Voters Agree With Screening for “Anti-Canadian Values”

| Filed under: National, Social Issues

Voters Agree With Screening for “Anti-Canadian Values”

Majorities disapprove of Niqab in public service, citizenship ceremonies

In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1370 Canadian voters, two thirds agree that prospective immigrants should be screened for “anti-Canadian values” (67%), while one quarter disagree (24%) and one tenth don’t have an opinion (9%). Belief in cultural value screening is common to Gen X and Boomers (45 to 64 - 73%), males (70%) more so than females (64%), mid income groups ($60K to $80K - 72%), in Quebec (71%() and Ontario (70%) but not so much in the Atlantic provinces (56%), among Conservatives (87%) and the least educated (76%).

Equality seen to be key Canadian value

When asked to choose the most important Canadian value from a crowdsourced list of 8 items, the most commonly mentioned is “equality” (27%), followed by “patriotism” (15%), “fairness” (12%) and “tolerance” (11%). Values which are not seen to be as important include “diversity” (9%), “compassion” (7%), “duty” (5%) and “politeness” (4%). One tenth say something else is the most important Canadian value (9%). Among Conservatives, the most important value is “patriotism” (29%), followed by “equality” (19%). Among Liberals, “equality” is first (33%), followed distantly by “tolerance” (16%). Among New Democrats, the most important value is also “equality” (29%), followed by “patriotism” (16%). “Equality” is the most important Canadian value in all regions except the prairies, where “patriotism” (20%) and “compassion” (19%) lead.

More than half would prohibit Islamic clothing for women

As many as 6-in-10 Canadian voters would prohibit one or more articles of Islamic religious clothing for women (59%), including 3-in-10 who would ban the Hijab, the Niqab and the Burqa in public (29%), one sixth who would ban just the Niqab and Burqa (15%) and a similar proportion who would ban the Burqa only (15%). Just one third of Canadians say no garments should be prohibited (36%) and very few don’t share an opinion (5%). Conservative voters are especially unlikely to say no garments should be prohibited (22%), as are Francophones (12%). Those who identify ethnically as “Canadian” are less likely to say no garments should be prohibited (34%) than are those from other ethnic backgrounds.

Opposition to Niqab increases

Two thirds of Canadian voters oppose allowing women to wear the Niqab at citizenship ceremonies (68%), and this is an increase since we last asked this, just before the federal election (October 15, 2015 - 59%). An identical proportion opposes allowing women who are public servants to wear the Niqab (68%), and this is an increase from last year as well (October , 2015 - 62%). In each case, opposition to the Niqab is common to older Conservative males in mid income groups and those from Quebec.

Paradoxically, majority sees no state role in telling women what to wear

Despite the forgoing, a majority of Canadian voters agree the state has no role in telling women how to dress (58%), and just 3-in-10 think it does (29%). Agreeing the state has a role in fashion choices is typical of Quebec (41%), Conservatives (39%), to a lesser extent, New Democrats (32%) and among Northern Europeans (36% - caution: small base size).

Canadians ambivalent on impact of Syrian refugees

Canadian voters are equally likely to say the Syrian refugees admitted last Christmas  have had a positive impact (29%), have not had a positive impact (31%), and somewhat more do not have a view on the subject (40%). This is very similar to last December, when equal proportions said the Syrian refugees would have a positive impact (34% or a negative impact (34%). Fewer had no opinion back then (don’t know - 32%).

Canadians see us admitting too many immigrants, not too few

More than a third of Canadian voters think the country admits too many immigrants (38%), whereas just one third this proportion says too few are admitted (13%). The plurality say the right number of immigrants are allowed into Canada each year (41%) while one tenth have no opinion (8%). Believing too many immigrants are admitted is common to Gen X and Boomers (45 to 64 - 42%), to males (41%) more so than females (35%), to the least wealthy (less than $20K - 47%), in Ontario (42%) and Alberta (42%), among Conservatives (58%), but not Liberals (20%) and among the least educated (54%). Ethnic Canadians (41%) and Eastern Europeans (38% - Caution: small base size) are more likely than others to say too many immigrants are admitted.

6-in-10 agree Canadian values must displace immigrant values when they conflict

Six-in-ten Canadian voters agree that immigrants to Canada must abandon their native cultural values when they conflict with Canadian cultural values (59%), and this is very similar to when we last asked this question 3 years ago (March, 2013, agree - 62%). Agreeing immigrants must abandon their native values is common to the oldest (65+ - 67%), males (64%) rather than females (55%), mid income groups ($60K to $80K - 68%), in Quebec especially (74%), among Conservatives (75%) but not Liberals so much (48%), among the least educated (64%) and among Southern and Eastern Europeans (68% and 69% - caution: small base sizes).

“Of course, the conundrum here is that a majority of Canadians want to prohibit at least one article of clothing important to Muslim women, while a very similar majority (including many of the same people) claim the state has no role in telling women how to dress. This is how confused this issue has become. When the question of Canadian values is raised as well, a similar conundrum appears; the most important Canadian value is seen to be equality, yet majorities of Canadians want immigrants to Canada to abandon their values, or at least to check them at the door. It appears that Dr. Kellie Leitch has struck a chord with her call for a Canadian values test at the border" said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.