple of decades, this was most obviously a problem with the coverage of climate change. Even as the evidence of human-caused climate change grew and the scientific consensus became close to complete, many journalists ran back and forth, got quotes from credible scientists, balanced them with a quotes from increasingly isolated and eccentric, often industry-backed “climate skeptics,” threw in a little data and let the readers decide. And in this way they failed the journalist’s responsibility not just to be fair, but to be rooted in evidence (as indeed scientists should be). Only very recently has this trend been significantly corrected.

In the case of racism the challenge is further complicated by the way in which it is being metabolized politically. Frank Graves’ most interesting finding was not that opposition to non-white immigration has recently risen. In fact, as he points out, it has sometimes been this high in his data in the past. What’s most striking is the degree to which it has become a partisan issue. Just six years ago, roughly half of Conservative supporters said too many immigrants were visible minorities; today the figure is over two-thirds. Meanwhile, among Liberal supporters, the trend has been the opposite. Six years ago about a third of Liberals were concerned about visible-minority immigration. That figure has now fallen to less than one-in-seven.

The supporters of our two main parties are polarizing around the issue of race and we are in an election year.

I don’t think even his harshest critics would claim Andrew Scheer is a Trump-style racist. In the immediate aftermath of the New Zealand massacres a few weeks ago, his first reaction (or that of his staff) was to tweet out condolences, somehow neglecting to mention that the murders took place in a mosque and the victims were Muslims. After some hours of barracking for those omissions on social media, including from some prominent conservatives, he did a very un-Trump-like thing and issued a new statement that got it right.

Scheer does not appear to be personally racist, but he needs the votes of people who are. He is not a white nationalist, but he shared the “yellow vest” platform on Parliament Hill with Faith Goldy, who was let go by The Rebel for her sympathetic coverage of the anti-Semitic and anti-black Charlottesville demonstrations, has given an interview to the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, and who was recently bounced from Facebook — not an easy thing to accomplish — for her views. Let’s just say she is not the sort of person in whose company Preston Manning would have wanted to be seen when he was a party leader.

Naturally, the Trudeau Liberals, mired in political troubles of their own making, and with a political base that may be getting more liberal on race according to Graves’ numbers, is using this as a cudgel. Trudeau has taunted Scheer to denounce white supremacists. Scheer’s reaction has been rather delicate, denouncing the sin of white supremacy but appearing reticent to name the specific sinners.

The danger in all this is that it invites journalists to rely on another bit of professional sorcery: that is, converting any matter of substance into a political issue. Instead of trying to understand the place that race and racism has in our society, our discourse, our policy and our laws, we are tempted to convert it into a political spectator sport. At best, that means running back and forth between Trudeau and Scheer chronicling jabs and counterpunches. At worst, it means that any serious discussion of race and racism with be replaced with public disgust at “smears,” “name-calling” and “negative campaigning.”

We need much more journalistic work to understand the roots of more overt racial hostility in Canada, and their connection to economic conditions, patterns of immigration and embedded cultural impulses that may have been dormant or suppressed. We need to understand the role of the internet and social media culture. We need to distinguish between overt racists, unconscious racists, and those who are not actively racist themselves but who are willing to tolerate those who are. More than anything, we need to understand the experiences and perspectives of those who are the targets of racism.

We need to understand better how our political system has allowed people like Goldy to walk onto a political (and media) stage where not long ago they would have been unwelcome. We need to be careful about unthinkingly labelling Scheer a racist, but also to understand the political dynamics that are shaping his party, its policies and its rhetoric.

We also need to pry apart the Trudeau government’s rhetoric and its policies (most notably on refugees). We need to understand better why the Liberal party’s supporters have grown so quickly so much more liberal on race, and to what extent this is real and to what extent just an artifact of partisan polarization.

And finally, those of us in journalism need to examine our own role. Journalism should not be indifferent to the health of our democracy; when journalism is done well it is a pillar of democracy as well as dependent on its liberties to thrive. We are still far from the point where we have an open racist sitting and chiming in on the “At Issue” panel with Rosie, Andrew and Chantal. But Ann Coulter, the American commentator who sees non-white immigration as a form of genocide, has often been interviewed on Canadian television. Gavin McInnes, founder of the sometimes-violent “Proud Boys,” has appeared on the CBC News Network to defend a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq people in the 18th century as reasonable public policy for the time.

Racism raises complex journalistic issues that are not as simply solved as banning people from the airwaves. It may be that in the world of the internet and social media, journalists no longer have the ability they once did to police who inhabits the public square. They need to report on racism without fuelling it or giving it a platform. But with racism, as with climate change, journalists should not be confused about which side they are on.

Source: On racism, elections and the media

For tthe full Ekos report: click here

How Canadian populism is playing out in the Burnaby South byelection

Good coverage on the emerging role and tactics of the PPC along with Ekos pollster Frank Graves’ analysis of greater polarization among Canadians.

Ethic media is also picking up on the apparent attraction of some Chinese Canadians to the PPC (see the latest Diversity Votes — February By-elections: Matching Census Data with Ethnic Media Coverage (17-23 February 2019, last pre-election report):

Twenty minutes before the first Burnaby South byelection debate, a sudden influx of People’s Party of Canada supporters with shiny signs and newly minted pins filled all the remaining chairs in the room.

And they were ready to be heard, not just seen.

The following two debates — attended by roughly 100 people, on average — were dominated by this group’s grievances. They were louder and rowdier and far outnumbered the supporters of any other national party in the House of Commons.

The third debate descended into chaos when the topic of immigration arose, leading to finger-pointing and shrieking in the audience.

“Canadians first,” yelled several in the crowd, donning PPC pins. Roars from the crowd drowned out the candidates as others shouted “racist” and “fascist” in response.

This is one face of an increasingly visible populist movement in Canada. And experts say it’s not going anywhere any time soon. More and more, there is less common ground in what we consider to be Canadian values, and experts say the nation’s shift toward populism heralds a new chapter in Canada’s life. Political discourse is only expected to become more entrenched and vitriolic ahead of October’s general election.

Frank Graves is the president of Ottawa-based EKOS Research Associates. He’s been tracking what he calls “ordered populism” or what economists refer to as drawbridge-up thinking.

While populism can operate either on the left, right or even centre of the political spectrum, Graves said that is not what is emerging in Canada. Instead, it’s ordered populism which is bubbling up in the values of the right and far-right.

Its members are largely religious, have reservations about diversity, are deeply pessimistic about their economic future, are disdainful of media and government and are convinced that climate change matters far less than their own survival.

“What unifies populism is a dispute between the so-called pure people and the corrupt elite. And that is definitely what Trump, Brexit, Ford and the PPC is going after,” he told Star Vancouver.

Maxime Bernier, the leader of the PPC, is speaking a “far more authentic” version of what those in the ordered populist camp want to hear, Graves added.

“One of the big question marks for me (is) will that actually convert into impact in the next election?”

After a messy split with the Conservative Party last year following his loss in the leadership race, Bernier — an MP from Beauce, Que. and a former cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper era — announced the launch of the People’s Party of Canada, made official with Elections Canada this January. He’s since been touring the country.

Burnaby South’s Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson — a former Christian radio host, anti-abortion activist and vocal opponent to British Columbia’s student education plan on sexual orientation and gender fluidity — was one of his first picks to run as a candidate. Her support could be an early indicator of the PPC’s chances in the upcoming general election.

Tyler Thompson will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh — vying for his first seat in the House of Commons — Liberal Richard Lee, Conservative Jay Shin and independents Valentine Wu and Terry Grimwood on Monday in Burnaby South.

Byelections will also be held that day in York—Simcoe, Ont., a seat previously held by former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Van Loan, and in Outremont, Que. The latter riding was home to former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Each time Tyler Thompson said “Canadians first,” — which occurred multiple times at every debate — the crowd would swell into visceral cheers. Thompson directly appealed to prevalent anxieties in the riding about public safety as she repeatedly brought up the case of Marissa Shen, a 13-year-old Burnaby South girl who was murdered in the region. A Syrian refugee, who was employed in Canada and had family here, is the accused. Allegations are still being tested in court.

Despite common assumptions that the populist movement camp is dominated by disaffected white males, Thompson’s supporters in Burnaby South are composed of a majority of Chinese-Canadians. She told the Star that’s because of her strong roots in some of the community’s churches.

In an interview with the Star on Thursday, Bernier said his party is indeed populist — but a “smart populist party.”

“Usually when you are a populist politician, you appeal to the emotion of people. I’m not playing with their emotion. I’m playing with their intelligence,” he explained, claiming the PPC is the only party with solid policy platforms. “We are the People’s Party working for the people … and I am proud of that.”

People are finding less and less common ground when it comes to Canadian values — and that is certainly going to matter in the upcoming election, Graves said.

While politics are often fickle and ever-changing, values change at a glacially slow pace. For instance, at the turn of the century Canadians were more “open” when it came to ideological orientation — which Graves said is a terrific predictor of values — 50 per cent of Canadians agreed that they were neither to the right or the left.

But now, Graves said that number has dwindled down to 10 per cent.

“Everybody has picked a side,” Graves said. “You live in two incommensurable Canadas, just as there’s two incommensurable Americas. And U.K. And Ontario. And that’s a daunting challenge.”

Values exist in the cultural realm and provide “moral goalposts” on what people prefer society to look like. Unlike discussions of policy issues, debates on values are emotionally engaging which is why Graves estimates the “narrative” of the right is beginning to dominate.

And on the left, the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, there has yet to emerge a populist movement with an equally emotive narrative. While the right begins to have its own conversations about values, Graves said the “open values” of the centre and left remain consistent between Liberals, NDP, and Greens.

Members of this “open society” outlook favour diversity, immigration, trade and globalization, are optimistic about the future, guided by evidence-based policy and believe that climate change is of high priority.

And the gaps between the two groups could not be larger, Graves said.

Source: How Canadian populism is playing out in the Burnaby South byelection

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Interesting and relevant changes to how Canadians perceive attachment and belonging (Ekos more reliable than Leger’s web panel):

On a historic Remembrance Day, a century after the end of the First World War, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a Paris crowd that decaying trust in public institutions will lead citizens to look for easy answers “in populism, in nationalism, in closing borders, in shutting down trade, in xenophobia.”

The implication was clear: if nations turn in on themselves and treat outsiders as threats, we might again find ourselves in a bloody conflict with fronts all over the world.

But a series of surveys suggest the idea of being a nationalist, and nationalism in general, are viewed fairly positively by most Canadians.

What the data suggest is that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States, where the term is often linked with white-nationalist groups, and then with white supremacy and racism.

Rather, Canadians appear to have constructed their view of nationalism on the idea of feeling connected to our country and ensuring that others feel connected as well — even as we watch the term pilloried globally.

“It is used in different ways — when people are talking about the Trump nationalism, they would say (it’s) bad. But in Canada, they accept it because it is equated with certain communities and they see it as a way it’s helping vulnerable populations find their place in Canada,” said Kathy Brock, a political studies professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

“Canadians have just acclimatized to this dual view of nationalism.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, Canadians often reported feeling greater attachments to their particular communities or ethnic groups than they did to the country. In the intervening years, connection to country has strengthened while connection to community has faded, said Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates, a polling and market-research firm. The opposite has happened in Europe, he said.

Research also suggests Canadians’ attachments to their ethnic groups have weakened over the last 20 years in favour of an attachment to country, Graves said, even as census data shows the country’s population is becoming ever more diverse.

“We don’t have a common ethno-linguistic homogeneity that produces a definition of ‘the people.’ It’s more civic nationalism,” Graves said.

“In Canada, national identity has been created through a dialogue between citizens and the state and the public institutions — medicare, the Mounties, Parliament Hill. It isn’t as much steeped in history or common race and identity, which probably inoculates it from some of the more disturbing expressions of nationalism.”

Newly released survey data from the Association of Canadian Studies says that 60 per cent of respondents hold a somewhat or very positive view of nationalism, compared with about 45 per cent in the United States. The results were similar in both English and French Canada.

There also appears to be an association between Canadians’ views on nationalism and their views on multiculturalism.

“In contrast to the European idea of nationalism, having that ethnic component to it, most Canadians don’t see nationalism as ethnically driven. They see it more as a form of patriotism,” said Jack Jedwab, the association’s president. “It doesn’t intersect as much as it does in the European context with anti-immigrant sentiment, or a sentiment against diversity.”

The Leger Marketing survey of 1,519 Canadians on a web panel was conducted for the association the week of Nov. 12. Online surveys traditionally are not given a margin of error because they are not random and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

A day after his Nov. 11 comments, Trudeau was asked how he defined nationalism and where he saw it in Canada.

“In Canada, we’ve demonstrated many times that identities are complimentary,” he said. “I’m an extremely proud Quebecer, I’m an extremely proud Canadian and like most Canadians, they don’t see a contradiction in that.”

Experts say the more negative forms of nationalism are nevertheless simmering in Canada. Jedwab’s survey data suggest that respondents who have positive views of nationalism are somewhat more worried about immigration and security along the U.S. border than those who have negative views of nationalism.

Part of what fuelled U.S. President Donald Trump’s political rise, and his populist rhetoric, was financial worry — or what Graves described as the idea of the everyman versus the corrupt elites. Brock said Canada has thus far avoided similar concerns about class and finances, particularly coming out of the recession a decade ago, and a similar rise of nationalist rhetoric.

“Now, we’re facing some really serious economic challenges and if they come to pass, then we could see a different manifestation of this,” she said. “So I don’t think those (polling) figures are necessarily set in stone.”

Source: In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Canada is a tinderbox for populism. The 2019 election could spark it.

Frank Graves and Michael Valpy focus on the shifting views of millennial men, visible minorities as well as not visible minority, towards populism and the right. The 2019 election will provide a test of their thesis but certainly the Conservatives seem to mining this resentment in much of their messaging:

As Canadians, we sit atop the continent, watching as our neighbours slide into cultural civil war. It has become easy to just be appalled as America becomes riven, with social media and antagonistic rhetoric on both sides of the political spectrum erasing the middle ground. There are two Americas, incommensurably separated on the fundamental issues of the day: climate change, the economy, social issues like health and education, employment, the media, immigration in particular, and globalization and free trade.

We’ve learned more and more about the populism that has fuelled this complicated moment as the fracture in America races like wildfire throughout Western democracies. It is the biggest force reshaping democracy, our economies and public institutions. It is the product of economic despair, inequality, and yes, racism and xenophobia. It is an institutional blind spot, largely denied or ridiculed by the media, and by the more comfortable and educated portions of society.

It is very much alive in Canada. In fact, our populist explosion has already had its first bangs and is likely to have a major impact on next year’s federal election.

The shifts in the democratic world order over the last decade have increasingly prompted social scientists to discard the left-right political spectrum in favour of an “open-ordered axis,” or what The Economist calls drawbridge-down vs drawbridge-up thinking. The former are cosmopolitan-minded people, in favour of diversity, immigration, trade, and globalization, and who are optimistic about the future; they’re guided by reason and evidence-based policy, and believe that climate change is a dominant priority. Drawbridge-up people, with an “ordered” worldview, are largely parochial, and they have reservations about diversity, are deeply pessimistic about the economic future, believe more in moral certainty than reason and evidence, are disdainful of media, government and of scientific expertise, and are convinced that climate change is trumped by the economy and their own survival. It’s ordered thinking that is metastasizing in Western societies, including Canada’s, especially among the political right. EKOS research from 2017 suggests about 30 to 40 per cent of adult Canadians are drawn to it.

Meanwhile, research over the last 10 years has found that Canada, like the United States, is turning into a society fissured along fault lines of education, class and gender. These are social chasms defined by the concentration of wealth at the top of society and, for everyone else, by economic pessimism and stagnation; by a comfortable feeling on one end of the societal teeter-totter, and a fear on the other end that a subscription to the middle-class dream might no longer be available.

Although there has been a recent uptick for the first time in 15 years, the portion of Canadians who self-identify as middle class since the turn of the century has declined from 70 per cent to 45 per cent, a stark number that mirrors America’s—signalling that Canadians have a deeply pessimistic view of their personal economic outlook. Only one in eight Canadians thinks they’re better off than a year ago. Only one in eight thinks the next generation will enjoy a better life. And EKOS finds that, by a margin of two to one, Canadians believe that if present trends with inequality continue, the country — this country! — will see violent class conflicts.

Ordered populism has already become an illusive, misunderstood theme in provincial elections in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Ontario. Indeed, Doug Ford and his Ontario Progressive Conservatives won thanks to a preponderance of working-class, male electoral support—but a closer examination of the vote shows that male millennials, against expectation, supported Ford in significant numbers and had a high turnout. Millennial women, meanwhile, preferred the New Democratic Party by a margin of 25 points, and the millennial women who didn’t vote NDP largely stayed home. Millennial men split their votes between the NDP and Progressive Conservatives, and they led females millennials by 10 points in turning out to cast ballots.

Survey evidence strongly suggests that these are young men angered by the economic realities they face, and they are hit the hardest by what is happening in Ontario’s economy. A joint study by United Way Toronto and York Region and Hamilton’s McMaster University on poverty and employment precarity in southern Ontario reports that only 44 per cent of millennials in the region — the heartbeat of Canada’s economy — have full-time, permanent jobs, that the majority have not found work that provides extended health benefits, pension plans, or employer-funded training, and that formerly high-paying blue-collar jobs there are rapidly vanishing. The lack of good jobs, coupled with the social catastrophe of affordable housing and the resulting need to delay family formation, is resulting in anxiety and depression that disproportionately affects millennial men—making them ideal targets for the appeals of ordered populism.

What is happening challenges the conventional view that the youngest adults of Canadian society—the millennials, now Canada’s largest electoral demographic—operate with roughly similar, progressive views and values.

Another assumption in need of challenging is the idea that Canada’s ordered populism, like its American counterpart, is a besieged white citadel. In fact, our northern brand is as much the choice of multicultural new Canadians as of white native-born Canada. A significant chunk of new Canadians, many of them non-white, indicate they will vote Conservative in next year’s federal election — even though 65 per cent of Conservative supporters told EKOS this year that Canada admits too many non-white immigrants. And while a majority of Canadians are open to immigration, the intensity of the opposition is red-hot, including in other parties: 20 per cent of New Democratic Party supporters and 13 per cent of Liberal supporters also believe too many non-white immigrants are entering the country..

There are two possible explanations for this: First, new Canadians may bring with them into the country strains of social conservatism that make them hostile to issues like same-sex marriage and what they see as immoral, too-liberal sex education, an inflammatory issue in Ontario over the past couple of years. Thus, what they see as an assault on their values may be more important than a party trying to appeal to voters who want fewer of them in the country.

Second, where neighbourhoods are ethnically homogeneous as many are around the core of Canadian cities—white, brown or otherwise—populism holds appeal. Where there’s more diversity, it doesn’t. As social scientists have discovered, communities which have the least contact with with minority groups are the most hostile to them.

The looming federal election could be a spark for all the populist tinder largely being ignored in Canada. In the 2015 federal election, voting differences by gender for all age groups were flat. Now the federal Conservatives hold a 17-point advantage among men from all age groups other than seniors —a huge change in three years. Federal Conservatives also hold an advantage over Liberals and New Democrats with voters who self-identify as working class, and the party has overwhelming support from non-university-educated Canadians, the group most likely to feel left behind by the disappearance of blue-collar industries.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper led a party supported by the economically comfortable. His successor, Andrew Scheer, leads a party of the economically unhappy, of the new economy’s losers, a base increasingly comfortable with raising the drawbridge even as the Liberal government announces Canada will admit an additional 40,000 immigrants by 2021, bringing the annual number of new, mostly non-white arrivals to 350,000. Any campaign rhetoric that confuses this new support with its old party will only exacerbate the anger—and for the angry to find comfort in populism’s temptations.

What we do know is that Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government, with its populist strains and its vague campaign promises, is what many angry young men voted for. Maybe they didn’t vote for its policies; maybe, in their anger, they just voted to burn the house down, even if the history of populist movements show they’ve rarely worked out.

We can try to understand why it’s happening. We can insist that governments tackle inequality and affordable housing. We can build a future that preserves progress for all of us but addresses the real injuries of those who have embraced populism, while also refusing to bend to their fear, anger and ignorance. But letting populism burn the house down benefits nobody—and we can’t just ignore the smell of gasoline in the air.

Source: Canada is a tinderbox for populism. The 2019 election could spark it.

The cautionary tale of Kellie Leitch: Stephen Maher on populism

Good reporting and analysis by Maher:

Still, there is no reason to be complacent.

Pollster Frank Graves, who recently completed a polling project for the Canadian Press to explore the prospects for northern populism, sees a shift in Canadian attitudes about the economy, immigration and trade that could provide an opening for someone like Leitch.

“I think Kouvalis was likely onto something in that this was a more resonant strategy,” Graves said Wednesday. “I think Kellie Leitch was mining a vein of this new ordered-populist outlook, which is expressing itself in the United Kingdom with Brexit and with Trump in the United States.”

Graves polled thousands of Canadians, putting them on a spectrum from open—pro-trade, with positive views on immigration—to ordered. He found a growing group of Canadians—particularly in southern Ontario—who are anxious about their economic prospects, hostile to the elite policy consensus, anxious about immigration and skeptical about the benefits of trade.

The highest scores were in Oshawa, Barrie, London, Hamilton and Windsor, places where many workers have had to leave traditional industrial jobs, much like the rust-belt voters who made Trump president.

The trend has reversed somewhat since 2015, when Justin Trudeau was elected, but Graves believes there is a significant constituency for a populist message, based mostly on economic pessimism. “It begins with economic despair but then mutates into fear of others, nativism, racism,” he says.

In 2002, 68 per cent of Canadians described themselves as middle class. By 2017, it had fallen as low as 43 per cent. Many people feel they are losing ground, and they are not convinced that the elites are looking out for their best interests.
“They say, quite rightly, this didn’t work for us,” says Graves. “We’re pissed off.”

But I don’t think that this means we can expect a Trump-style figure to arise in Canada. It’s hard to put together an anti-trade message that works in a country as dependent on exports as Canada is, and we are likely better at smoothly managing immigration than any other country in the world.

Ford, the most successful populist in recent Canadian history, was politically incorrect but he succeeded politically because he connected with non-white voters.

The Reform Party, which once flirted with anti-immigrant messages, abandoned those ideas and, after merging with the Progressive Conservatives, sent Jason Kenney around the country to connect with ethnic Canadians, a key part of their winning election strategy.

Conservatives who watched the party lose in 2015 after playing with divisive anti-Muslim rhetoric, do not think it is a winner at the ballot box. “For every vote you win that way, how many do you lose?” said one strategist.

There may come a day when anti-immigrant messages help someone like Leitch get ahead in Canadian politics, but her political career is a cautionary tale that ambitious would-be Trumps will ignore at their peril. In that sense, we should be grateful to her for her public service.

Source: The cautionary tale of Kellie Leitch

Canadians favour openness, but isolationism brews, [Ekos] poll finds

More polling data on the risks of populism in Canada:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heads to Washington Tuesday to further strengthen the ties between Canada and the U.S. just as a new poll suggests Canadians don’t want this country heading down the same path as its southern neighbour.

But the results of the Ekos-Canadian Press survey don’t necessarily mean Canadians’ points of view are completely at odds with those who voted U.S. President Donald Trump into office, said Ekos president Frank Graves.

Ekos and the Canadian Press surveyed 4,839 Canadians via telephone between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1 as part of an ongoing effort to understand whether the same drivers exist in Canada as those behind populist movements supporting a more isolationist viewpoint around the world.

The results suggest Canada favours a more open approach – 60 per cent of those asked don’t want a “Canada First” foreign policy that mirrors the “America First” rallying cry that put Trump in office. Eighty per cent of those surveyed also disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, and 52 per cent want to see Canada become less like the U.S.

“Canada is clearly pivoting open, you can make the case with some of the data on that,” said Graves.

“But if you look at more of the data, I’m not so sure. It’s not that clear.”

The data also suggests 22 per cent of those surveyed think Canada ought to become more isolated, a marked increase after years of the number remaining relatively flat.

Also, among those surveyed 37 per cent think Canada’s immigration policy admits too many visible minorities. Twenty-nine per cent said they’ve experienced an incident of racism in the last month, and 33 per cent said they believe racism is becoming more common.

Ekos conducted the survey between Sept. 15 and Oct. 1, and the survey of the entire sample has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Different sample sizes were polled for each question to increase the number of questions researchers were able to ask.

Ekos has been tracking attitudes towards visible minority immigration for 25 years because it serves as a way to test levels of racial intolerance in Canada, said Graves.

The question of whether it is too high was put to 1,154 people during the recent survey, and the margin of error for those findings was 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Forty-two per cent believe the right amount are being let in and 15 per cent say too few.

Graves said the incidence of those believing it’s too high peaked before the last federal election and seems to be on the decline. It’s still lower than it was in the 1990s, he said.

The survey also probed for people’s perceptions of their economic future, and the results suggest Canadians are pretty pessimistic about the way things are going, despite economic indicators to the contrary.

That, coupled with the responses on how open this country ought to be, suggests the door can’t be closed on the argument that the same economic and social frustration that’s fuelled populism elsewhere doesn’t exist here, Graves said.

“There’s clearly a significant portion of Canada that’s not going to be convinced by the whole notion that an open welcoming Canada is the right answer to the problems that they see in their lives and the country.”

What that might mean for Canada’s political landscape remains to be seen. Sixty-four per cent of those who say Canada is letting in too many visible minorities identify as Conservative supporters; 62 per cent of those who think the number is just right are Liberal.

But Graves noted that studies done in the U.S. before and after that election revealed that people who were exhibiting racial intolerance and who voted for Trump said they would have voted Democrat if that party had put forward a more progressive platform.

Maintaining support for immigration ranks high on the Liberals’ list of priorities; in the coming weeks, they’re poised to unveil how many newcomers Canada will admit in 2018.

The Liberals are keen on immigration to foster economic growth, but complicating the issue is the ongoing arrival of asylum seekers at the border prompting criticism the government has lost control of the system.

In Britain, a survey after the surprising yes vote in a referendum on leaving the EU found that nearly 73 per cent of those who voted to leave were worried about immigration levels being too high.

The Ekos survey found 41 per cent feel too many immigrants are currently being let in overall. 

Source: Canadians favour openness, but isolationism brews, poll finds – Macleans.ca

ICYMI: Pollsters starting to see uptick in government work

Back to “committing sociology:”

The Trudeau government is reinvesting in public opinion research after it was virtually abandoned in the final years of the last Conservative government, though spending remains far below historical averages, according to veteran pollster Frank Graves.

“They’ve committed to doing more and more work…but it’s certainly nowhere near the levels it was historically both with the early stages of the Conservative government, certainly the Liberal government before that, and the Mulroney government before that,” he told The Hill Times.

Mr. Graves, founder and president of Ekos Research, said in an interview that the federal government has contracted more public opinion research work from his company since the election last fall. He linked this to the Liberals’ push to what they see as a return to evidence-based decision-making.

It pales in comparison, however, to what was seen in even the early stages of the Conservative government, he said.

The Harper government spent $31.2 million polling Canadians in the 2006-07 fiscal year before cutting back to $4.9-million in 2013-14, The Hill Times reported.

This stretch of scarce funding represented a “very unusual period,” Mr. Graves said, with the government conducting “virtually no research” of any significance during this span.

A 2003 auditor general’s report clocks in federal spending on public opinion research in 2002-03, under a previous Liberal government, at $23.7 million and $26.2 million the year before.

Mr. Graves partly attributed lagging “rust” in the bureaucratic channels in preventing the Liberals from revving up polling efforts back to previous levels.

“[It’s] going to take awhile for the bureaucracy to catch up and for the resource envelope [to expand] to do this in levels which would be more commensurate with the need and demand and express priority provided to this approach,” Mr. Graves said, noting that civil servants would also need to catch up with technological advancements in the field.

When reached, the Treasury Board Secretariat said it did not have up-to-date figures on spending on public opinion research or consultations specifically.

….Pollsters optimistic after lean decade

Stephen Kiar, CEO and founder of Ottawa-based public opinion and market research firm Phoenix SPI, said his company has also started to see an increase in public opinion research work in the last month or so.

After the election, the Liberals proceeded “cautiously and deliberately,” as new ministers learned their departments, relevant issues, mandates, and staff, among other considerations, he said.

As a result, Phoenix didn’t see any increase in work before the government’s fiscal year ended on March 31, though things picked up afterwards, Mr. Kiar said, as departments began putting together their research plans for the coming year, and seeking the necessary approvals.

“It appears that many departments have finished that planning process and are starting to engage research firms like ours for their projects,” he explained.

Mr. Kiar said it’s too early to compare spending to the previous Conservative government, which he argued “savaged” the public opinion research budget, while dramatically increasing the media monitoring budget.

Under the Trudeau Liberals, mandate letters to cabinet ministers noted a need for Canadians to see the government’s “willingness to listen” and for the government’s work to “be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians.”

Mr. Graves framed the period under the Conservatives that saw a “real paucity” of public opinion research as an “anomaly,” and partly blamed the scarcity of polling on what he saw as the government’s indifferent, sometimes “hostile” approach to empirical research.

Critics accused the Harper government of gutting funding for research and muzzling federal scientists. The Conservatives axed the mandatory long-form census in 2011, drawing strong criticism from a wide range of groups worried about the consequences the decision would have on the reliability on the vital data gleaned from the sweeping survey of Canadians.

The Liberals reinstated the long-form census as mandatory shortly after assuming office last November.

Kara Mitchelmore, CEO of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, an industry advocacy group, says numbers on polling activity for 2016 won’t be known until the end of the year, though she cited the re-establishment of the mandatory long-form census as leading to an increase in work.

“I can say anecdotally that with the re-instalment of the long form census, which MRIA strongly supports, there is an obvious noticeable increase in data collection roles,” she said in an emailed statement, noting that this will “trickle down” into more analyst roles, which is “great news” for the industry.

Mr. Graves said he expects funding for polling to eventually be restored to previous heights, though predicted it would only reach a quarter of the historic average this year.

That’s still “a lot better” than what we saw in the late stages of the previous government, he noted.

Source: The Hill Times

Trudeau’s Liberals more in line with Canadians’ fundamental values: Ekos Poll

Not surprising, as most polling during the election showed Conservative over-reach was off-side general Canadian values:

Graves said his polling found that after 10 years in power, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were facing “growing tension” between what they stood for and the basic values espoused by Canadians.

“I really believe that the election shifted from being an important election about the economy to a historic election about values.”

His conclusion is supported by another poll EKOS conducted Oct. 8-12. Canadians were asked to identify the “most important factor” that would determine their vote.

Forty-seven per cent said it would be the choice that best reflects their values; 33 per cent said it would be a party platform or ideas; 10 per cent said it would be the party leader; and eight per cent said it would be the local candidate.

Canadians were asked about the “choices” that best describe their “vision” of Canada. Sixty four per cent cited humanitarianism and development versus 23 per cent who opted for defence.

Sixty-three per cent favoured active federal government, while 23 per cent supported “minimal government.”

And 57 per cent favoured “reason and evidence” over the 24 per cent who stood by “moral certainty.”

“I think people got fed up,” Graves said of voters.

“They were really resentful to not only this indifference, but hostility, to science and to reason. It was a very strident anti-intellectualism and it didn’t fit well. It’s not where Canadians were.”

Source: Trudeau’s Liberals more in line with Canadians’ fundamental values: Poll | Ottawa Citizen