Canada 150 celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1, 2017. Photo by Alex Tétreault
Conservatives and those with a dim economic outlook are more likely to view immigrants as “costly to society” than other Canadians, new research suggests.
Accurate information about the benefits of bringing in new residents, however, can change minds, according to the latest report from the Digital Democracy Project, a joint initiative by the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University.
While Canadians show “modest” levels of nativism overall, “Liberal and NDP partisans score far lower than Conservatives in their expressed nativist sentiment,” researchers found.
“Nativism — feelings of support for native-born citizens over immigrants — is more common among conservatives, but also among those who feel the economy or their personal finances are getting worse.”
The researchers measured “nativism” by asking a series of questions they said were designed to tap into perceptions of “whether immigrants are costly to society.”
They found Canadians broadly overestimate the number of migrants and refugees entering the country, with almost a quarter of those polled believing that refugee intake is higher than it really is.
“Nativism — feelings of support for native-born citizens over immigrants — is more common among conservatives, but also among those who feel the economy or their personal finances are getting worse,” says a new @ppforumca @MaxBellSchool report
Twenty-nine per cent of those surveyed said too many immigrants were from visible minorities. The authors noted they interpreted this number cautiously given a tendency for respondents to “provide answers that are socially acceptable but not a reflection of their true sentiment.”
The People’s Party of Canada — the leader of which, Maxime Bernier, has campaigned on allowing “fewer immigrants” into Canada — was not included in the examination of nativism. The report said the sample size was too small.
In asking respondents a series of questions about policy, researchers also found that Canadians were more often “uninformed” rather than “misinformed.”
Providing respondents with details of the economic benefits of immigration made people, particularly conservatives, more aware, and more supportive, they said. MORE