Poll on race has troubling implications for Canada
By Tasha Kheiriddin
Global News | March 14, 2017
Still think there is no Islamophobia in Canada? Think again.
A new poll commissioned by CROP-Radio Canada examined Canadians’ attitudes towards different minority and immigrant groups, and found that despite priding ourselves on our tolerance and openness, it does not extend equally to all groups. When it came to integration into Canadian society, only 12 per cent of respondents believe that Muslims are very well integrated into Canadian society, compared to 47 per cent who hold this opinion of Italians, 43 per cent of Jews, and 31 per cent of Asian Canadians. The group considered second least-integrated was Haitians, at 14 per cent.
Additionally, one in four Canadians and one in three Quebecers polled is very or more or less in favour of banning Muslim immigration to Canada, a la Donald Trump. And 60 per cent of Quebec and 44 per cent of Canadian respondents feel very or somewhat unfavourable to the building of a mosque, a far greater percentage than object to the construction of the houses of worship of other faiths.
Those numbers don’t surprise Amira Elghawaby, communications director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “Different polls indicate that there are negative attitudes towards Muslims in Canada. According to Abacus and Forum research numbers from 2016, four-in-10 Canadians hold biased views towards Muslims,” she told iPolitics.
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According to Elghawaby, “People make up opinions based on how are they feeling. For politicians to have any kind of impact, they need to understand mood of the community they are speaking to, rather than base everything on evidence.” She cites statistics that show that hate crimes against Muslims have doubled in a recent three-year period, noting that these numbers may not resonate with people looking at issues under motion 103. “They may still feel negative about singling out Islamophobia as an issue to be examined,” and thus object to the motion.
And while politicians have a role in effecting change – Elghawaby cites the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate as an example — she also highlights efforts by Canadian Muslims, such as opening up mosques to fellow Canadians in and other interfaith activities so that people get to know one another, as key to changing hearts and minds. “A lot has to do with portrayals of stories around Canadian Muslims, which are often in a negative context. When people actually know Muslims in their lives, they have a better impression of the entire community.”