By KATHLEEN HARRIS -- Sun Media
17 January 2007
Poll: Cdns split on racial integration
A majority of Canadians want tighter controls over the influx of immigrants and believe more must be done to better integrate the nation's newcomers. A Sun Media poll conducted by Leger Marketing shows 57% think there should be greater scrutiny before citizenship is awarded, while only 3% say the rules should loosen up. Just over one-third believe current controls are sufficient. Leger VP Dave Scholz says that as a neighbour to the U.S., Canada is likely more "paranoid" about security concerns in the wake of Sept. 11. But the figures also reflect a strong desire to target immigrants who will help build a better Canada. "We want to make sure we have enough information, but we also want to make sure that this person is going to benefit Canada," Scholz said.
"Even though previous data has shown we're the fourth most-accepting country in the world when it comes to immigration, we don't believe it should be done haphazardly." Scholz said this loud call for a clampdown hints that many harbour a negative attitude toward immigrants, but it also makes a damning assessment of the system's ability to process claims and settle newcomers.
Of the thousands surveyed across the country, just over half believe immigrants blend in with ease while 45% think they have difficulty integrating into Canadian society. Scholz said that figure suggests governments and agencies aren't doing enough to assist new Canadians, forcing people who may have cultural or language barriers to fend for themselves. "If we're going to be a country that continues to grow based on immigration, the government needs to make sure the controls are there and the way it awards citizenship is done properly," he said. "But it must also make sure not to leave people alone to integrate themselves." The survey also shows more than half of Canadians think immigrants should be encouraged to settle outside major cities. Scholz said this result might speak to a broader objective of curbing the density of cities in favour of building up suburban and outlying areas. "I think this says, 'Let's not create downtown immigrant core populations - let's diversify and move around the country, be part of the bigger mix,'" he said. In Ontario, 54% think immigrants should move outside urban centres, while 44% held that view in the Prairies and only 40% in Alberta. The poll also shows 57% believe cultural minorities are treated fairly by the legal system, while less than half think the same is true of treatment by the media and police. This online Leger Marketing poll, commissioned by Sun Media, surveyed a representative national sample of 3,092 adult Canadians between December 27, 2006 and January 5, 2007. With this sample size, responses are considered accurate within plus or minus 1.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.