Canada supports a ‘values’ test. But not the values of the far right

June 11, 2017

By Terry Glavin, McCleans |

It is a delicious paradox and it’s wholly counterintuitive. What’s one of the strongest feelings expressed by the otherwise liberal, laid-back and largely contented people revealed by our poll? It’s in the survey respondents’ support for a proposition most closely associated, fairly or not, with Canada’s disgruntled, anti-immigrant, Islamophobic fringe.

A whopping 84 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement, “New immigrants to Canada should be screened to ensure they share Canadian values.” Almost 50 per cent “strongly” agreed. That’s a higher register of strong feeling than the survey elicited in any other policy-related question.

Peculiar to the far-right edges of the Conservative party, the specific proposal to subject prospective immigrants to a “Canadian values” assessment in face-to-face interviews was a major plank in party leadership candidate Kellie Leitch’s campaign. Opposed by several other candidates and derided by Liberals and New Democrats as a dog whistle to bigots, Canadians, it would seem, are for it, with gusto. Only five per cent of survey respondents “strongly” disagreed with the proposition. That’s a slam dunk.

But here’s the paradox: It turns out that the “Canadian values” revealed in our poll are dramatically at odds with the values espoused by the loudest proponents of an immigrant “values” test. In other words, Canada’s rednecks should be careful what they wish for.

Almost all of the 17 primary values questions put to poll respondents elicited enthusiasm in varying degrees for “progressive” values and ambivalence about almost everything else. If it’s “Canadian values” you want embraced by the roughly 300,000 people who emigrate to Canada every year, you’ll have to screen out almost everybody except for liberals.

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