Chris Selley: Evidence of a nationwide immigrant backlash is flimsy at best

Good piece by Selley on the narrative.

I tend to place more weight on the Focus Canada long-term polling on attitudes towards immigration (key findings above), given their methodological soundness (not just because I am a fellow of the Environics Institute):

When Canadian media get hold of a bone, it can be awfully difficult to pry our jaws loose. The ongoing narrative that Canada is in the midst of a historic turn of public opinion against immigration, driven by malign political forces both at home and abroad, is a perfect example.

Readers likely caught wind of an Ekos poll released in April, which featured one genuinely remarkable finding: that 69 per cent of Conservative-supporting respondents felt too many visible minorities were immigrating to Canada. That was up from 47 per cent in 2013, whereas among Liberal supporters the number had fallen from 34 to 15 per cent.

Most reports included at least some of the important caveats: The total sample size of this poll was 507; the 2013 sample was six times larger. The number of Conservative supporters polled was just 180, with an attached margin of error of 7.3 per cent. But it certainly suggested public opinion may be polarizing on a specific immigration-related question.

Many reports went further, though. Huffington Post noted that as many respondents felt there were too many visible minority immigrants as felt there were too many immigrants overall. “That is something new,” it reported — “a pretty clear measure of racial discrimination,” Ekos pollster Frank Graves suggested, and perhaps evidence of “some contagion effect from the Trump show.”

Except it’s not new at all. The gap between “too many immigrants” and “too many visible-minority immigrants” in 2013 was all of three per cent, with a margin of error of 1.8 per cent; six years later it was one percent, with a margin of error of 4.2 per cent.

The Canadian Press, meanwhile, reported that “the share of people who think there are too many visible minorities in Canada is up ‘significantly.’” The poll showed nothing of the kind. The percentage expressing that opinion was actually down a point from a 2015 survey, long before Donald Trump threw American politics into chaos. Moreover, according to the Ekos data, the number of people who think there are too many immigrants, and the number who think there are too many visible-minority immigrants specifically, have plummeted in tandem since the pollster began reporting in the mid-90s.

In short, to the extent there’s anything historically new and negative here when it comes to tolerance for visible minorities, it seems to be confined within Conservative supporters and based on a single poll with a small sample size. And it’s certainly not unprecedented in recent times: An Angus Reid analysis released last year notes that the current public opinion environment looks much like it did in 1995, “the year that Jean Chrétien announced a ‘landing fee’ for new immigrants and a plan from the federal government to reduce in immigration overall.” No federal party leader save Maxime Bernier is promising anything of the sort.

There was nothing wrong with Graves’ poll; people were just overenthusiastic in interpreting it. Over the weekend, though, Léger Marketing and Canadian Press teamed up for a master class in how not to report public opinion. The headline finding, per CP: “63 per cent of respondents … said the government should prioritize limiting immigration levels because the country might be reaching a limit in its ability to integrate them. Just 37 per cent said the priority should be on growing immigration to meet the demands of Canada’s expanding economy.”

Bernier and other anti-immigration types turned cartwheels on social media. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen blamed Conservative leader Andrew Scheer for “taking a stance that is rooted in misinformation and conspiracy theories” — one that risked “a corrosive effect on our social fabric.”

A few problems, though: Léger’s respondents weren’t offered a chance to say they think immigration levels are just about right, which is always the most or second-most popular option. Nor were they allowed to support hiking immigration for reasons other than economic, or to support lowering it for reasons other than integration concerns. And anyway, it’s hardly controversial to “limit immigration” lest it exceed Canadian communities’ capacities. There’s a housing crisis on, in case you hadn’t noticed. Indeed, presumably that’s one of the reasons Hussen himself is “limiting immigration,” just like every other immigration minister does.

None of this is meant to rubbish the idea that an immigrant backlash could take hold in Canada. It certainly could. In recent years the Conservatives have pushed some new rhetorical boundaries, notably on “barbaric cultural practices” and the UN Global Migration Compact — and Bernier is miles further out there than that. Canadians have stayed remarkably calm while watching tens of thousands of people stream unchallenged across the U.S. border, and being called racist for expressing misgivings, but that mightn’t last forever. Anti-immigrant sentiment often correlates with economic downturns, and Alberta is in the midst of a whopper. Quebec has been on a nativist bender for more than a decade.

As yet, though, there simply isn’t the data to back up the claim of a backlash. And the last thing Canada needs, as Hussen and his fellow Liberal Cabinet ministers will ever-so-earnestly tell you, is a fact-free discussion about immigration.

Source: Chris Selley: Evidence of a nationwide immigrant backlash is flimsy at best

Le français décline comme langue seconde de préférence

While the overall support for bilingualism is strong, the growing lack of interest in learning a second language, whether French or another language, is worrisome in an era of greater mobility and globalization:

Si le bilinguisme officiel continue à bénéficier d’un très fort appui au pays, la préférence pour l’apprentissage du français comme langue seconde a décliné, surtout chez les jeunes. En fait, la simple idée qu’il importe de maîtriser une deuxième langue, peu importe laquelle, chute en popularité, au grand étonnement de certains experts.

Ce sont là quelques-unes des conclusions d’un sondage réalisé par six instituts de recherche, qui ont voulu tâter le pouls des Canadiens sur le concept de dualité linguistique, alors que l’on souligne en 2019 le 50e anniversaire de l’adoption de la première Loi sur les langues officielles.

La nouvelle encourageante, selon l’auteur du rapport, c’est que 82 % des répondants se disent en faveur de la politique du bilinguisme officiel au pays – un pourcentage qui se maintient depuis le début des années 2000, au fil des diverses enquêtes menées sur la question.

« L’opposition n’est pas en croissance. J’étais un peu trop jeune pour sonder en 1969, mais j’imagine que l’opposition aurait été supérieure. Et il y a plein de partis politiques qui aimeraient avoir l’appui de quatre personnes sur cinq », relève Andrew Parkin, du Mowat Center, en entrevue avec La Presse.

L’enthousiasme face à la dualité linguistique et à son enchâssement dans la législation fédérale, sous le gouvernement de Pierre Elliott Trudeau, est nettement moins présent en Alberta, où 3 personnes sur 10 ont affirmé désapprouver le fait que le Canada ait deux langues officielles.

Il n’y a là rien de « surprenant », souligne Stéphanie Chouinard, professeure adjointe au département de science politique du Collège militaire royal du Canada, à Kingston. « On sait qu’historiquement, l’Alberta, ç’a été un terreau fertile pour des partis qui avaient des positions assez fortes contre le bilinguisme, dont le Parti réformiste », explique-t-elle dans un entretien téléphonique.

UN AUTRE BILINGUISME

Pas de quoi tirer la sonnette d’alarme, donc. En revanche, un aspect du sondage fait allumer un voyant rouge au tableau de cette spécialiste en langues officielles : le déclin de la préférence pour le français comme langue seconde.

« On voit que les Canadiens croient encore au bilinguisme, mais que ce bilinguisme-là, ce n’est pas nécessairement le bilinguisme français-anglais. »

– Stéphanie Chouinard, professeure adjointe au département de science politique du Collège militaire royal du Canada

La tendance est plus particulièrement marquée chez les 18 à 34 ans, d’après l’enquête que les instituts de recherche rendront publique aujourd’hui. En 2001, parmi les anglophones hors Québec de cette tranche d’âge qui disaient juger important que leurs enfants apprennent une autre langue, 75 % déclaraient que ce devait être la langue de Molière. En 2019, cette proportion est passée à 61 %.

L’apprentissage de l’une ou l’autre des deux langues officielles – l’anglais pour les francophones (88 %) et le français pour les anglophones (67 %) – reste le choix de prédilection des répondants. Mais des langues autres que les officielles ont maintenant la cote. Chez les allophones, 18 % préconisent l’apprentissage de langues chinoises pour leurs enfants. Chez les anglophones, 6 % miseraient sur l’espagnol.

UNE LANGUE SUFFIT

Mais la trouvaille la plus étonnante du sondage est ailleurs, soit dans la réponse à la question : « Dans quelle mesure est-il important pour vous que vos enfants (si vous en avez) apprennent à parler une deuxième langue ? » Dans toutes les tranches d’âge, partout au pays, on a constaté un déclin – plus ou moins marqué selon la province – du nombre de personnes qui jugeaient l’aptitude très ou assez importante.

« On aurait pensé [dans un contexte de mondialisation] que les Canadiens jugeraient encore plus pertinent d’apprendre une autre langue. Il faut faire attention en interprétant les résultats : une majorité le pense toujours, mais la tendance est à l’inverse de ce que l’on prévoyait », fait remarquer Andrew Parkin.

Le politologue Rémi Léger ne peut malgré tout s’empêcher d’y voir quelque chose de préoccupant. « Sur la durée, sur 20, 30, 40 ans, est-ce que cette tendance va se maintenir ? », soulève en entrevue celui qui enseigne la science politique à l’Université Simon Fraser, en Colombie-Britannique.

D’autant plus que la tendance s’est inversée chez les répondants de 18 à 34 ans. « Alors que les Canadiens plus jeunes étaient auparavant plus susceptibles que les plus âgés à dire qu’il était important que leurs enfants apprennent une autre langue, ce n’est plus le cas », note-t-on dans le rapport. Ils étaient 86 % d’anglophones hors Québec à le penser en 2001, et voici qu’en 2019, ils ne sont plus que 69 %.

C’est un mystère qu’espère élucider Andrew Parkin dans une prochaine enquête.

Méthodologie et crédit

Le sondage a été réalisé en ligne dans les provinces et par téléphone dans les territoires auprès d’un échantillon représentatif de 5732 Canadiens âgés de 18 ans et plus entre le 14 décembre 2018 et le 16 janvier 2019. Le projet est une collaboration du Centre Mowat, de la Canada West Foundation, du Centre d’analyse politique – Constitution et fédéralisme, de l’Institut de recherche en politiques publiques, de l’Environics Institute for Survey Research et du Brian Mulroney Institute of Government.

Source: Le français décline comme langue seconde de préférence

Why Canada’s Jews Are Better [than American Jews]

Interesting take on the recent study of Canadian Jews and the comparison with American Jews, and the greater cohesiveness of the Canadian Jewish community:

It is fitting that a landmark study of Canadian Jews, modeled along the famous 2013 Pew Survey of American Jews, has been met with deafening silence south of the border. Major American outlets including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency(JTA) and The Forward failed to mark the publication of the seminal report with even a single column of commentary. This disregard for the goings on up north is unfortunately common but it is not without costs. If the American Jewish community showed more interest in the “2018 Survey of Jews in Canada,” they could  have learned why Canadian Jews are thriving at a time when their own communities are dividing.

Contrary to the traditional narrative that American Jews are the exemplary diaspora, the study’s authors, Keith Neuman (executive director of the Environics Institute), Rhonda Lenton (president and vice chancellor of York University, and Robert Brym (professor at the University of Toronto), argue that Canadian Jews, in fact, are the model group. “Since World War II, the story of the Jewish diaspora has been dominated by historical events and social processes taking place in the United States and the former Soviet Union. In both cases, community cohesiveness is on the decline. Lost in the dominant narrative is the story of Canadian exceptionalism.” More importantly, Lenton points to findings that in spite of global trends of stagnating nonreligious, secular community members, Canadian Jews are “bucking the trend.”

The resilience of Canadian Jews in sustaining their identity, upbringing, and practice in comparison with their American counterparts, is largely due to their significantly lower intermarriage rates. The study reports that while nearly 50% of American Jews intermarry, the rate in Canada is less than half that, at 23%. Correspondingly, Pew’s 2013 survey found intermarried couples showed lower levels of religiosity and were less likely to keep a Jewish household, and that their offspring were more likely to intermarry.

Downstream from higher intermarriage rates, the study demonstrates that American Jews are half as likely to attend community day school, yeshiva, overnight summer camp, and Sunday or Hebrew school compared with Canadians. While participation rates at communal institutions have dwindled among non-Orthodox American Jews, the same has not been true for Reform and Conservative Jews in Canada. Accordingly, while American and Canadian Jewish youth exhibit similar bar and bat mitzvah levels (50% to 60%, respectively) as well as rates of nonaffiliation (roughly 33%), Canadians are significantly more active in their religious communities. As the survey’s executive summary states, “American Jews are half as likely as Canadian Jews to belong to a synagogue, and even less likely to belong to other types of Jewish organizations. Only one-half have made a financial donation to Jewish organizations and causes (compared with 80% of Canadian Jews), and comparatively few have a preponderance of Jewish friends.” Similar results are seen when it comes to Israel between the two communities. “American Jews have a much weaker connection to Israel than do Canadian Jews,” the report states.

Explaining the relative success Canadian Jews have had withstanding the pressures of assimilation is difficult to pinpoint. An article published in the Canadian Jewish News by the study’s authors argue “Canadian exceptionalism” arose as a consequence of larger historical and social forces. “The United States was settled earlier and has therefore had more time for a national identity to crystallize. Moreover, American national identity was forged in an anti-colonial war–always a great unifier–while Canadian national identity emerged gradually, in tandem with the peaceful evolution of independence from Great Britain.” As a result, American Jews have developed a far stronger national identity and consciousness than Canadians. The authors also point to Zionism’s contentious reception among American Jews in the 20th century, particularly in the Reform movement where Jewish self-determination was seen to be in conflict with American patriotism. In Canada, by comparison, British efforts to accommodate French-speaking elements fostered the growth of ethnic institutions within the country. Pierre Elliot Trudeau (the current prime minister’s father) promoted a tradition of multiculturalism and courted Canadian Jews through political appointment of community members. Elevating multiculturalism as official policy of the Canadian government came with explicit instructions to nurture one’s identity and take pride in ancestry.

It’s not all bad news for American Jews. The Canadian study actually provides some cause for encouragement since it shows that policy can make a difference. American Jewish leaders may not be able to replicate Canadian cultural attitudes and national traditions within their own communities but they can certainly draw lessons from the distinctive experiences of their northern neighbors. Finally, there is the contentious but unavoidable fact that intermarriage plays a critical role in determining whether Jewish communities will flourish into the future. This point may be repeated often but that does not make it any less true: A Jewish upbringing is the fount from which identity flows. New technologies (yes, even, JSwipe) may help foster more Jewish marriages in less-observant communities, but algorithms will never solve the fundamental question of how to build a Jewish communal life that endures—for those answers, perhaps it’s time that American Jews turned to the example set here in Canada.

Source: Why Canada’s Jews Are Better

Canadian public’s opinion of US at unprecedented low: Adams

Not surprising but revealing:

It’s rare for pollsters to be able to use the word “unprecedented” to describe survey results unless they’re releasing their first poll – or giving in to the temptation to use hyperbole to get attention. But a recent Environics Institute survey has indeed revealed some unprecedented results. We’ve been fielding our Focus Canada tracking survey since November 1976, and one of the trends we’ve kept an eye on for much of that time has been Canadian attitudes toward America and its president. We first measured these attitudes after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

When our measurements began, a substantial majority of Canadians – more than 7 in 10 – admired our southern neighbour. This feeling reached its apex in 1983, when 83 percent of Canadians expressed admiration for America. Nearly 6 in 10 (58 percent) admired President Reagan.

Notably, admiration for the country at large cut across party lines. In the 1983 Focus Canada survey, Conservatives felt the most positive (87 percent), but solid majorities of Liberals (82 percent) and New Democrats (71 percent) also admired the US. America in 1983 gave the world “Billie Jean” and TheReturn of the Jedi. It also declared a national holiday to recognize the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, just 37 percent of Canadians admire the United States (figure 1). Not coincidentally, only 13 percent of us approve of President Donald Trump (figure 2). These are lows we’ve never seen before. (Unfortunately, we don’t have polling going back to the War of 1812; the proportions admiring the US and its leaders might have been lower then.)

https://e.infogram.com/050baca0-ba1c-4e66-a40f-60efcdcf7d56?src=embed#async_embed

https://e.infogram.com/9c20f3d7-13f8-44df-be9d-e525e4452c41?src=embed#async_embed

Historian Jack Granatstein has often argued that anti-Americanism is bred in the bone of people north of the 49th parallel. If so, the intensity of that sentiment has waxed and waned. It certainly softened in the period starting with the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt and running through that of John F. Kennedy. Canadians admired FDR’s leadership during the Great Depression and the Second World War. Feelings of loyalty and solidarity remained strong through the Cold War.

For many of us baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1966), John F. Kennedy represented a far more dashing figure than the dour John Diefenbaker, our prime minister in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Kennedy and his brother Bobby seemed to embody the vitality and idealism of America while Diefenbaker was the lumbering avatar of our relatively drab dominion.

In this exceptional period, America was much more than the leader of the free world. It offered many of the things average Canadians aspired to (partly because they’d been told to aspire to them by American advertisers): a house in the suburbs, a new car every few years, modern appliances, a martini after a hard day’s work. When Americans moved on to sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, Canadians wanted those things, too. America’s status as the materialistic and hedonistic capital of the world is durable; millions of would-be migrants around the globe still long for a piece of the rags-to-riches, log-cabin-to-the-White-House American Dream.

America has given us a lot since “Billie Jean.” Its cultural and technology leaders continue to shape our worlds. We snap up Apple products, binge on Netflix and use “Uber” as a verb for getting from A to B. But even with our admiration for things American and our dependence on America’s power and its huge market for our exports, Canadians’ attitudes toward the country indicate that they are troubled by the face their neighbours are now showing to the world.

The US president with his bullyish style and America-first policies is one factor. The nightmarish mixing of guns and bigotry (Charleston, Orlando, Pittsburgh) is another. (Canada has had its own recent hate-fuelled mass murders with the Quebec City mosque shooting and the Toronto van attack.) Some Canadians would still like to see their country be more, not less, like the United States. Some might even argue that gun violence, inequality vastly greater than our own and other obvious negatives are simply the price of a society that is on the whole richer, freer and more dynamic. But a majority of Canadians seem to feel that America’s advertisements for itself are not what they used to be.

Source: Canadian public’s opinion of US at unprecedented low

Why immigration could be a high-risk, low-reward issue in the 2019 election

Eric Grenier’s take on the political implications of the latest Focus 2018 survey (Focus Canada Fall 2018 – FINAL REPORTFocus Canada Fall 2018 – DETAILED DATA TABLES)

Though the political debate over immigration and border security has made a lot of noise in recent months, it might turn out to be a dud in the 2019 federal election — or it could blow up in the face of the party leader who risks making an issue of it.

A new survey by the Environics Institute shows that Canadians’ opinions on immigration and refugees have hardly budged from the generally upbeat views recorded by the polling firm over the last few years. A majority of Canadians (58 per cent) say they do not believe that immigration levels are too high, while 76 per cent say that the overall impact of immigration on the Canadian economy has been positive.

But the numbers suggest there’s still an audience for a political party demanding a reduction in immigration and greater efforts to ensure immigrants adopt “Canadian values” — both policies embraced by the new People’s Party launched by former Conservative leadership contender Maxime Bernier.

This could prove to be a point of vulnerability for Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives.

The Conservatives have been sharply critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s immigration policies since the beginning of a surge in the number of asylum seekers crossing Canada’s borders illegally. But those criticisms have been limited to questions of fairness regarding those asylum seekers who try to enter Canada illegally, and claims that the government has no plans in place to adequately house, employ and integrate immigrants.

The Conservatives have been careful to state that they are pro-immigration and are not asking for a reduction in the annual intake.

But that puts the party at odds with many of its own supporters — who appear to be more in line with where Bernier’s party is positioning itself on the issue.

Overall, immigration isn’t a top-of-mind issue for voters, according to the Environics Institute poll. Only five per cent of Canadians — and just six per cent of Conservative voters — cite immigration and refugees as the most important issues facing Canadians today. That’s up only one point since April 2017.

Over the same time, the percentage of Canadians who list the environment and climate change as the most important issue has jumped five points to 10 per cent, second only to economic issues.

Health care, the government’s record, social issues and unemployment also scored higher than immigration in the Environics Institute’s research.

Few votes to win in Quebec on immigration

Immigration ranked low on the priority list in Quebec, where the bulk of asylum seekers have crossed into Canada and where a provincial election was just waged, in part, over the issue of immigration.

Only seven per cent of Quebecers listed it as their top issue. On immigration levels, the legitimacy of refugee claims and immigrants’ impacts on the economy, opinions in Quebec were in line with those in the country as a whole.

This suggests those seeing a hard line on immigration as a winning formula in Quebec are drawing the wrong lessons from the Coalition Avenir Québec’s win in the October provincial election. The CAQ promised to reduce the province’s immigration intake and do more to integrate those who arrive. But the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard was unpopular long before immigration popped up as an issue in the campaign — and CAQ Leader François Legault’s clumsy handling of the file nearly cost him his victory.

Conservative, PPC voters on the same page

The starkest divisions in Canadians’ views on immigration are found not between regions, age groups or education levels, but between supporters of the major parties themselves. While Liberals and New Democrats generally view immigration in the same positive light, Conservative voters see things very differently — though they are no longer alone on that side of the spectrum.

The Environics Institute poll surveyed a small sample of just 63 People’s Party of Canada supporters, so the margin of error on the PPC numbers is high. But the difference between Liberal and NDP supporters on the one hand and Conservative and PPC supporters on the other (and the strong similarity between the views expressed by the last two groups) is so marked that the results are still meaningful.

Just 22 per cent of Liberals and 24 per cent of New Democrats think Canada takes in too many immigrants. But 52 per cent of Conservatives and 47 per cent of PPC supporters think so.

Meanwhile, 58 per cent of Conservatives and 55 per cent of Bernier’s supporters think most refugee claims are illegitimate. Just 30 per cent of Liberals and 32 per cent of New Democrats agree.

And 73 per cent of PPC voters and 70 per cent of Conservatives think too many immigrants are failing to adopt “Canadian values,” compared to 38 per cent of Liberals and 40 per cent of New Democrats.

Perhaps most stark are the responses Environics heard when it asked whether immigrants make the country better or worse. While 62 per cent of Liberals say immigrants make the country better and just six per cent think they make it worse, Conservatives and People’s Party supporters were split three ways.

Among Conservatives, 28 per cent said immigrants make the country better, 31 per cent said worse and 32 per cent said they make no difference. For the People’s Party, those numbers were 32, 34 and 31 per cent, respectively.

This suggests Scheer could be vulnerable on immigration if it flares up as an issue during the 2019 federal election campaign. The Conservative Party might find itself out of step with its own supporters. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem — these voters were not going to head over to the Liberals or NDP — but Bernier’s People’s Party will be an option on the ballot that didn’t exist before.

One thing that does separate Conservative voters from People’s Party supporters is U.S. President Donald Trump. Only 13 per cent of Canadians approve of the president and Conservatives say they disapprove of Trump by a margin of two-to-one. PPC voters are split down the middle on Trump — which perhaps explains why Bernier hasn’t shied away from adopting a “Canada first” message in recent speeches.

Immigrants key to a Liberal victory in 2019

But while immigration might not turn out to be the central issue of the next federal election, immigrants themselves could play a key role.

The poll suggests that if the Liberals win next year, immigrants could be an important factor in that victory. Among voters born in Canada, the Conservatives led the Liberals by two points in the poll. But among voters born elsewhere, the Liberals held a 16-point lead. That’s what makes the difference between a neck-and-neck race and an environment that favours the re-election of Trudeau’s government.

But the poll also suggests that there’s very little difference between how Canadians born in this country and those born outside of it see immigration. In other words, however a party drafts its immigration platform, the degree to which that platform appeals to voters won’t depend on how long those voters and their families have been living here.

One noticeable difference in opinion emerged on the question of whether immigrants make Canada better or worse. By a margin of 54 to 15 per cent, immigrants said that immigration made Canada a better place. Among people who were at least third-generation Canadians, however, the margin was 40 to 19 per cent.

That suggests immigrants are (understandably) sensitive to questions about the value they bring to their new home. Policies that advocate for better integration, or lower intake targets, may not repel immigrants any more than they would non-immigrants. But the perception that a party is anti-immigrant could cause it some real trouble.

In short, immigration looks like delicate balancing act for any party wading into the debate without a positive story to tell.

Source: Why immigration could be a high-risk, low-reward issue in the 2019 election

Multiculturalism and related posts of interest

Last of my ‘catch-up’ series.

Starting with the Environics Institute’ Canada’s World Survey, which highlights the degree to which Canada has a more open and inclusive approach than most other countries, as highlighted in the Executive Summary:

Canadians’ views on global issues and Canada’s role in the world have remained notably stable over the past decade.

In the decade following the first Canada’s World Survey (conducted early in 2008), the world experienced significant events that changed the complexity and direction of international affairs: beginning with the financial meltdown and ensuing great recession in much of the world, followed by the continued rise of Asia as an emerging economic and political centre of power, the expansion of global terrorism, increasing tensions with North Korea and risks of nuclear conflagration; and a growing anti-government populism in Western democracies. Despite such developments, Canadians’ orientation to many world issues and the role they see their country playing on the international stage have remained remarkably stable over the past decade. Whether it is their perception of top issues facing the world, concerns about global issues, or their views on the direction the world is heading, Canadians’ perspectives on what’s going on in the world have held largely steady.

As in 2008, Canadians have maintained a consistent level of connection to the world through their engagement in international events and issues, their personal ties to people and cultures in other countries, frequency and nature of their travel abroad, and financial contributions to international organizations and friends and family members abroad. And Canadians continue to view their country as a positive and influential force in the world, one that can serve as a role model for other countries.

This consistency notwithstanding, Canadians have been sensitive to the ebb and flow of intenational events and global trends.

While Canadians’ perspectives on many issues have held steady over the past decade, there have also been some shifts in how they see what’s going on in the world and how they perceive Canada’s role on the global stage, in response to key global events and issues. This suggests Canadians are paying attention to what happens beyond their own borders, and that Canadian public opinion is responsive to media coverage of the global stage.

Canadians today are more concerned than a decade ago about such world issues as terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, and global migration/refugees. And the public has adjusted its perceptions of specific countries as having a positive (e.g., Germany) or negative (e.g., North Korea, Russia) impact in the world today. Canadians are also shifting their opinions about their country’s influence in world affairs, placing stronger emphasis on multiculturalism and accepting refugees, our country’s global political influence and diplomacy, and the popularity of our Prime Minister.

Canadians increasingly define their country’s place in the world as one that welcomes people from elsewhere.

Multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion are increasingly seen by Canadians as their country’s most notable contribution to the world. It is now less about peacekeeping and foreign aid, and more about who we are now becoming as a people and how we get along with each other. Multiculturalism and the acceptance of immigrants and refugees now stand out as the best way Canadians feel their country can be a role model for others, and as a way to exert influence on the global stage.

Moreover, Canadians are paying greater attention to issues related to immigration and refugees than they did a decade ago, their top interest in traveling abroad remains learning about another culture and language; and they increasingly believe that having Canadians living abroad is a good thing, because it helps spread Canadian culture and values (which include diversity) beyond our shores. Significantly, one in three Canadians report a connection to the Syrian refugee sponsorship program over the past two years, either through their own personal involvement in sponsoring a refugee family (7%) or knowing someone who has (25%).

Young Canadians’ views and perspectives on many aspects of world affairs have converged with those of older cohorts, but their opinions on Canada’s role on the world stage have become more distinct when it comes to promoting diversity.

It is young Canadians (ages 18 to 24) whose level of engagement with world issues and events has evolved most noticeably over the past decade, converging with their older counterparts whose level of engagement has either not changed nor kept pace with Canadian youth. Young people are increasingly following international issues and events to the same degree, they are as optimistic about the direction of the world as older Canadians, and they are close to being as active as travelers. At the same time, Canadian youth now hold more distinct opinions on their country’s role in the world as it relates specifically to diversity. They continue to be the most likely of all age groups to believe Canada’s role in the world has grown over the past 20 years, and are now more likely to single out multiculturalism and accepting immigrants/refugees as their country’s most positive contribution to the world.

Foreign-born Canadians have grown more engaged and connected to world affairs than native-born Canadians, and are more likely to see Canada playing an influential role on the global stage.

Foreign-born Canadians have become more involved in what’s going on outside our borders over the past decade, opening a noticeable gap with their native-born counterparts. They continue to follow international news and events more closely than people born in Canada, but have developed a much greater concern for a range of issues since 2008, while native-born Canadians’ views have not kept pace. Canadians born elsewhere have grown more optimistic about the direction in which the world is heading, while those born in the country have turned more pessimistic. And Canadians born in other countries have also become more positive about the degree of influence Canada has on world affairs, and the impact the country can have on addressing a number of key global issues.

Source: Canada’s World Survey 2018 – Executive Summary, Canadians believe multiculturalism is country’s key global contribution: study 

Some other stories that I found of interest:

The very different pictures of how well integration is working for visible minority and immigrant women between Status of Women Canada (overly negative) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (not enough granularity between different visible minority groups, captured by Douglas Todd: Secret immigration report exposes ‘distortions’ about women  .

Todd continues with some of his interesting exploration immigration issues, including regarding different communities (Douglas Todd: Canadian Hindus struggling with Sikh activism) and highlighting the work of Eric Kaufmann (Douglas Todd: Reducing immigration to protect culture not seen as racist by most) who, in my view, overstates “white flight” and related ethno-cultural tensions and has an overly static view of society.

Timothy Caulfield asks the questionIs direct-to-consumer genetic testing reifying race?:

From a genetic point of view, all humans are remarkably similar. Indeed, when the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, it was confirmed that the “3 billion base pairs of genetic letters in humans [are] 99.9 percent identical in every person.” There are, of course, genetic differences that occur more frequently in certain populations — lactose intolerance, for example, is more common in people from East Asia. But there is simply no reason to think that your genes tell you something significant about your cultural heritage. There isn’t a lederhosen gene.

More important, we shouldn’t forget that the concept of “race” is a biological fiction. The crude racial categories that we use today — black, white, Asian, etc. — were first formulated in 1735 by the Swedish scientist and master classifier, Carl Linnaeus. While his categories have remained remarkable resilient to scientific debunking, there is almost universal agreement within the science community that they are biologically meaningless. They are, as is often stated, social constructs.

To be fair, DTC ancestry companies do not use racial terminology, though phrases like “DNA tribe” feel close. But as research I did with Christen Rachul and Colin Ouellette demonstrates, whenever biology is attached to a rough human classification system (ancestry, ethnicity, etc.), the public, researchers and the media almost always gravitate back to the concept of race. In other words, the more we suggest that biological differences between groups matter — and that is exactly what these companies are suggesting — the more the archaic concept of race is perceived, at least by some, as being legitimate. A 2014 study supports this concern. The researchers found that the messaging surrounding DTC ancestry testing reifies race as a biological reality and may, for example, “increase beliefs that whites and blacks are essentially different.” The authors go on to conclude that: “The results suggest that an unintended consequence of the genomic revolution may be to reinvigorate age-old beliefs in essential racial differences.”

Other research has found that an emphasis on genetic difference has the potential to (no surprise here) increase the likelihood of racist perspectives and decrease the perceived acceptability of policies aimed at addressing prejudice.

Some less-than-progressively-minded groups have already turned to ancestry testing as a way to prove their racial purity. White supremacists in the United States, for example, have embraced these services — often with ironic and pretty hilarious results (surprise, you’re not of pure “Aryan stock”!).

But I am sure most of the people who use ancestry companies are not thinking about racial purity, the reification of race or antiracism policies when they order their tests. And I understand that these tests are, for the vast majority of customers, providing what is essentially a bit of recreational science. In fact, I’ve had my ancestry mapped by 23andMe (I am, if you believe the results, almost 100 percent Irish — hence my love of Guinness). It was a fun process. Still, as the research suggests, the messaging surrounding this industry has the potential to facilitate the spread and perpetuation of scientifically inaccurate and socially harmful ideas about difference. In this era of heightened nationalism and populist exceptionalism, this seems the last thing we need right now.

So, don’t believe the marketing. Your genes are only part of the infinitely complex puzzle that makes “you uniquely you.” If you feel a special connection to lederhosen, rock the lederhosen. No genes required.

Lack of diversity in highlighted is sectors as varied as entertainment (The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem) and education (Lack of diversity persists among teaching staff at Canadian universities, colleges, report finds). Chris Selley: Granting Sikh bikers ‘right’ to ride without helmets only adds to religious freedom confusion provides a good critical take on whether religious freedom extends to riding motorcycles (Ontario does not allow, British Columbia and Alberta do).

Kim Thúy on how ‘refugee literature’ differs from immigrant literature provides an interesting perspective:

“Refugee and immigrant are very different,” she says in an interview. “A refugee is someone ejected from his or her past, who has no future, whose present is totally empty of meaning. In a refugee camp, you live outside of time—you don’t know when you’re going to eat, let alone when you’re going to get out of there. And you’re also outside of space because the camp is no man’s land. To be a human being you have to be part of something. The first time that we got an official piece of paper from Canada, my whole family stared at it—until then, we were stateless, part of nothing.”

Letters from Japanese-Canadian teenagers recount life after being exiled from B.C. coast enriches our understanding of the impact of their uprooting and exile under Japanese wartime internment (similar to Obasan):

“I don’t know of any other archival collections that are like this,” she said. “They might exist, but I don’t know of any. The combination of young people’s letters and letters to a non-Japanese Canadian person is just incredible to me. This is really special.

“One of the things I love about them is that they’re so clearly ordinary people. I think sometimes when the story gets told, that gets missed — that these are teenagers who are bored, and curious. It’s just really touching.”

And a variety of interesting articles on Islam and Muslims: Why so many Turks are losing faith in IslamCan Muslim Feminism Find a Third Way?  Ursula Lindsey and Gender parity in Muslim-majority countries: all is not bleak: Sheema Khan.

One of the most interesting is The Conversion/Deconversion Wars: Islam and Christianity using Pew Research data to assess respective trends:

It turns out that (American) Islam is losing Muslims at a pretty high rate. About a quarter of adults raised Muslim deconvert.

The problem is, from a secularist’s point of view, is that just as many convert to the religion. It has a high conversion rate, especially when compared to Christianity. Islam is growing by about 100,000 per year.

Per Research recently released a report that said:

“Like Americans in many other religious groups, a substantial share of adults who were raised Muslim no longer identify as members of the faith. But, unlike some other faiths, Islam gains about as many converts as it loses.

About a quarter of adults who were raised Muslim (23%) no longer identify as members of the faith, roughly on par with the share of Americans who were raised Christian and no longer identify with Christianity (22%), according to a new analysis of the 2014 Religious Landscape Study. But while the share of American Muslim adults who are converts to Islam also is about one-quarter (23%), a much smaller share of current Christians (6%) are converts. In other words, Christianity as a whole loses more people than it gains from religious switching (conversions in both directions) in the U.S., while the net effect on Islam in America is a wash.

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Muslims, using slightly different questions than the 2014 survey, found a similar estimate (24%) of the share of those who were raised Muslim but have left Islam. Among this group, 55% no longer identify with any religion, according to the 2017 survey. Fewer identify as Christian (22%), and an additional one-in-five (21%) identify with a wide variety of smaller groups, including faiths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, or as generally “spiritual.”

The same 2017 survey asked converts fromIslam to explain, in their own words, their reasons for leaving the faith. A quarter cited issues with religion and faith in general, saying that they dislike organized religion (12%), that they do not believe in God (8%), or that they are just not religious (5%). And roughly one-in-five cited a reason specific to their experience with Islam, such as being raised Muslim but never connecting with the faith (9%) or disagreeing with the teachings (7%) of Islam. Similar shares listed reasons related to a preference for other religions or philosophies (16%) and personal growth experiences (14%), such as becoming more educated or maturing.”

There is perhaps an interesting explanation for some of this deconversion data:

“One striking difference between former Muslims and those who have always been Muslim is in the share who hail from Iran. Those who have left Islam are more likely to be immigrants from Iran (22%) than those who have not switched faiths (8%). The large number of Iranian American former Muslims is the result of a spike in immigration from Iran following the Iranian Revolution of 1978 and 1979 – which included many secular Iranians seeking political refuge from the new theocratic regime.”

How does this compare to people who converted to Islam?

“Among those who have converted to Islam, a majority come from a Christian background. In fact, about half of all converts to Islam (53%) identified as Protestant before converting; another 20% were Catholic. And roughly one-in-five (19%) volunteered that they had no religion before converting to Islam, while smaller shares switched from Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism or some other religion.

When asked to specify why they became Muslim, converts give a variety of reasons. About a quarter say they preferred the beliefs or teachings of Islam to those of their prior religion, while 21% say they read religious texts or studied Islam before making the decision to switch. Still others said they wanted to belong to a community (10%), that marriage or a relationship was the prime motivator (9%), that they were introduced to the faith by a friend, or that they were following a public leader (9%).”

 

Canadian exceptionalism in attitudes toward immigration

More on Focus Canada 2018 findings from Michael Adams and Keith Neuman:

Xenophobic retrenchment has been evident in many societies lately. Anti-immigrant parties have made or consolidated gains in countries such as Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands and, most recently, Italy. Resentment of immigration helped to motivate at least some British voters who supported Brexit. And of course, President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants to his country has been hostile — whether they come from Mexico, Muslim-majority countries or African countries.

Many commentators have speculated that Canada may take a similar turn. Certainly, Canada is not immune to bigotry. In addition to forms of discrimination that reveal themselves in economic data and survey findings, this country experienced a singularly violent attack on Canadian Muslims last year: a hate-motivated mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people.

Are Canadians souring on their country’s traditionally high levels of immigration? Are they becoming more likely to support political candidates who channel ethnic and nationalist resentments? Are immigrants themselves souring on life in Canada?

Remarkably, recent survey findings suggest the opposite. New research by the Environics Instituteindicates two important and hopeful findings. First, Canadian attitudes toward immigrants remain open and positive. This pattern, which has been in evidence since the early 1990s, has not reversed in recent years. Second, Canada stands out internationally in the happiness that immigrants themselves report, and in the general public’s positive attitudes toward their foreign-born compatriots. (One driver of these mutually positive feelings may be that around 4 in 10 Canadians are themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants — meaning that immigrants’ attitudes are public attitudes to a significant extent.)

In spite of high and growing levels of immigration into Canada (around 300,000 in 2017), 6 in 10 Canadians recently  surveyed by Environics disagree that immigration levels are too high, compared with 35 percent who agree. Eighty percent believe the economic impact of immigration is positive, a conviction that goes a long way in explaining the success of the Canadian model.

Attitudes toward the legitimacy of refugee claims has grown more positive than they have been in the past three decades. More Canadians disagree (45 percent) than agree (38 percent) with the statement: “Most people claiming to be refugees and not real refugees” — and that disagreement has more than tripled since 1987.

Canadians do express concern about the speed with which they think immigrants adopt “Canadian values.” Today half of us (51 percent) do not think immigrants adopt Canadian values quickly enough, but rather than surging in recent years, the proportion of Canadians who hold this attitude has actually declined from 72 percent in 1993. Such concern is now at the lowest level in the 25 years over which this survey question has been put to Canadians.

Canadians stand out internationally in the way they think about immigration and diversity in their society.

Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index is a composite score for a society’s openness toward immigrants, made up of responses to three questions about whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that immigrants live in their country, become their neighbours, and marry a close relative. The survey covered 140 countries, and Canada ranked fourth overall in its acceptance of migrants. Among those in the OECD, Canada ranks third and the United States ranks tenth, while major European countries like Germany, the UK, Italy and France are farther down the list, followed by those in Eastern Europe.

What about immigrants themselves? Do they feel at ease in Canada? The just-released 2018 World Happiness Report finds Canadian immigrants’ assessment of their “subjective well-being” is among the most positive in the world: ranking seventh out of those of 156 countries. Immigrants’ happiness in Canada is fairly consistent regardless of where they’ve come from and where they’ve settled in Canada. Their self-reported well-being is also more similar to that of other Canadians than it is to people in their countries of origin.

The World Happiness Report’s authors note that newcomers tend to arrive in their new societies full of optimism, but in societies that prove unwelcoming, happiness declines over time, meaning that settled migrants end up less happy than new arrivals. Among more accepting countries, newcomers’ optimism is affirmed by experience, and happiness remains high among settled migrants. The data show this is clearly the case in Canada.

It’s not unreasonable to think that an accepting society and happy, optimistic immigrants create a virtuous cycle over time — with most people doing their best to be fair and friendly and to give others the benefit of the doubt. It’s worth noting that, as immigrants become more numerous — and, increasingly, spread beyond the traditional catchment areas of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — the proportions of Canadians who report direct experiences with immigrants and various groups different from their own is on the rise. Generally speaking, personal experience with difference breeds good feeling (and probably helps to inoculate people against fear-mongering in the media or online).

Still, large majorities of Canadians acknowledge the reality of racism and discrimination. For instance, 84 percent of Canadians believe Canadian Muslims face discrimination often (50 percent) or occasionally (34 percent). Large majorities also believe immigrants from the Middle East, Indigenous people and Black people face discrimination at least occasionally. These findings indicate that most of us recognize there’s still much work to be done to live up to some of our rhetoric about diversity and inclusion, but acknowledgement of society’s shortcomings is a better place to start from than denial.

For now, it’s worth bearing in mind that, even amid gloomy headlines from both here and abroad, millions of people are quietly getting along in Canadian communities every day. Moreover, things can and do change for the better; people have a record of changing their minds in our imperfect country. According to a 2016 Environics survey, little more than 20 years ago only 35 percent of Canadians felt that two people of the same sex who live together should be regarded as being the same as a married couple. In 2016, the proportion was 73 percent.  (Some of this change is intergenerational: tolerant young people replacing older traditionalists. But many Canadians (including many older people) have changed their minds on same-sex marriage.

As some other societies retrench, Canadians — those born here and those born elsewhere — appear to be continuing their evolution toward greater mutual acceptance and greater acknowledgement of where their society falls short on equity. These recent findings suggest that Canada has a strong foundation from which to work toward a country where even more of us can report happiness, well-being and optimism for the future.

via Canadian exceptionalism in attitudes toward immigration

ICYMI: Canadian attitudes toward immigrants, refugees remain positive – Environics Focus Canada 2018

The latest Focus Canada 2018 data, overall ongoing positive trends:

The arrival of Syrian refugees, as well as thousands of asylum seekers over the United States border, along with the global growth in anti-immigrant sentiment have barely moved the positive attitude most Canadians have toward new arrivals, a study has found.

Six-in-10 Canadians chose “disagree” when asked the question “Are immigration levels too high?” in the February survey by the Environics Institute for Survey Research – a finding that has remained relatively stable for a decade. Eight-in-10 said immigrants have a positive economic impact. Compared with last year’s survey, more respondents believed that immigrants adopt Canadian values. Most of the national results extended a steady 30-year trend toward greater acceptance of immigrants.

“I think some people felt retrenchment was happening, or at least feared it was happening, but since last year the change is pretty small and is still more positive than negative,” said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute that conducted the survey of 2,000 Canadians.

Canadians also inched away from the polarization over immigration issues seen in Europe and in the United States under Donald Trump. Canadians were less likely to strongly agree or disagree with several poll questions and more likely to express uncertainty and doubt, according to Dr. Neuman. “It’s not a big change, but it’s enough to say opinions are a little less polarized than last year,” he said. “It’s dangerous to assume what’s happening in the United States or elsewhere is also happening here. ”

The trends, however, are not universally positive toward immigration. Albertans and, to a lesser extent, Quebeckers, expressed more doubt about the legitimacy of refugee claims than in the previous survey, lowering the national score slightly. Respondents in both provinces also expressed more doubt about whether immigrants are adopting Canadian values.

“It’s Alberta rather than Quebec that has the hardest attitudes toward immigrants and refugees, which is not what we tend to assume,” Dr. Neuman said. “But it’s too early to say it’s a trend.”

Some 49,775 people claimed asylum in Canada in 2017, including 20,593 who came in at irregular crossings, mostly in Quebec. About 300,000 landed in other immigrant categories.

The irregular crossings received enormous attention in Quebec, including a lot of commentary expressing doubts about the legitimacy of the asylum claims. The province also saw the rise in profile of small, far-right fringe groups hostile to immigration, but the phenomenon seems to have limited reach.

The poll showed 42 per cent of Quebeckers agreed with the statement “Many people claiming to be refugees are not real refugees.” That number is up three percentage points from last year. Forty-three per cent disagreed, down six points. Nationally, 38 per cent agreed, while 48 per cent disagreed.

In Alberta, 48 per cent said they agree that many refugee claimants are not real refugees, an increase of three percentage points, while 35 per cent disagreed, a drop of nine points. Sixty-two per cent of Albertans said too many immigrants don’t adopt Canadian values compared with the national score of 51 per cent.

Even before the results were shared with him, Fariborz Birjandian, chief executive of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, anticipated the Alberta difference.

Once he heard the numbers, Mr. Birjandian said the higher level of negative attitudes captured in the poll disguise an Alberta paradox: Some Albertans donate and volunteer to help settle refugees more than most Canadians while others express suspicion or hostility toward them.

“My conclusion is this: Albertans have stronger opinions on immigration. Those who support it support it wholeheartedly and those who have questions have stronger opinions, too. Albertans are more opinionated,” Mr. Birjandian said.

Alberta’s economy has also been in bad shape with the collapse of oil prices. Economic uncertainty often increases negative feelings about immigration, said Sarah Aimes, director of the immigrant-services department at Lethbridge Family Services. But, she said, positive sentiment about the Syrian refugees has tempered the negatives.

The Environics Institute poll of 2,000 Canadians, conducted by telephone between Feb. 5 and Feb. 17, has asked the same questions for three decades. It has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, in 19 out of 20 samples.

On a global scale, Canada still stands out for the public’s positive attitudes toward new comers and in the happiness that immigrants themselves report. When asked about their well-being, Canadian immigrants were ranked seventh-happiest out of 140 countries.

via Canadian attitudes toward immigrants, refugees remain positive: study – The Globe and Mail

2016 Census Environics Presentation: Release 6 – Education, Labour, Journey to work, Language of work, Mobility, migration

Really good detailed series of slides on the latest Census release. Not just for policy and data nerds:

via 2016 Census: Release 6 Education, Labour, Journey to work, Language of work, Mobility, migration

In the era of extreme immigration vetting, Canada remains a noble outlier: John Ivison

Ivison’s take on my MPI article Building a Mosaic: The Evolution of Canada’s Approach to Immigrant Integration):

While Donald Trump used Tuesday’s deadly attack in New York to promote immigration restrictions, a remarkable consensus continues to hold in Canada, evident in the response to the government’s announcement that nearly 1 million newcomers will be welcomed over the next three years.

Immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said late Wednesday 310,000 new entrants will arrive next year, 330,000 in 2019 and 340,000 in 2020.

In response, Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel complained about the Liberals over-promising and under-delivering on the immigration file, pointing to a backlog at the Immigration and Refugee Board, a lack of mental health services for Yazidi women, wait times for permanent residency for caregivers, and an uneven spread of immigrants across the country. But crucially, those complaints were about management of the system by the Liberals, not the significant uptick in numbers.

In a world where the U.S. president is pushing to step up “extreme vetting,” where even countries like Germany and Denmark with a reputation for being havens are turning against immigrants, Canada is a notable, noble outlier.

As Andrew Griffith, a former senior bureaucrat at the department of Citizenship and Immigration, notes in a new paper for the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, Canada’s successful immigration policy has its roots in the country’s history and geography.

“The ongoing creative tension between groups (English, French and Indigenous peoples) produced a culture of accommodation central to Canada’s ability to absorb and integrate newcomers. Further, the widely held perception among Canadians that immigrants are an economic boon and cultural asset to the country has made public opinion on the subject generally resilient, even as sharp backlashes have unfolded in the United States and Europe,” he wrote.

The polling bears that out. In fact, fewer people are concerned about immigrants not adopting “Canadian values” than at any time in the past 20 years, according to a major study carried out last year by the Environics Institute.

The study said 58 per cent of Canadians disagree with the statement that immigration levels are too high, compared with 37 per cent who agree. Views on the issue in Quebec reflected the national average.

It said 80 per cent believe the economic impact of immigration is positive, compared to just 16 per cent who disagree.

And it found 65 per cent think immigration controls are effective in keeping out criminals, up from just 39 per cent in 2008.

Since the major liberalization of immigration in the 1960s, when Canada abandoned race-based selection criteria and paved the way for the country’s current diversity, there has been a consistency about the broad parameters of immigration policy, regardless of which party has been in power.

Since 1995, immigrants admitted under economic preferences have consistently accounted for half or more of newly arrived immigrants.

The OECD’s migration outlook survey suggests the Canadian system is successful at attracting some of the world’s best and brightest. In 2014, 260,400 permanent residents were admitted, and more than half of the 25-to-64 year olds in that group had completed post-secondary degrees. The employment rate for foreign-born men was higher than for native-born men.

None of that is to suggest that the system is not used as a source of electoral fodder — particularly by the Liberal Party.

While the Conservatives reduced family-class immigration and increased economic immigration when they were in power, new programs introduced by the Liberals threaten to reverse some of that progress.

In the last election, the Liberals campaigned on prioritizing family reunification, granting points under the Express Entry system to applicants with siblings in Canada and doubling the number of applications allowed for parents and grandparents.

There was plenty more political pandering — watering down language requirements, lifting Mexican visa requirements and reducing the residency requirement for citizenship from four years to three.

The Trudeau Liberals’ emphasis on rights over the responsibilities promoted by the Harper government — and the prioritization of diversity over Harper’s insistence on shared Canadian values and history — paid electoral dividends, shifting the allegiance of a number of visible minority communities toward the Liberals.

Yet the changes were at the margins.

Both governments adhered to the distinctly Canadian model of integration, based on broad agreement about the way immigrants are selected, settled and melded into society.

The demographics defy partisanship and both Conservatives and Liberals have tried to offset the effect of an ageing population, where the working age to retired ratio is set to fall from 6.6:1 in 1971 to 2:1 by 2036.

Beyond the economics, there is a common approach to integration.

Griffiths notes that as far back as 1959 in Statistics Canada’s Canada Year Book, integration was defined as being clearly distinct from assimilation — it provided for the retention of cultural identity.

The niqab ban in Quebec suggests the debate on accommodation is not resolved.

But it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Canadians are broadly at ease with mass immigration to this country, even as it has resulted in a country with one of the largest foreign-born populations in the world.

Source: John Ivison: In the era of extreme immigration vetting, Canada remains a noble outlier | National Post