Saskatoon StarPhoenix




Amajority of young women and NDP supporters believe Canada is a “racist country,” while the notion is rejected out of hand by most baby boomers, Conservati­ves and Quebecers, says the results of a new Angus Reid Institute poll finding massive fissures on Canadians' perception­s of racism.

“We are a vastly divided country depending on where we live, how old we are and our gender,” Angus Reid Institute president Shachi Kurl told the National Post. “In many cases, these different groups are living on completely different planets.”

The good news is that the vast majority of Canadians believe in racial equality and support the idea of a multi-ethnic society.

The poll found that 85 per cent of Canadians believed that Canada's racial diversity made it a “better country.” A similar proportion (82 per cent) said that they didn't care if their neighbours were of a different race.

But of the survey's 1,984 respondent­s, 34 per cent backed the notion that “Canada is a racist country.”

The group most likely to declare Canada a “racist country” were young women. Of females in the 18-to-34 cohort, 54 per cent declared Canada racist — far higher than the 33 per cent of males in the same age group who shared the sentiment.

Men over the age of 55, meanwhile, were most likely to object to the statement “Canadian is a racist country.” A mere 21 per cent of males born before the year 1966 backed the notion.

Perspectiv­es also varied widely among political parties. Of respondent­s who supported the NDP and the Green Party, more than half thought they lived in a racist country. Among Conservati­ves, that rate was only 18 per cent.

Across the board, it was Quebecers who were most likely to bristle at the notion of Canada as a haven for racism. Only 24 per cent of respondent­s from la belle province ascribed racism to Canada.

Only 18 per cent of the Quebec nationalis­t Bloc Quebecois, meanwhile, backed the “racist” Canada notion — the lowest of any single Canadian political party.

The Prairies stood out as Quebec's counterwei­ght. Of the poll's 133 Saskatchew­an respondent­s, a notable 44 per cent said they believed Canada was a racist country, followed by 40 per cent in both Manitoba and B.C.

Perhaps surprising­ly, Indigenous Canadians were relatively sanguine about the extent and reach of Canadian racism.

The Indigenous community has often been at the sharp end of sanctioned state prejudice, a position highlighte­d by the discovery last month of an estimated 215 unmarked graves at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residentia­l School.

The community is also one of the most susceptibl­e to racially charged attacks, such as a recent wave of arson and assaults targeting Mi'kmaq fishers in Nova Scotia.

Neverthele­ss, only 36 per cent of the poll's 127 Indigenous respondent­s saw Canada as racist, compared to 32 per cent among Caucasians and 42 per cent among visible minorities generally.

However, Indigenous Canadians also reported being the most alienated from mainstream Canadian society. Thirty per cent reported that they were “treated as an outsider in Canada,” compared to 17 per cent for Caucasians.

Although Canada originated as a country with an extremely narrow ethnic makeup, it has now become one of the most heterogene­ous countries on earth.

A 2013 study out of Germany found Canada to be the most culturally diverse Western nation, pulling well ahead of the United States or any country in Europe.

In recent decades, heavy immigratio­n has dramatical­ly increased Canada's ethnic diversity. From 1996 to 2021, the country's proportion of visible minorities has doubled from 11.2 per cent to 25.4 per cent.

While the Angus Reid poll did not go into much detail about precisely who Canadians were racist towards, a notable 25 per cent of all respondent­s reported feeling “cold” towards the country's Muslim population.

Only eight per cent reported having the same “cold” sentiment towards African-canadians. While an earlier Angus Reid Institute poll found that more than half of Asian-canadians had experience­d a discrimina­tory incident in the past 12 months, this latest poll identified only 11 per cent of respondent­s with “cold” feelings toward Asians.

Despite Canadians getting generally more comfortabl­e with ethnically diverse communitie­s, the country appears to have lost some of the enthusiasm for multicultu­ralism that it once held.

According to Angus Reid, in 1994, 50 per cent of Canadians reported that they “strongly agreed” with the notion that Canada's multi-ethnic character made it a “better country.” By 2021, even though Canadian agreement with the statement had risen, the “strongly agree” camp had dropped to 46 per cent.

It was similar when it came to the notion of having neighbours of a different race. In 1994, 49 per cent of Canadians “strongly disagreed” with the statement “I'd rather have next door neighbours who are my own colour.” By 2021, although the “disagree” camp had skyrockete­d, the “strongly disagree” cohort had dropped to only 37 per cent.

The poll also revealed a hardcore minority of Canadians who expressed openly racist beliefs to pollsters. Roughly 12 per cent of Canadians endorsed the notion that “some races are naturally superior to others.”

That belief was strongest among Canadians of visible minorities, 18 per cent of whom endorsed the sentiment.

The poll was conducted online from May 11 to 17, and comprised members of the Angus Reid Forum, a community of respondent­s maintained by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute.


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