Canadian public opinion on immigration and refugees

The latest Focus Canada results on immigration. No major change:

The 43rd Canadian Federal Election just concluded was a tightly-contested campaign in which the incumbent Liberal Government led by Justin Trudeau found itself in a tough fight for reelection just a few years after it took office on a promise of “sunny ways” and broad political support. Many anticipated that immigration might emerge as a major election issue that would be used by some if not all parties as a wedge to energize their base or peel away support from competitors. The recent influx of asylum seekers at the southern border in Quebec and Manitoba, the emergence of a new populist party staking a position against “mass immigration”, and increasing animosity toward migrants in the US and elsewhere has fed concerns that Canadians were becoming more anxious about current immigration policies and the flow of newcomers into their communities.

It did not happen. Apart from a few anti-immigrant billboards popping up, immigration and refugees did not feature prominently in the election campaign, and the Peoples Party of Canada attracted less than two percent of the votes, failing to elect a single MP to Parliament. Why these issues did not materialize can be explained by the results of the most recent Environics Institute Focus Canada survey, which was conducted in the final weeks of the campaign. This research reveals that Canadians as a whole continue to be more positive than negative about the number of immigrants arriving in Canada and the benefits they bring to the country’s economy. Moreover, public concerns about such contentious issues as whether newcomers are adequately embracing Canadian values and the legitimacy of refugee claimants have not increased over the past year; if anything they have moderated. Immigration was not a top of mind issue for the vast majority of Canadian voters from any political party.

As on past surveys, attitudes about immigration and refugees differ across the population. Positive sentiments are most prevalent among younger Canadians and those with a university education. Negative views are most evident in Alberta, among Canadians ages 60 and older, and those without a high school diploma. In Quebec, despite the recent controversy over its new legislation banning religious dress, public opinion about immigrants is as positive if not more so than in other parts of the country.

The largest divergence continues to be along partisan political lines, primarily between supporters of the Liberal Party, NDP and Green Party, who are the most positive about immigration and refugees, in sharp contrast with those who would vote for the Conservative Party. This gap in sentiment notwithstanding, immigration is not an issue that strongly divides Canadians (as the recent election demonstrated), and this stands in sharp contrast to the current electoral divisions in other western countries.

Is there an urban-rural divide in Canada?

Nice summary analysis by Andrew Parkin of Environics Institute, and how regional differences tend to be more significant:

With Canada’s population increasingly concentrated in a small number of large metropolitan areas, the question often arises: do the values, interests and concerns of citizens in cities differ from those of their counterparts living in smaller cities or towns across the country? Is there a specific metropolitan mindset or set of experiences that distinguishes those living in these major urban centres from other Canadians?

To find answers, our  2019 Confederation of Tomorrow survey was used to compare public opinion across the country’s four largest metropolitan areas – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary-Edmonton (combined) and Vancouver – with that of people living in the rest of their respective provinces, and that of the rest of the Canadian population as a whole. Those four metropolitan areas together hold 43 percent of Canada’s total population. Calgary and Edmonton are combined to increase the survey sample, representing metropolitan Alberta. (Details of the survey and sample sizes for each city are reported at the end of this article, in chart 4.)

Government and the economy

On a variety of questions relating to the role of government and the state of the economy, there are many differences in opinion across the four major urban areas, and also many cases of similarities in views between each city and its surrounding non-metropolitan area. This highlights the continuing importance of regional differences across Canada, which overshadow differences between bigger cities and smaller towns.

In the wake of the economic downturn linked to the petroleum sector in Alberta, it’s not surprising that the mood in Calgary-Edmonton is bleak. Our survey in December 2018-January 2019 found that residents there are less likely to be satisfied with the way things are going in the country. They are also more likely to describe their household income as being “not enough”; and more concerned about job security (chart 1). (However, on the question of job security, Torontonians also express a higher than average level of concern). Those living in Calgary-Edmonton are also the least likely to say that governments have a positive impact on most people’s lives, and most likely to say that this impact is negative (chart 2). Montrealers stand out in exactly the opposite way: compared with residents of the other three city-regions, they are the most satisfied with the direction of the country, the least concerned about their incomes and job security, and the least likely to see government as having a negative impact.

While opinions in Montreal and Calgary-Edmonton are quite different from one another on these questions, they are, on the whole, not very different from residents in the rest of their respective provinces. In other words, non-metropolitan Quebecers sound more like Montrealers than like people who live in non-metropolitan areas of other provinces – and the same goes for non-metropolitan Albertans (whose opinions resemble those of residents of Calgary-Edmonton, not their non-metropolitan counterparts in other provinces).

In the first instance, this is likely because outlooks are shaped by regional economic conditions – currently, more positive in Quebec and more negative in Alberta – whose effects are felt both inside and outside of each region’s major cities. But there is evidence that provincial political cultures matter, too. For instance, Quebecers – whether in or outside of Montreal – are more likely than the national average to favour a larger government offering more services, but also more likely to favour a transfer of powers from the federal to their provincial government (chart 3). Albertans – whether in or outside of Calgary-Edmonton – are less likely than average to favour a larger government, but also (similarly to Quebecers) more likely to favour a transfer of powers from the federal to their provincial government. These differences in support for a larger or smaller role for government, and for a more centralized or decentralized federation, again are regional or provincial in nature – they appear to have little to do with whether or not one lives in one of the country’s major cities.

Diversity

While Canadians have become much more welcoming of immigrants and refugees over the past 25 years, our survey nonetheless finds that two in three (65 per cent) agree that there are too many immigrants coming into this country who are not adopting Canadian values. There is surprisingly little variation in views on this question across the country’s four major urban areas, or between these areas and the rest of the country. Agreement is only slightly lower than average in Toronto and Vancouver, and – with the exception of British Columbia – only slightly higher than average in areas of the country outside of the major urban centres. Quebecers, including Montrealers, are slightly more likely to agree that too many immigrants are not adopting Canadian values.

Canadians were also asked whether they agree that “a person who has a strong attachment to their own ethnic community is no less Canadian than anyone else,” or that “a person who has a strong attachment to their own religion is no less Canadian than anyone else.” When the responses for all big-city dwellers are compared to those of other Canadians, no significant differences are observed: about seven in 10 agree in all cases. There are no significant differences between the views of Quebecers in or outside of Montreal, Ontarians in or outside of Toronto, or British Columbians in or outside of Vancouver.

What stands out on these issues, then, is the absence of significant differences, either across the major cities, or between the major cities and smaller communities.

Policy priorities

The clearest evidence for the absence of a common big-city agenda in Canada comes from the response to the open-ended question about the most important problem facing Canadians today. The most frequently mentioned items differ significantly from city to city. And only one – the economy – appears among the top five problems mentioned in each of the four major urban areas.

  • In Vancouver, the item most frequently identified as the most important problem is affordable housing (18 per cent), followed by the economy (12 per cent), the cost of living (9 per cent), the environment (9 per cent), and poverty, homelessness and inequality (6 per cent).
  • In Calgary-Edmonton, the economy dominates the list, with 24 percent saying it is the most important problem facing Canadians today. This is followed by political representation (12 per cent), energy and pipelines (11 per cent), jobs and unemployment (8 per cent) and immigration (5 per cent).
  • In Toronto, the five most frequently mentioned problems are: the economy (12 per cent), affordable housing (9 per cent), political representation (8 per cent), jobs and unemployment (7 per cent) and the cost of living (7 per cent).
  • In Montreal, the most frequently mentioned problem is the environment (17 per cent), followed by immigration (12 per cent), political representation (9 per cent), health care (8 per cent) and the economy (7 per cent).

While the four major urban areas differ from one another in term of priorities, the question of whether each mirrors the rest of their respective provinces is harder to answer; the patterns are inconsistent. The biggest problem in the minds of Quebecers, regardless of whether they live in Montreal, is the environment. But immigration is cited as the country’s biggest problem by twice as many Montrealers as other Quebecers. Affordable housing is high on the list of problems for Torontonians, but not for other Ontarians; the case is reversed for immigration. British Columbians outside of Vancouver include political representation as well as energy and pipelines on their list of top problems, whereas Vancouverites include the cost of living and poverty, homelessness and inequality. Only in Alberta do the major urban areas and the rest of the province share an identical list of top five problems, most of which relate to the economy, energy and political representation.

Overall, then, while there are some issues that tend to be more of a concern to Canadians living in some big cities than those living outside of them, such as affordable housing or poverty, there are also many concerns that are shared, at least within the context of individual provinces. More broadly, there is greater variation in the list of concerns across provinces than there is between major urban areas and other communities within each province.

Summary

In short, the survey results show that the four major urban areas of Canada are neither consistently similar to one another, nor consistently different from the non-metropolitan areas of Canada. One reason for this is the overriding impact of regional and local economic conditions. Another factor is that there is simply more agreement across the country on some issues (such as diversity) than is often assumed. Finally, on questions of the size and role of government, provincial political cultures, such as those in Quebec and Alberta, appear to shape the views of those living both in and outside each province’s largest cities, again overriding any urban-rural differences.

Big cities share many common features and face many similar challenges as they continue to grow. But this does not mean that Canadians who live in these cities will always share the same opinions. There are many issues that unite us, and this holds true regardless of whether we live in smaller communities or larger ones. There are also issues on which we differ, but in many cases, these differences are of a more regional character than an urban-rural one.

This article is extracted from a larger report available from the Environics Institute at www.environicsinstitute.org.

The 2019 Confederation of Tomorrow survey of Canadians was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with the Canada West Foundation, the Mowat Centre, the Centre D’Analyse Politique – Constitution et Fédéralisme, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at Saint Francis Xavier University. The research consisted of a national public opinion survey conducted online (in the provinces) and by telephone (in the territories) with a representative sample of 5,732 Canadians (ages 18 and over) between December 14, 2018 and January 16, 2019.

Sample sizes of Canadians who shared their views for these questions.

Source: 2019 Confederation of Tomorrow.

Source: Is there an urban-rural divide in Canada?

Adams and Parkin: Voters need to be suspicious of all the magical promises from politicians

Indeed:

Voters have changed. Deference to authority has diminished: People no longer respect political leaders’ ideas and judgment simply because of their status. Party loyalty, once an intergenerational commitment for many families, has waned. Increasingly, people shop around for appealing platforms and telegenic leaders, changing parties from election to election.

Little wonder, then, that politicians sometimes seem almost intimidated by these fickle voters. Almost no seat is truly safe; no segment of the electorate can be taken for granted. Each voter must be carefully wooed with tailored promises and inoffensive messages. This courting may be eminently democratic but there is a downside: Politicians have become even more shy about telling voters the hard truths they’d rather not hear.

Fewer than one-in-five Canadians favour a government that’s smaller and offers fewer services. So it’s not surprising that election campaigns focus on how to expand services such as child care, health care and pharmacare.

Meanwhile, many Canadians express concerns about the cost of living. A growing proportion say they’re dissatisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing in their community, for instance. And so voters – especially those in the coveted and ill-defined “middle class” – are offered new tax credits to help them keep up with expenses.

More services and lower taxes. If you think this sounds too good to be true, you’re out of step with most Canadian voters, who seem to see no contradiction.

Our society has changed a lot since Jean Chrétien won re-election, even after breaking his 1993 promise to axe the hated goods and services tax. He kept the tax, brought the budget back to balance and remained prime minister. But since Stephen Harper reduced the GST to 5 per cent from 7 per cent after his victory in 2006, no politician has dared suggest it be restored to the previous level to pay for all the services and programs that people want.

Similarly, faced with the squeeze of public finances in the wake of the economic downturn in Alberta, the new premier of that province is more comfortable pointing the finger at Quebec than entertaining the prospect of a provincial sales tax at home.

Even in the face of what we are now rightly calling a climate emergency, the main leaders vying for the keys to 24 Sussex are promising all gain with no pain.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax comes with a promise to send out rebate cheques that will ensure most Canadians are no worse off. The Conservatives think even that is too risky. They would prefer to find ways to sell green technology to developing countries, so Canadians can actually profit from the hard work of global emissions reduction.

Either or both of these might be workable policies. Yet, it is still remarkable that in an election taking place in 2019, political parties feel compelled to reassure voters that they can save the planet at no net cost to people like themselves.

Politics have always involved a little magical thinking, with politicians using spending to attract new voters before the election, and only sheepishly getting around to dealing with the inevitable costs later on. Very often, the buy-now-pay-later approach is premised on the assumption that current levels of growth and tax revenues will continue into the foreseeable future.

“Elect me and I’ll make sure we’re well braced for an inevitable downturn,” a candidate might say, but this tends not to do well in focus groups as a campaign slogan. With deficit financing back in fashion, a more freewheeling approach to politics is easier than ever – at least until interest rates balloon debt servicing costs and bring us back to the budget shocks of the mid-1990s.

If there is any real difference between today and past eras of political overpromise, it’s perhaps the absence of a traditional left-right schism between the two main parties that can conceivably form government after this Oct. 21 election.

Voters are being asked to parse the different redistributive effects of competing tax credits, the different scale of investments in public services and the different timelines for returning the budget to balance. This leaves the economists with lots to argue about.

The average voter, however, is left feeling both flattered with all the attention, and a little suspicious. As the two most powerful parties promise that Canadians can have it all, without sacrifice, surely some voters have a sneaking feeling there’s something important they’re not being told.

Adams and Parkin: Are Canadians losing confidence in their democracy?

Good counterpoint to some of the narratives circulating:

While views on the economy are mixed, the general trends in Canada, especially on attitudes towards democracy and diversity, remain positive.

There are few certainties heading into an election campaign; the outcome is up for grabs. The one thing many do feel certain of is that it is Canada’s turn to be buffeted by the winds of populism. As we prepare to cast our votes, we are feeling increasingly left behind economically, are becoming less welcoming of immigrants, and are losing confidence in our democracy.

The problem with this narrative is that it is, on the whole, not true. Consider how Canadians view their democracy. Three in four are currently satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada, a figure slightly higher than earlier in the decade. Seven in 10 say they have confidence in the honesty of our elections, a level of confidence that places Canada in the top tier of OECD countries. While confidence in elections has declined by 22 points since 2009 in the U.S., falling to 37 per cent, it has been holding steady in Canada.

When it comes to immigration, the trend is even more clear. While 35 per cent of Canadians say there are too many immigrants coming to Canada, far more – almost three in five – disagree. Most importantly, the proportion agreeing that there is too much immigration is close to the lowest figure ever. Twice as many felt that way 25 years ago.

Seven in 10 Canadians say they have confidence in the honesty of our elections, a level of confidence that places Canada in the top tier of OECD countries.

It is no doubt true that many Canadians prefer highly skilled immigrants over refugees walking over the border, and that some worry about whether new immigrants are integrating quickly enough into the Canadian mainstream. But the proportion holding these views has been trending downwards over time. At no time in the past 25 years have fewer Canadians felt that too many refugees are not legitimate, or that too many immigrants are not adopting Canadian values.

Earlier this year, a Gallup survey showed that immigration was the number one issue on the minds of our neighbours to the south.  At the same time, our Focus Canada survey showed that only three per cent of Canadians cited immigration as the biggest problem facing the country.

On the economy, the picture is more nuanced. Overall, Canadians are becoming more positive, with steady increases in the proportions saying that both the country’s economic situation and their own personal one is in good shape. The proportion saying that now is a good time to find a job is higher today than at any point since the recession hit in 2008.

The pattern, however, differs across the country, with dramatic improvements in Quebec’s economic outlook masking growing concerns in Alberta. And a generally more positive take on the economy is also combined with a weakening in satisfaction with our standard of living, particularly among younger Canadians (although satisfaction still remains high). The proportion of younger Canadians dissatisfied with the availability of good, affordable housing has doubled since the beginning of the decade.

While the messages on the economy are more mixed, the general trends in Canada, especially on attitudes towards democracy and diversity, remain positive. This is hardly an excuse to paper over other problems, for problems are it not hard to find. A growing number of Canadians are worried about climate change, and large majorities support action on reconciliation, including finally ensuring Indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water, adequate housing and quality education.

The purpose of questioning the narrative that Canada is getting sucked into the populist sinkhole is not to deflect attention from such issues, but precisely the opposite. It will be easier to devote the necessary energy to tackling the problems that we face if we remind ourselves of our strengths as a society and the civic resources we have at our disposal.

An election is the time for citizens, parties and leaders to set their sights on challenges, old and new.  We should be approaching this election more with confidence in ourselves as a civic society than with trepidation that we are losing faith in our democracy.

Source: Adams and Parkin: Are Canadians losing confidence in their democracy?

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.)

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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%).”