The authoritarian reflex: Will it manifest in Canada? Adams

More insights on populism and authoritarianism, comparing USA and Canada, from Michael Adams and his collaborators:

A wave of authoritarian populism has been evident in Europe, Britain and the United States over the past few decades. Many Canadians are wondering how these energies might manifest in their own country’s upcoming federal election.

Social scientists have observed that some people, when made insecure by extreme complexity and uncertainty, respond with an insistence on order and conformity. Researchers call this the “authoritarian reflex,” a reaction characterized by increased rejection of and hostility toward “the other,” be they “deviants” from within or foreigners from without. Different societies manifest the authoritarian reflex to different degrees.

Canada is not immune to the forces at work in other societies. But our history, institutions and public policies are distinct – and it would be a mistake to assume any authoritarian reflex here will be the same as in the United States or elsewhere. Our survey conducted recently in the U.S. and Canada shows remarkable differences between the two countries – not so much in the prevalence of authoritarian sentiments as in the presence of countervailing anti-authoritarian beliefs and values.

In both Canada and the U.S., for example, about a third of the population expresses conformist sentiments such as the belief that obedience and discipline are keys to the good life. But more Canadians embrace open, flexible sensibilities that may serve as a check on the political expression of authoritarian impulses.

For example, Canadians are considerably more likely to agree that atheists can be just as virtuous as those who attend church regularly, and that gays and lesbians are just as healthy and moral as others. In other words, Canadians are more inclined to believe that people outside of traditionally normative groups (religious believers, heterosexuals) are truly equal – that “they” are really part of “us,” or that “those people” count as “the people,” too.

People in democratic countries used to be divided politically based on religious and ethnic identity (in Canada, Catholic/Protestant and French/English), and subsequently by economic class (as urban/industrial interests contended with rural/agrarian interests). Big-tent liberal, conservative and socialist parties represented these groups in legislatures.

But in recent decades, values and identity have become more salient, with issues such as same-sex marriage and environmentalism joining economic interests as key factors shaping voters’ allegiances. Status anxiety is also a growing presence. Those who feel stripped of privilege by social change are gravitating to parties that channel their resentments against groups such as women, immigrants and sexual minorities that are, from their perspective, taking over.

Some of these new drivers of political affiliation are fed by authoritarian tendencies. For example, while some who object to gay rights have specific and deeply considered theological objections, others simply long for a return to “normal” or a “simpler” social order. Where are order-seeking voters with such sentiments concentrating in Canada? Our data indicate they’re migrating to the Conservative Party.

While seven in 10 NDP and Liberal supporters think homosexuals and feminists should be praised for being brave enough to defy traditional family values, only a quarter of Conservative supporters agree. Similarly, while around six in 10 NDP and Liberal backers think it is wonderful that young people have the freedom to protest against things they don’t like, only a quarter of Conservatives relish this youthful defiance.

Conservative supporters are more likely to agree with statements strongly hostile to immigration. For example, 50 per cent of Conservatives strongly or somewhat agree that “Overall, there is too much immigration. It threatens the purity of the country.” Fewer than a third of New Democrats (31 per cent) and Liberal supporters (24 per cent) share this belief. This relative concentration of xenophobic sentiment in one party is a new phenomenon in Canada. Twenty years ago, more anti-immigrant sentiment existed in society over all, but it was evenly divided across all three major parties.

Today, a minority of Canadians are wary of social change in general and immigration in particular. Currently, most of these voters are parked with Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives. To be clear: Conservatives are not necessarily xenophobic, but Canadians who are xenophobic have been gravitating to the Conservative Party.

In a recent speech, Mr. Scheer forcefully denounced bigotry, saying to voters seeking channels for such sentiments, “There’s the door.” Mr. Scheer seems to calculate that his prospects are better if he opens the door to right-ish Liberals and immigrants disappointed with Justin Trudeau than if he tries to coax back hard-right, anti-immigration Conservatives who have decamped to the People’s Party, whose leader, Maxime Bernier, has claimed to be a defender of “Western civilization values.”

Will moderate Conservatives and disappointed Liberals be attracted to Mr. Scheer’s vision of a right-of-centre party that eschews xenophobia? How many protest votes will coalesce around Mr. Bernier? In this October’s federal election, Canadians will find out whether the authoritarian reflex will manifest in national politics here as it has in other countries and, if it does, whether it will be a passing spasm or a more significant seizure.

Source: The authoritarian reflex: Will it manifest in Canada? Michael Adams, Ron Inglehart and David Jamieson

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

Ahead of a federal election, what road will Conservatives take on immigration?

The latest by Michael Adams. See my earlier take on Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel on her positioning (Conservative immigration critique of the levels plan):

On the surface, the contrast between Canada and the United States on immigration is sharp. U.S. President Donald Trump was recently warning of an “invasion” by a group of migrants crossing Mexico on foot, even going so far as to send troops to the border in a theatrical flourish just ahead of the mid-term elections.

Around the same time, Canada’s Prime Minister was apologizing for this country’s refusal to accept the 907 German Jewish refugees aboard the MS St. Louis who sought safety in Canada in 1939. Justin Trudeau drew parallels to our own time – noting refugees are still on the move around the globe and the resurgent anti-Semitism evidenced by the recent mass shooting in Pittsburgh.

But despite the Prime Minister’s humanitarian gestures – and the fact that the Immigration Minister is touring the country making the case for higher immigration levels and a compassionate asylum policy – there is certainly an appetite in Canada for a thicker border and a more hard-line approach to immigrants and refugees. Responding to that appetite is something politicians who wish to court those voters will need to do carefully.

There was a time when those who question the fundamentals of Canada’s approach to immigration, multiculturalism and refugees were spread across all political parties. Over the past 20 years, research indicates that this constituency has become concentrated in the Conservative Party. These voters are not the majority of the Conservative Party, but they’ve been gravitating in that direction for a number of years.

For most of his time in government, former prime minster Stephen Harper resisted the temptation to court xenophobic feeling on the political right; instead, he built a Conservative majority in part by courting the newcomers and settled immigrant communities in Canadian suburbs. He also cultivated an increasingly diverse caucus and cabinet. In 2015, a pivot to more xenophobic messaging, including the introduction of the “barbaric cultural practices” snitch line promoted by ministers Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, proved the wisdom of his earlier approach: The divisive gambit backfired and helped fuel a Liberal majority.

As the Conservatives prepare for the next federal election, they are in a tight spot. They can’t win government – and certainly not a majority – without appealing to new Canadians who are the key to winning ridings in the suburbs of large Canadian cities. At the same time, they need to appear in touch with voters who are having second thoughts about Canada’s current policies and practices on immigration, refugees and multiculturalism. Our data indicate that Canadians who are most likely to question the status quo on migration-related issues are concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where Conservatives rely on racking up plenty of seats. Attracting these two groups simultaneously will be a tricky task.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will probably remember the lessons of 2015 – but he’ll also feel Maxime Bernier breathing down his neck. The platform of Mr. Bernier’s breakaway People’s Party proposes immigration levels substantially lower than those currently in place and opposes the use of immigration “as a tool to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada.” Virtually every vote Mr. Bernier wins with these policy ideas will be a vote that’s siphoned away from Mr. Scheer’s Conservatives – a threat that is especially acute in the Quebec City area and in rural Quebec, where the CAQ did so well in the recent provincial election.

Many commentators have wondered whether the blatant racism and xenophobia advanced by far-right candidates in Europe and now the United States will take hold in Canada, where no major political party in recent decades has adopted strongly anti-immigrant policies or rhetoric. Could it happen here?

With the emergence of Mr. Bernier’s party and the success of the CAQ, some variation is here today. The question is whether Canada’s case of xenophobic populism will be a mild one that inoculates us against a more virulent strain, or whether it will take hold and change the norms of our political culture in a deeper way.

To some extent, this will be up to Mr. Scheer himself: Will he compete with Mr. Bernier for anti-immigration votes and expand the issue’s place in our political discourse? Or will he follow the model of the early Harper years, when the Conservatives used pocketbook issues and selected socially conservative messages to connect with new Canadians?

His answer will affect his party’s fortunes – and likely have a powerful effect on Canadian political culture for years to come.

Source: Ahead of a federal election, what road will Conservatives take on immigration?: Michael Adams

Multiculturalism doesn’t divide, it encourages belonging: Adams and Omidvar

Another good contribution to ongoing debates about multiculturalism:

Maxime Bernier has argued that multiculturalism is a divisive policy that encourages Canadians to identify with their own “tribes” at the expense of their wider society. But there’s abundant evidence that, far from dividing Canadians into factions and hyphenated identities, multiculturalism (or “interculturalism” in Quebec) actually encourages belonging, participation and integration. Critically, it does this by treating all Canadians – not just immigrants – as part of the country’s multicultural fabric (with the exception of the 5 per cent of people in Canada who are Indigenous, few of whom would see themselves as part of the multicultural experiment).

Let’s clarify our terms. “Multiculturalism” refers to a specific policy framework with a history – it was adopted in 1971 – and a budget. The 2018 federal budget allocated $23-million for “multiculturalism” programs over the next two years, primarily the development of a national anti-racism strategy and support for community groups working to help newcomers integrate. That sum is a fraction of 1 per cent of the total federal budget expenditures of about $338-billion.

But multiculturalism is also something less concrete and more powerful: it’s a sensibility that millions of Canadians have adopted as they navigate diversity in daily life in their communities.

We believe that in most places the sensibility of multiculturalism boils down to two key elements. One is simple respect for diversity of race, ethnicity, culture and religion: the sense that diversity is normal, not a problem to be solved. The other is acceptance of the idea that integration works best when it works both ways: Newcomers should do their best to adapt, and those who came before have a role to play in creating environments that support that integration. You can’t integrate into a group that refuses to accept you or treat you fairly.

The idea of multiculturalism pervades Canadian institutions: public schools, neighbourhoods, workplaces, civic life and politics. And this is true far beyond Canada’s three largest cities. Resource jobs have drawn tens of thousands of newcomers to smaller centres in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Atlantic Canada has been courting settlement aggressively; and the Northwest Territories recently recorded its largest-ever immigrant inflow. As communities across Canada become more diverse, they begin to draw on the formal practices and informal habits that constitute day-to-day multiculturalism.

We believe both the policy and practice of multiculturalism help to explain why 85 per cent of immigrants eventually become citizens, which is a higher naturalization rate than in other major immigrant-receiving countries. Citizenship, in turn, enables voting and other forms of political participation; 46 sitting MPs were born outside Canada – the highest share of foreign-born legislators in any country. (And, no, these MPs are not just elected by members of their own groups; only four ridings in Canada are dominated by a single minority ethno-cultural group.)

Multiculturalism is so much a part of our society that in a recent Environics Focus Canada survey, in response to an open-ended question (no response categories provided) about what makes Canada unique, the overwhelming first choice was “multiculturalism/diversity.” It’s true that Canadians sometimes like the general idea of multiculturalism more than they like specific real-life implications – but this doesn’t make multiculturalism meaningless. For one thing, even the aspiration toward genuine inclusion and equity for all groups is not one that all societies share. Multicultural principles have also given rise to many concrete accommodations that have reshaped both daily life and familiar symbols such as police and military uniforms.

When asked what values immigrants should adopt, those born in Canada and those born elsewhere give the same top answers: respect for Canada’s history and culture comes first, followed by knowledge of English or French, tolerance of other people and religions and respect for the law.

Large majorities across both groups believe immigrants can be just as good citizens as anyone born here. Immigrants tend to express slightly more pride in Canada than the Canadian-born do, although large majorities of both groups are proud of their country. The vast majority of immigrants identify more with Canada (78 per cent) than with their country of birth (12 per cent).

The architects of the original policy framework of multiculturalism might not have anticipated that it would become so central to the national identity, or so deeply embraced by people whose ancestors fit easily into old, colonial ideas of monocultural or bicultural Canada.

But while they might not have foreseen the exact contours of contemporary Canada, they did understand the importance of a strong social fabric. Canadian multiculturalism has always aimed at integration, not fragmentation. Three of the four original pillars of the policy focused on participation and inclusion, while only one committed to supporting groups’ efforts to sustain their heritage cultures.

Almost a half-century later, multiculturalism is larger and deeper than a government policy. It’s notable that our surveys find Canadians’ identification with multiculturalism varies so little according to migration status and identity group. If Mr. Bernier intends to attack Canadian multiculturalism, his opponents will include Canadians from every corner of the globe, and plenty of Canadians whose families have been here for generations. In other words, they’ll look a lot like Canada.

Source: Multiculturalism doesn’t divide, it encourages belonging

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

What can Canada teach the US about immigration?

Conclusion to the article that Michael Adams and I wrote for Policy Options:

What might the United States learn from Canada? First, accept immigrants with skills and education that will benefit the American economy, but recognize that they need support to thrive and contribute. Allow immigrants to sponsor close relatives. Fund programs to help newcomers learn English and find employment. Encourage immigrants to become citizens, allow dual citizenship, and encourage new citizens to vote and become legislators who articulate the needs of their communities. One day, one of their children may become president of the great republic.

via What can Canada teach the US about immigration?

Sanctuary cities: Why it’s harder for Trumpism to take root in urban Canada – Adams and Norris

 Adams and Norris on how greater urbanization in Canada provides a degree of resilience to Trump-style politics:

In early 2007, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani led the pack of would-be Republican nominees for president, but some worried he was “too metropolitan” for heartland voters. On Saturday, another famous New Yorker, Donald Trump, marks his first year in the White House. Paradoxically, the Manhattan magnate’s supporters are overwhelmingly rural and small-town folks.

Big U.S. cities such as New York and Los Angeles – and even smaller places such as Miami and Dallas – loom large in imaginations far beyond America’s borders. As for Canada, we suspect most people around the world tend to imagine the country as defined more by wilderness than urban life.

Despite the lower profile of Canadian cities, however, they arguably exert more pull in the country’s political life than U.S. cities do south of the border. American cities are culturally potent but politically constrained.

One reason is that a greater share of Canada’s population is clustered in a smaller number of cities. America’s 10 largest cities contain just 8 per cent of the country’s population. The proportion of Canadians who live in Canada’s 10 largest: 31 per cent. That clustering in a relatively small number of places is even more evident when we include the suburbs. If we look at the census metropolitan areas of the top 10 Canadian and U.S. cities, we find about a quarter of Americans (27 per cent) and more than half of Canadians (55 per cent) living there.

But it’s not just the fact of urban living that matters; it’s also the nature of the cities. Canadian cities are some of the most diverse on Earth. The populations of two of its largest, Toronto and Vancouver, are almost half foreign-born and more than two-thirds first– or second-generation Canadian. Our cities are largely products of postwar immigration. The past half-century has been especially important: Canada retired its explicitly racist immigration policies in the 1960s, moving to a points system prizing education and language proficiency, leading to huge inflows of talent, energy and youth from around the world.

The United States also had considerable (but proportionally smaller) migration inflows over the same period, which affected cities profoundly. But U.S. cities were also being shaped by forces related to slavery and segregation. In what’s called the Great Migration, millions of black Americans fleeing the violence and oppression of the Jim Crow South moved to northern cities such as New York, Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago. In many urban neighbourhoods, as black residents moved in, whites moved out to monocultural suburbs – a pattern sometimes called “white flight.” Redlining – denying services to residents of certain areas – housing discrimination and other racist practices also contributed to the de facto segregation of ostensibly integrated cities. The effects of these policies remain to this day.

It’s true that poverty is racialized in Canada and that this is reflected in some of the residential patterns we see in and around big cities. But Canada never had a demographic upheaval on the scale of the Great Migration, which saw the internal movement of about six million Americans. The story of ethnic concentration in Canada is a nuanced one, shaped directly by discrimination in some cases – and indirectly by economic circumstances born of discrimination – but also often driven by people choosing to be close to others of their own background. Ethnic enclaves can support shops with offerings from “home,” as well as community and religious gathering places. The thriving Chinese community in the affluent Toronto suburb of Markham and the South Asian community in Surrey, B.C., for instance, were formed more by affinity than discrimination (which is not to say their residents don’t experience discrimination – just that it didn’t compel them to live where they live).

Destiny and geography

Another quality that differentiates Canadian cities from American ones is that they are connected to a system – and, importantly, a culture – of economic equalization. Although provinces are responsible for health and education, the federal government redistributes resources with the aim of ensuring that all Canadians enjoy comparable levels of service. This ideology shapes the political culture of provinces and cities as well; when disparities are revealed in the levels of service available to people living in different parts of a larger jurisdiction, Canadians tend to agree – at least in principle – that this is unacceptable.

Americans, with their greater skepticism of government and their greater attachment to local control, are less likely to believe that all Chicagoans, for instance, should enjoy the same quality of services. The fact that excellent schools funded by a strong tax base can be just a few miles away from struggling schools with crumbling infrastructure probably doesn’t thrill most Americans, but it is part of their economic and political tradition. Politically viable responses to such inequity (school vouchers, innovative charter schools) tend to be rooted in more individual choice and more entrepreneurialism, not more redistribution of resources and greater social solidarity across social and geographic boundaries.

The composition and characteristics of each society’s cities have important political implications. In Canada, it’s difficult to win a federal election without winning over immigrants and their children, a powerful presence in many urban and suburban ridings. In the United States, for presidential candidates, the diverse urban vote is useful but not make-or-break. Equally important, the urban vote isn’t always diverse; it can be monocultural. Redrawing electoral boundaries can allow candidates to ignore certain people and still win. North Carolina’s lawmakers have twice been ordered by judicial panels to redraw that state’s electoral map because of extreme gerrymandering – one according to voters’ partisan affiliations, another by race.

As for the U.S. Congress, the composition of the House of Representatives, like our House of Commons, largely reflects the distribution of the population. But the U.S. Senate – much more powerful than our largely advisory upper chamber dedicated to sober second thought – gives hugely disproportionate powers to rural states: Wyoming (population: 585,501) has the same number of senators as California (population: 39.25 million). Indeed, the 26 least populous states, whose 52 senators constitute the majority, represent less than a fifth of the country’s population.

When all these factors are combined, they result in a Canadian political landscape where cities matter enormously and an American political landscape in which it’s possible for national political actors to work around cities.

Canada has racists and racism, and like elsewhere, some of them are feeling emboldened by recent political events. But the mechanics of our political institutions are such that, at the national level, courting the dominant-culture majority at the expense of smaller ethnic or religious groups is a dangerous game, as the Conservatives learned in 2015. In the United States, it can be a winner.

Many factors differentiate Canada from the United States. Our history, our institutions, our values, our public policies are all distinct. The fact that so many of us live so close together in a small number of diverse – in a few cases hyper-diverse – cities is one of the key factors that makes a politically dominant Trump-style backlash on a national scale in this country unlikely.

via Sanctuary cities: Why it’s harder for Trumpism to take root in urban Canada – The Globe and Mail

Quebec’s secularism reigns supreme: Michael Adams

Michael Adams on the likely outcome of Quebec’s niqab ban. Not as sanguine as him given how these identity issues continue to poison Quebec politics:

Like Bill 101, Quebec’s (in)famous language law, Bill 62 is likely to be remembered for a long time, both within Quebec and elsewhere in the country. The reason is that the bill highlights differences between Quebec, where secularism reigns supreme, and the multicultural ideology embraced by the majority of those living in the rest of Canada.

Premier Philippe Couillard’s Liberal government is heading into a pre-election period and passed the law, which severely restricts the wearing of niqabs and burqas, to show Quebeckers that it cares about their core values.

A couple of generations ago, Roman Catholic Quebeckers en masse decided to no longer attend weekly service. After centuries under the religious domination of the church, the population flipped to secularism, as if overnight. The pews emptied, and good tee times became impossible to secure on the province’s golf courses on Sunday mornings.

One of the major implications of this radical rejection of traditional religious authority was the consequent embrace of gender equality. No longer would the daughter who could not find a husband be sent off to the convent to spend the rest of her life in service of a patriarchal church, wearing a black-and-white habit that covered her entire body, save her face.

When Quebeckers, especially former Catholics, see a Muslim woman wearing a niqab or a burka that covers the face, either entirely or except for her eyes, they see both their great aunt and a victim of religious patriarchy. And they don’t like it.

In this, they join their compatriots in France (and other Europeans) who have passed laws to ban a woman from wearing such clothing in public spaces, including on beaches where other women choose to go topless.

Canadians living outside Quebec may not like the idea of Muslim women wearing niqabs and burkas in public, but polls have found that a slim majority believe a ban is a bad idea, and no other province seems concerned enough to introduce legislation akin to Bill 62. One Ontario hospital, hoping to draw female talent, released an ad quipping that it cared more about what is in a woman’s head than what’s on it.

In the last federal election, when then prime minister Stephen Harper wished to deny a Muslim woman wearing a niqab the right to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen, public opinion, especially in Quebec, was initially with him. But then the Supreme Court weighed in, ruling that if she exposed her face to an agent of the Crown, she could be sworn in wearing her niqab.

This gesture, together with the “barbaric cultural practices” tip-line proposed by former Harper ministers Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander, also initially attracted public support. But then many people began to realize that their initial reactions clashed with their deeper-held values of empathy and tolerance. If these few women – and they only number in the few hundred across the country – really want to wear this clothing and they do no one any harm, then why the fuss?

The backlash to the backlash redounded more to the benefit of the crafty Liberals than the moralistic NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. Justin Trudeau sensed in the general public – and especially among the four in 10 of us who are first- and second-generation immigrants – that tolerance of difference was more Canadian than imposing strictures on religious garb. If the courts say it’s okay for a woman to wear a niqab, then so be it. A few years ago, the courts said it was okay for same-sex people to marry, and the rest of us quickly followed suit.

Canadians are generally open to immigration from around the world, believe newcomers are good for the economy, don’t take away jobs from other Canadians and don’t commit more crimes than others. Still, the majority of Canadians also believe that newcomers are not adopting Canadian values quickly enough, and those highly cherished values include gender equality and, in Quebec, secularism.

Where do we go from here? The Liberals passed Bill 62 to show they understand the values of the Québécois. But I imagine latitude will be left in the enforcement of the law, allowing for the kind of reasonable accommodation proposed by philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérard Bouchard in their report on these issues a few years ago.

Why? Because most people will respect the rule of law as expressed in the Quebec and Canadian charters of rights and freedoms; and because many will also be reminded of the treatment of women such as Rosa Parks in the Jim Crow U.S. South, and may reflect that it isn’t women dressed in niqabs, hijabs or otherwise clad who have done real harm to others, but rather young men of many faiths and no faith with a lot of hate in their hearts and a gun at their disposal. In Canada’s pluralistic liberal democracy, that’s the way values and democratic discourse have tended to mediate strident opinions.

Source: Quebec’s secularism reigns supreme – The Globe and Mail

Let’s not dismiss the painful pattern of microaggressions: Adams and Smith

Michael Adams and Joseph Smith on their research findings from the Black Experience Project, including micro aggressions:

The resignation of University of Toronto emeritus history professor Michael Marrus from a senior fellowship at Massey College has provoked discussion far beyond the college. In an exchange covered elsewhere, Mr. Marrus made a slavery-related remark to a black junior fellow, in reference to the approach of the college’s head or “Master,” that concerned the graduate student and others nearby.

As word of the incident spread, petitions demanding action from the college attracted hundreds of signatures. The upshot to date, in addition to Mr. Marrus’s resignation, has been an official apology from Massey College and the suspension of the use of the title “Master” for the head of the college, among other commitments.

There has been much public debate over whether the consequences for Mr. Marrus were proportionate to his action, which he described in an apology letter as “a poor effort at jocular humour.” The contours of this debate are familiar: Should a joke that causes offence be shrugged off or taken seriously as a symptom of a larger problem? Are those who don’t laugh along oversensitive, or rightly holding people and institutions to account?

Our goal is not to revisit the specifics of the Marrus incident. We propose to widen the scope of the conversation with some unique and recent empirical evidence drawn from a seven-year study of the experiences of self-identified black people in the Greater Toronto Area.

What is the context into which a joke is launched? How often might black people – especially those in institutions where they’ve been historically underrepresented – find themselves on the receiving end? Is it a rare event or quotidian?

The Black Experience Project (BEP), whose results were released in July, was an unprecedented survey of 1,504 self-identified black people aged 16 and over in the GTA. The focus was their experience of being black in everyday life in our city region: at school, at work, at leisure, in civic and political life, when shopping, or simply moving around the city.

Four in five participants in our study reported experiencing unfair treatment based on race, in one or more forms of microaggressions, on a regular basis. Examples of microaggressions included: general condescension; intuiting that others expected their work to be inferior; or being treated as an intimidating presence. (It’s worth noting that microaggressions were by no means the whole story; other forms of discrimination – for example, involving employers and the police – were also widely reported.)

Some people who aren’t subject to microaggressions view them as small, unimportant experiences that are blown out of proportion. But BEP participants told us their effects are real and cumulative. One respondent called these day-to-day harms a form of “quiet violence.” Another, a member of Parliament, described the relentless experience of subtle discrimination as “death by a thousand cuts.”

Most of us go through life hoping to be judged on our behaviour, not on what others can surmise about us based on our appearance: our gender presentation, the colour of our skin, the clothing we wear, including religious dress. Martin Luther King Jr.’s hope that his children would be judged “not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character” remains poignant – in part because it remains unrealized.

The Black Experience Project and other surveys show that many Canadians are treated differently because of the face they show the world; anti-black racism is an especially stubborn force. Institutions of learning have an important role to play in helping their members understand and address manifestations of racism, large and small.

Debates about language, codes of conduct and the nuances of social life may seem granular to some who don’t feel at risk of “quiet violence” or “death by a thousand cuts.” But to dismiss microaggressions as unworthy of attention treats each one as a minor, isolated experience with no meaningful consequences instead of as a painful pattern that shapes the landscape many (our survey suggests most) black people navigate in their daily lives right here in the GTA.

Source: Let’s not dismiss the painful pattern of microaggressions – The Globe and Mail

Trump, Trudeau and the patriarchy: Adams

Another interesting piece by Michael Adams on the contrast between the US and Canada:

As icons of masculinity, it would be hard to find a more vivid contrast than that between U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. One is a macho bully who demands deference, the other a people-pleasing metrosexual. These men are not one-of-a-kind phenomena but very much expressions of the societies that produced them.

This is the obvious conclusion from an analysis of the evolving social values in each country Environics has been conducting every four years since 1992.

In order to understand the orientation to the structure of authority in the family in each country, we periodically ask representative samples of people 15 and older if they agree or disagree with the statement: “The father of the family must be master in his own house.”

In 2016, 50 per cent of the 8,000-plus Americans surveyed agreed with the statement. In Canada, the equivalent proportion (with a sample of 4,000-plus) was 23 per cent.

When we first asked this question in 1992, the proportion in the United States agreeing was 42 per cent. It rose to 44 per cent in 1996, and to 48 per cent in 2000. It remained at that level throughout the post-9/11 George W. Bush years and then declined somewhat during the Barack Obama era, to 41 per cent in 2012.

However, as U.S. Republicans and Democrats were in the process of selecting Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton as their respective presidential candidates, the proportion returned to its historic high.

It will surprise no one that support for Mr. Trump is highly correlated with support for patriarchy and, conversely, support for gender equality is highly correlated with support for Ms. Clinton.

Meanwhile in Canada, the proportion of patriarchy supporters has been hovering in the low 20s throughout the past two decades. This is in spite of the inflows of migrants from more male-dominated countries (35 per cent of foreign-born Canadians believe dad should be on top), as well as a mild backlash against feminism among Generation X men at the ages of 25 to 44 (foreign-born and Canadian-born alike). In the United States, 56 per cent of immigrants opt for patriarchy in the home.

There was a time when informed Canadians felt the values of the two countries were converging, or that any observed differences in average opinion in the two societies were simply the result of the South pulling the U.S. number in a conservative direction and Quebec pulling Canada the other way. When it comes to this measure of patriarchy, neither generalization stands up to the evidence. Yes, in the United States, there is substantial regional variation. In the Deep South (Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi), 69 per cent believe the father must be master chez lui, whereas in New England, the figure is only 42 per cent; other regions fall in-between. In Canada, the range is from a high of 26 per cent in Alberta (birthplace of former Republican contender Ted Cruz) to a low of 18 per cent in Atlantic Canada. Canada’s most patriarchal province is significantly less patriarchal than the least patriarchal region of the United States. So much for the theory that nations don’t have national values.

Digging deeper into the demographics, we see some telling patterns: 60 per cent of American men think father should be master at home compared with 41 per cent of American women. In Canada, only 31 per cent of men think dad should be boss, compared with 16 per cent of women. Presumably some of these people live in the same house; must be interesting.

There is little variation by age in either country, or by income, occupational status or community size (rural to urban). In Canada, there is not much difference by education either – but in the United States education matters a lot: 56 per cent of people with a high-school education or less think father should be boss; among those with postsecondary degrees, it is 39 per cent.

Consensus in Canada; some substantial variations in the United States. Patriarchy is only one of more than 50 values we track, but it is clearly among the most meaningful. It is also a value that is highly correlated with other values such as religiosity, parochialism and xenophobia, and views on issues such as abortion, guns and the death penalty.

In 2002, EKOS asked Canadians if Canada was becoming more like the United States or less like it. At that time, 58 per cent said we were becoming more like the United States and only 9 per cent thought we were becoming less like our American cousins. A few weeks ago, we repeated this question in a national survey and found a change of opinion: Only 27 per cent think Canada is becoming more like the United States and a nearly equal proportion (26 per cent) say we are in fact becoming less like our southern neighbour. Perhaps the latter group read The Globe and Mail.

Source: Trump, Trudeau and the patriarchy – The Globe and Mail