Monday, February 20, 2017

Are Canadian values on refugees and immigration starting to change?

If more evidence of a troubling slide were needed, a new poll of Canadian attitudes towards refugees. This appears to fly in the face of the usual assumption that Canadians are welcoming of refugees, and immigrants in general.
The poll suggests that, although 47% of Canadians believe that  the Liberal (and liberal) policy on taking in refugees ua about right, nearly as many (41%) think that the number being accepted is already too high, with just 11% responding that the number is too low. The government plan is to take in 40,000 refugees this year, down from the  55,800 that were accepted in 2016, although still substantially more than under the previous Conservative government. 61% said that the federal government had a god job on handling the resettlement of refugees.
More worrying, as many as a quarter of poll respondents believe that Canada should adopt a Trump-style temporary ban on refugees and immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.
A breakdown of these figures by political affiliation shows just how far to the right the Canadian Conservative Party has slid indecent months: 62% of Conservative voters believe that the number of refugees being accepted is too high, as compared to about 30% of Liberal and NDP voters.
This comes hard on the heels of another recent poll of Canadian Conservative Party members who support Kellie Leitch, which indicates that as many as 48% of them would welcome and support a Trump-style travel ban of immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries. Granted, this is a small subset of a subset, but this is Canada, for God's sake!
Yes, this is just a poll, and polls are often wrong (increasingly so, it seems). But it does seem to indicate a rather worrying slide in attitudes and - at the risk of linking everything back to the contagion of Donald Trump and American conservatism - to indicate that the accepting and inclusive attitudes we have always taken for granted as being part of "Canadian values" may be start in to change.

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