By Huff Post |
Attitudes to non-white newcomers are poised to become ballot box issues, a new poll suggests.
According to numbers released Monday by EKOS Research Associates, about 40 per cent of Canadians feel there are too many immigrants coming to this country. The responses were drawn from a survey with a modest sample size.
The firm’s president, Frank Graves, told HuffPost Canada that figure is consistent with what they’ve seen over several years and actually represents a drop from the mid-’90s, when opposition to immigration was pegged at over 50 per cent.
But the poll also suggested that reluctance to welcome newcomers who are visible minorities is now basically at the same level. And that is something new.
“It’s a pretty clear measure of racial discrimination,” Graves said. “A sizeable portion of Canadians are using race as something that would alter their view of whether or not there’s too few or too many immigrants coming to the country.”
The numbers also point to a “dramatic” gap between Liberal and Conservative supporters on the issue, Graves says.
When asked if there are too few, too many, or the right amount of immigrants coming to Canada who are members of visible minorities, 69 per cent of Conservative supporters chose “too many,” compared to 15 per cent of Liberal backers.
In 2013, the same question yielded a less jarring split: 47 per cent of Tory supporters and 34 per cent of Liberals said there were too many visible minorities coming to Canada.
The research suggests Liberals are “losing votes” to Conservatives from Canadians who are less welcoming to visible minorities, Graves said.
The overall poll, conducted between April 3-11 via interactive voice response, had a sample size of slightly more than 1,000 Canadians. However, the questions on immigration were randomly split, Graves said, and had a sample size of 507. Those results have a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Graves posits the shifts are related to the rise of authoritarian right-wing populism around the world that is more focused on hostility towards outsiders and skepticism of globalization than free markets or smaller government.
Canadians who feel economic despair, that the world is less safe, or that their positions of privilege are threatened by the country’s changing demographics feel more liberated to say “let’s pull up the drawbridge,” Graves says.
“So, it’s a different type of outlook and it looks like Conservatives are capturing a lot of that sentiment, that concern, as the Republicans have in the United States.”