Shown in August 2017, migrants enter Canada from the U.S at an illegal crossing. The many thousands of migrants who have claimed refugee status after crossing has likely contributed to a hardening of Canadian attitudes against refugees and immigrants. (Reuters- Christine Muschi)

Canadians’ attitudes hardening against immigrants, refugees

The latest online survey of Canadian attitudes towards immigration seems to indicate a shift towards a less welcoming position.

A poll commissioned by Canada’s publicly-owned broadcaster, CBC, showed that a clear majority (64%) said illegal immigration is becoming a serious problem.

The poll in early June by Public Square Research and Maru/Blue asked some 4,500 Canadians a variety of questions about society and immigration and refugee issues.

Some 57 per cent also said Canada should not be accepting more refugees, while 76 per cent said Canada should be doing more to encourage skilled workers to immigrate.

Experts say the findings are not surprising in that there is a general shift in many countries around the world against migrants and immigration. This attitude has not been helped in this country, due to the tens of thousands of people walking across an undefended border from the U.S into Canada to then claim asylum following a tweet by Canada’s Prime Minister in 2017.

It is interesting to note that this survey echoes that of two other separate polls, but these three polls conflict with a fourth.

An online Leger poll also conducted this past June commissioned by The Canadian Press had similar results to the CBC poll. The Leger poll showed 63 per cent saying the government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts.

Another online poll, this one by IPSOS, conducted earlier in the year for Global News found 54 per cent of respondents indicating Canada is too welcoming of immigrants.

Yet an online poll by Environics also earlier this spring claimed a much different result saying that refugee and immigration issues were well down on the list of Canadian’s concerns and that “Overall, Canadians’ views about immigrants and refugees have held remarkably steady since last fall, and in a few cases have become more positive”.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minisiter Ralph Goodale were in Montreal in May 2018 to give an update on how the government is handling asylum seekers. The backlog to process asylum claims is at record levels along with waiting times. Minister Hussen is mentioned in the Canadian Press saying he is concerned about the changing attitude saying employers tell him they need workers and new immigrants are key to meeting shortages (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

It is almost certain that the concern over immigration and refugees will become a major election issue. The governing slightly left of centre Liberals, the leftist New Democratic Party, and the opposition slightly right of centre Conservatives are all setting out their positions in the lead up to the October election.

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