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

Executive Summary

The goal of this report is to review all publicly-available data relating to issues of multiculturalism and immigration from 2006 to 2009. The report draws together data from many different polling firms, across a wide range of issues. Where possible, data from recent years are presented alongside historical trends and, while the focus is on Canada, several cross-national results are also reviewed.

The resulting data provide a relatively thorough picture of where Canadians stand on issues of multiculturalism and immigration. Some general themes emerge from this review. First, Canadian support for multiculturalism and immigration is relatively high, and has changed very little over the past several years. Second, while there is a good degree of support for diversity, there is also consistent and relatively strong support for a certain degree of assimilation. Canadians support levels of immigration that are relatively high by international standards; they are tolerant of different cultures, languages, and religions; and they are supportive of a wide range of minority rights. However, Canadians also show strong support for individual equality; a majority agree that “laws and norms should not be modified to accommodate minorities” (Angus Reid Strategies, 2008), and disagree that “minority groups need special rights” (Canadian Election Studies, 2000-2008); and a considerable minority believes that immigrants should “blend into Canadian society” rather than be “free to maintain religious/cultural practices” (Environics, 2006).

These findings are discussed in detail in this report, alongside results from roughly 80 different polling questions on issues of multiculturalism and immigration. We argue that the picture that emerges is of a Canadian public with strong, but conditional, support for multiculturalism and immigration.

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