ARCHIVED – A literature review of Public Opinion Research on Canadian attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration, 2006-2009

2. Canadian attitudes towards multiculturalism and immigration (Continued)

2.4. Canada in comparative context

This section, including Figures 50 through 55, uses results from surveys that allow comparing Canadian attitudes with those of populations in other countries. The themes covered are necessarily limited to those where surveys are available with the same questions repeated across several countries.

The sources used include the World Values Survey, an international survey conducted periodically, spanning the years from 1981 to 2007, in up to 97 countries; [Note 7] and combined results from the Environics 2006 Focus Canada Survey and the 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, both including a few questions with the same wording, and, together, covering Canada, Great Britain, France, Spain and Germany.

The results presented include inter-group trust across nationalities and religions in the countries covered by the World Values Survey, and some issues regarding relations with Muslims in the more limited number of countries covered by the other two surveys combined.

Levels of interpersonal trust are shown in Figures 50 and 51, first for “people of another nationality” and then for “people of another religion.” In each case, Canada ranks amongst the top five most trusting countries.

Questions on hostility towards Muslims provide a glimpse of how Canadians see levels of discrimination, in comparison with other countries (Figure 52). The Canadian population-at-large believes that there is less hostility towards Muslims in Canada than do other respondents with respect to the situation in their countries. For example, 28% of Canadians in a 2006 Focus Canada survey believed that “most” Canadians are hostile towards Muslims, as compared with 40% or more in each of four other countries (comparison to Canada made using results from the 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey). That Canadian Muslims also see less hostility than do Muslims in other countries is particularly telling; 17% of Muslims in Canada believe that that “most” Canadians are hostile towards Muslims, as compared with 31% or more in other countries. That being said, almost one in five Muslims in Canada believes that most Canadians are hostile towards Muslims (Environics Focus Canada Survey, 2006).

Support for one specific instance of accomodation related to the public wearing of religious clothing is explored in Figure 53. Canadians are not noticeably more tolerant of Muslim headscarves than are the British or Spanish – 36% of Canadians believe that banning headscarves is a “good idea,” compared with 29% in Britain and 43% in Spain. Within Quebec, support for banning headscarves is 53% — stronger support than that seen in Britain and Spain, and equal to Germany, though still 25 percentage points lower than in France. Support for a specific instance of accommodation here reflects what was evident in preceding sections — when asked, Canadians show high levels of support for minority rights generally speaking, but more middling levels of support for specific examples of accommodation. Perceived levels of experienced discrimination, however, may not be noticeably lower in Canada than in other countries, as evident by the results in Figure 54 from a 2006 Focus Canada survey of Canadian Muslims and their personal experiences of discrimination, compared to international results from the 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey.

Figure 55 shows how people feel about “adopting the customs of my country” as a condition for citizenship, across a wide range of countries. As seen earlier, Canadians, while supporting diversity and immigration generally, also lean in the direction of assimilation over accommodation; this trend is similarly evident in these country based comparative data. For example, according to the World Values Survey, 58% of Canadians see adopting the customs of their country as “very important”; another 32% see it as “rather important.” This distribution of opinion is no different from the United States, and markedly more assimilation-oriented than most other OECD countries in the sample.

Figure 50: I’d like to ask you how much you trust people from various groups. Could you tell me for each whether you trust people from this group completely, somewhat, not very much or not at all? People of another nationality:


(2005-2008, World Values Survey)

Text version: Trusting people from various groups: People of another nationality

Figure 51: I’d like to ask you how much you trust people from various groups. Could you tell me for each whether you trust people from this group completely, somewhat, not very much or not at all? People of another religion:


(2005-2008, World Values Survey)

Text version: Trusting people from various groups: People of another religion

Figure 52: In your opinion, how many (Canadians, British, French, Spanish, Germans) do you think are hostile toward Muslims? Would you say most, many, just some or very few? [% answering “most”]


(2006, Focus Canada 2006-4, Muslim sample size: 500;
Can sample size: 2,045; International data from 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey)

Text version: Hostility toward Muslims

Figure 53: Some countries have decided to ban the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women in public places, including schools. Do you think this is a good idea or a bad idea? [% answering “a good idea”]


(2006, Focus Canada 2006-4, Muslim sample size: 500;
Can sample size: 2,045; International data from 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey)

Text version: Banning the wearing of headscarves by Muslim women in public places, and schools

Figure 54: In the last two years, have you personally had a bad experience due to your race, ethnicity, or religion, or hasn’t this happened to you? (Muslims only) [% answering “yes”]


(2006, Focus Canada 2006-4, sample size (Muslims only): 500;
International data from 2005 Pew Global Attitudes Survey)

Text version: Bad experience due to your race, ethnicity, or religion

Figure 55: In your opinion, how important should the following be as requirements for somebody seeking citizenship of your country? Adopting the customs of my country.


(2005-2008 World Values Survey)


Footnote

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