A quarter of Canadians would endorse a Trump-style ban on all Syrian refugees coming to Canada, a new poll reveals, and the country remains relatively split on how Ottawa should handle the refugee crisis in 2017.
The survey, conducted over three days in early February by the Angus Reid Institute, shows that 41 per cent of respondents think that the number of refugees (of all nationalities) coming to our shores this year is too high.
The government is aiming to bring 40,000 refugees into Canada this year.
On the flip side, however, nearly half (47 per cent) said that number is about right. Just 11 per cent said Ottawa should consider upping the total.
“The majority are not saying we should close the door,” noted Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.
“But the majority are almost just putting a bit of a hand up and saying ‘let’s take a breath here and let’s look at what we’re doing, and let’s make sure that the numbers are right, and that the ability to take people in and set them up for success is also properly arranged for.”
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Some of the numbers were good news for the Liberal government. Sixty-one per cent of poll respondents said they have been satisfied with the government’s approach to Syrian refugee resettlement since late 2015, and 57 per cent said Canada’s immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, made the right choice by keeping our resettlement goals steady in the wake of Donald Trump’s efforts to ban Syrian refugees entering the United States.
“The majority of Canadians do think that (Hussen’s decision) was the right call to make, so there’s a very practical perspective around this,” said Kurl.
But when it comes to integration, Canadians still have concerns.
Roughly half of respondents (54 per cent) had doubts, for instance, over whether refugee families make “enough effort” to fit in to Canadian society.
“There are some palpable concerns around the affects of refugee resettlement,” Kurl said.
“Around (questions like), will these refugees be welcomed in the communities in which they’re being resettled? Will they themselves make the transition and be able to assimilate into these communities?”
One quarter want a Trump-style ban
As for the quarter (25 per cent) of the poll respondents who think Canada should adopt a similar policy to the United States and temporarily ban all Syrian refugees, Kurl pointed out that they remain a minority — but a significant one.
Responses to the poll questions varied significantly depending on political affiliation and geographic region, Kurl noted, with Conservative voters and people living in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba more likely to oppose additional resettlement efforts.
Asked if Canadians would look back on the Syrian refugee resettlement as a success or a failure, Kurl noted that more people (28 per cent) said it would be regarded as a success compared to a similar poll conducted at the same time last year (23 per cent).
The number of respondents who predicted it would be remembered as a failure fell from 24 per cent to 19 per cent. Twenty-nine per cent said it would be neither a success nor a failure and the other 23 per cent weren’t sure.
“We’ve had the opportunity as Canadians to get over the initial concerns over a very quick on-boarding and arrival of 25,000 refugees primarily from Syria over a three-month period,” Kurl said.
“Most people have not necessarily been affected negatively or seen enough negativity to, a year later, be less inclined to say it’s going to be unsuccessful. But (there’s) a lot of ambivalence.”
The Angus Reid Institute self-commissioned, paid for, and conducted the online survey from Feb. 6 to Feb. 9, 2017, among a representative randomized sample of 1,508 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.