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Canadians want limits on accommodating minorities - SES Research/Policy Options Survey

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By significant majorities in Canada as a whole, and by overwhelming majorities in Quebec, Canadians and Quebecers declare limits to reasonable accommodation.

When asked whether it was reasonable to accommodate religious and cultural minorities, or whether immigrants should fully adapt to culture in Canada, only 18 percent of respondents said reasonable accommodation best reflected their personal views, as opposed to 53 percent who thought immigrants should fully adapt (21 percent who agreed with neither statement).

In Quebec, only 5.4 percent of respondents thought reasonable accommodation reflected their views, while fully 76.9 percent thought immigrants should fully adapt.

Interestingly, the parts of Canada with fewer new Canadians were more likely to support accommodation. Leaders from across Canada should be watching the developments in Quebec, because they may well be a precursor of things to come in other parts of Canada.

In the support materials on the right is the release and the detailed polling tables. Survey results touch upon awareness of reasonable accommodation, and views about accommodating minorities at work, school, public places etc. Quite a bit of very interesting information.

What do you think? Should Canada accommodate minorities or should minorities adapt/accommodate to Canada?

Cheers, Nik

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The suburbs around Paris used to be a peaceful Christian enclave. Now it is an I... more

Bernard (Ontario) 25 Sep 11:57

This result is really depressing--I've always imagined that Canadians were far m... more

Jim McDonald (Nova Scotia) 25 Sep 13:17

This poll reflects the problem John Tory is having with his faith based school ... more

parnel (Ontario) 25 Sep 05:45

Canada has been very accommodating in the past, however, I think that we now nee... more

Bernicessssss (Ontario) 09 Oct 23:26

Having watched the Bouchard / Taylor Commission hearings for hours, I am led to ... more

Tom Good (British Columbia) 11 Oct 04:07

To me, this poll raises the much larger question of Canada's coming demographic ... more

PMK (Ontario) 25 Sep 11:02



This poll reflects the problem John Tory is having with his faith based school policy. While it has other angles to it, the general perception is that it is a sop to immigrant communities.

Quebec has long been ahead of the ROC in these types of issues that generally come into the national conscious later on. They have had non religious schools for a few years now and were the first province to fully "secularize" education and make the school boards linguistic (English and French only) as opposed to the approach Tory is trying. Some of that relected a nationalistic bent but was also done to better integrate Quebec society and in fact has accompished that. Part of the fallout is that nationalism,the separatist version, has also dropped off. The ROC can learn a lot from this.

Immigrants will get fully immersed in Canadian culture only if they are nutured to do so. Our federal policies have been somewhat geared to cultural minorities keeping their "old Country' ways intact. This obviously goes against the grain of Canadian thinking per your poll. There is nothing wrong with celebrating one's culture but it must be also be part of the integration process as well.

[updated Tue Sep 25 05:45:33 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 05:45

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The irony of course is that "reasonable accommodation" felt by Quebecers at less than a third of the national average doesnt align with their expectations of the extent to which the r.o.c. should "reasonably accommodate" Quebec in Canada

Overall, this does not speak well of Quebec.

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25 Sep 07:21

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By definition the term "reasonable accommodation" has its limitations. Having no accommodation would not be reasonable, nor would total accommodation.
I would lean toward as much accommodation as reasonably possible. There would very few select issues that I would object to. None come to m ind at the moment. Diversity is an essential ingredient in nature. Diversity is humans even at the community level goes along way to ensure survival. I welcome that diversity. How boring would it be without it?
My ancestors came here in 1760. I haven't "accommodated" yet, and don't intend to. :-)

[updated Tue Sep 25 07:46:37 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 07:46

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I am not sure that this question is worded clearly enough to elicit a truly informative response. The term "reasonable accomodation" has been tossed around in Quebec over the last year by a wide variety of people with a very different intentions behind it. For some it is not objecting to the wearing of veils while for others it means publicly funded religious schools and for some it is a code behind which racism lurks waiting to oppress whomever we don't like this week.

The detail on what kind of institutions should accomodate differences is fascinating because the workplace, the only completely private space, got the lowest results for accomodation, which would suggest that accomodation is somehow a public value that people feel easier about refusing privately.

It seems to me that no matter what your view, there will be existing values and practices in the country to which newcomers will need to adapt and there will be values and practices brought by newcomers that will change the way the existing society behaves. This interplay can be reasonable or unreasonable, it can help or hinder and it can be difficult to find the respectful and constructive way to resolve apparent conflicts, but I would suspect few people would call their own view on how the interaction should play out unreasonable. I would be interested in specific examples of where people feel justified in limiting religious or cultural expression. Is it ok that little girls wear head coverings while playing soccer? Is the expression of "christian" views against homosexuality, no matter how hurtful to others, reasonable expression because it stems from the majority culture? Personally, I would like to Canadians drop any discussion of the limits to tolerance in favour of an exploration of the benefits of diversity. Let's talk about how we have managed to make our country stronger while other nations have failed. Why does Canada have no race riots. And while we're at it, let's look at how the newcomers from France and Britain failed to accomodate First Nations and how that should inform this debate.

[updated Tue Sep 25 10:11:55 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 10:11

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To me, this poll raises the much larger question of Canada's coming demographic crisis and our current lack of leadership from our business and political elites. If there's an issue screaming for "leadership" and hard choices, it's this one.

Here's my reading of where we are: Canadians do not want to accommodate minorities; our rapidly aging society has significant consequences for our economy and standard of living; immigrants are a critical source of population growth; yet our society is not open to accomodating immigrants. Canada, we have a problem!

[updated Tue Sep 25 11:02:32 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 11:02

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The suburbs around Paris used to be a peaceful Christian enclave. Now it is an Islamic hellhole. The country of Lebanon used to be a peaceful Christian nation. Now the followers of the great deciever are on the verge of taking over and it too is often a war zone. Canadians are peace loving tolerant people and we want to keep it that way. Most immigrants have contributed to the development of peaceful diversity. There is only one group that can poison this balance,and it is members of the so-called "Religion of Peace" that takes offence at just about anything, demands special privileges everywhere, uses women as population bombs, and tries to take over any place it gains a plurality. The results of this survey shows there is a significant number of Canadians who see this and want measures taken to prevent Canada from becoming subject to the proposed re-establishment of the Caliphate and replacement of our constitution with shariah law. The Stop Islamization of Europe movement (SIOE) has been established ( If need be, a Stop Islamization of Canada organization will be established too.

[updated Tue Sep 25 11:57:34 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 11:57

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Jim McDonald

This result is really depressing--I've always imagined that Canadians were far more accepting and tolerant than this suggests. It's also disturbing that anyone objects to something that is identified in its definition as 'reasonable'.
The data would be easier to interpret, though, if we knew a little more about the assumptions that underlie the answers. What exactly is the 'Canadian' culture to which immigrants are expected to adapt? And what aspects in particular of their native cultures do respondants require them to abandon? I doubt that anyone is thinking of traditional dress or diet or folk-dances here.
If the real substance of the question is about importing violent religious conflict--which is on many people's minds these days--, the answers are easier to understand. But they're still frighteningly wrong-headed.

[updated Tue Sep 25 13:17:39 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 13:17

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I think, with all due respect, that conduction opinion polls regarding human rights of minorities can be a dangerous thing, even in a democracy, or perhaps because we are in a democracy where the majority (this may be disputed in the current Canadian context) rules. By design it is looking at the opinions of the general public (i.e. the majority) with respect to the accommodation of a minority group. The Charter of Right and Freedoms is precisely to protect the rights of minorities against the will of the majority. It seems to me self-evident that: “The greater the accommodation in question and the smaller the minority group the stronger the results of the opinion poll may be against accommodation; but, the greater the need for protection.”

As an extreme example, one need only ask one’s self what the results of an opinion poll would likely have been on the Chinese Head Tax (or, on the free accommodation of Chinese immigrants) during its hay-day.

I am a strong believer in a free and open society. However, I have a lot of difficulty understanding the benefits of such opinion polls or what the possible purpose(s) might be, except perhaps, to illustrate the need and importance of fundamental laws such as the Charter and of we, Canadians, being vigilant in their application. We have emerged into a Golden Age of Human Rights, lets not allow anything to cause us to drift back into the Dark Ages.

Lloyd MacIlquham

[updated Tue Sep 25 15:35:14 -0400 2007]

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25 Sep 15:35

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Tom Good

Oh, boy, Nik, this topic will certainly get the pot boiling. The American melting pot is my ideal. An American first then an American of this or that ancestry. Trudeau's multicultural society has been an excellent formula for societal / cultural troubles wherever its likes have been applied-----think of the troubles across Europe and the wonderful cultural ghettos of today, if that is what one wants and I do not.

One comes to this country because it offers something better in opportunities, law and stability. Immigrants have an obligation to speak and read one of the official languages BEFORE citizenship is granted and the federal government has an obligation to see the resources are there to do exactly that-----it has failed miserably. Canadian first then ethnic roots second-----seems these two are reversed too often. If it was CANADIAN first, then I do not see "reasonable accommodation" being an issue. The issue is that a minority of new immigrants apparently do not want to be Canadian let alone Canadian first. Canada is possibly an economic parking lot.

I went to elementary school on the West Coast with Japanese children who were Canadian born and as Canadian as myself. Their parents were not allowed to vote and university education was denied them. The Japanese were "kept" in a cultural ghetto then "relocated" as "the enemy" inland for the duration of the war. The China town ghetto was toward the central part of my town and I met the Chinese-Canadian kids in high school during the war years but their parents suffered the same restrictions regarding voting and access to higher education and the professions. The Indian reserve was at the very south end of town and we never saw those kids who were disbarred from public schools or any secondary school, and just about everything else. Those groups have the right to scream for accommodation but I do not hear it. What I do hear are the "do gooder" groups, the human rights groups saying Canadians must change---offer accommodation to make recent immigrants "feel at home". This IS my home in case someone forgets and the Quebecois evidently have a better understanding of "home". Newcomers are welcome to my home but they are not the landlord ! ! !

Immigrants of the past came to Canada with their diversity from over the world, as did my ancestors, because of the opportunities they could make for themselves in the new land. I think they collectively and through diversity made a stable, prosperous, law abiding modern democratic western nation---CANADA. What is wrong with that ? ? ?

[updated Wed Sep 26 02:57:51 -0400 2007]

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26 Sep 02:57

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Hello Nik,

As you know it was the adq in Qc who started this ball rolling. With the rest of Canada, I believe that it will be simpler to identify with solutions, however, in this province it is quite complicated.

The first rounds were spell-binding, but as I listened to those who appeared before Charles Taylor, Nobel prize winner, and M. Bouchard, from another area, found that this question could be phylosophical, founded on fears, religious, biased, and of course, as newly elected Mme. Marois stated that "French" is where it all starts for her...although we are still a bilingual province. Some of the theories that were forwarded to this commission will never be settled, because we are dealing with daily events with people who want to deal with their normal lives and activities, and interact easily socially.

I found some of the points, legitimate, that were brought forward, even as to the economy, whereby it could be costly to all if we should adhere to all of those accomodations....

In my humble view this will have to be settled by today's standards, and those of the future, and review our Charter of Rights to address those questions.

One might even say goodbye to multi-culturalism if we go by the hardliners...

I believe that what is law in one's Country goes for everyone. Church and State must be separate. The State does not have to pay for religious institutions...let the communities pay for their places of worship. The government subsidisies for the poor, but no Church has ever got rid of poverty. I don't see that we should have tax receipts even for funding any place of worship. We are at war with Afghanistan trying to free women who are under the taliban, and people who come here to live in a democracy should not have to live by the standards that are imposed on them.

Religions and greed have always been the root of wars.

For instance, the law of the Khoran states that wherever immigrants go, they have to uphold the law of that land! It is quite clear. To induce further accomodations would be giving those who immigrate here the right to live in ghettos, meaning that they would comply to their communities only. It is also up to us to see that they are adequately informed of the lifestyle in this Country, and genuinely welcomed.

In the US some States had the "welcome wagon" in communities, and offered help, information to newly arrived residents. It was just a social call, but one that could be meaningful and beneficial if you wanted to integrate with your newly acquired community.

I still believe that when in Rome do as the Romans do is the most objective outlook, and the best way to integrate in a Country of one's choice is to adhere to the majority, and I say this without prejudice to all.

I can see why Jean Charest left this matter to Charles Taylor, because his integrity and intelligence is outstanding. This is definately not a political debate.


[updated Wed Sep 26 07:13:53 -0400 2007]

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26 Sep 07:13

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Tom Good

This "accommodation" topic is like shooting a scatter gun----everything is getting hit. Think I will sit in my foxhole as I make the following observations:
1.---French (and the languages of other industrial societies) is under threat over the world and it is NOT unique to Quebec. English is the language of commerce the world over whether we like it or not. If one is educated or is involved in any international business, tourism included, one learns English as a second language. When I was in occupied Berlin in the early 60s, the young people spoke English as fluently as I did. If one is born into an English speaking community today, one is born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Quebec will always be fighting a rear guard action. Tomorrow, it maybe Mandarin that is the threat---who knows ?
2.--This has been the age of cultural / linguistic identity. The British Isles has those pushing for cultural identity. How about the breakup of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia and the friction between the Flemish and the French speaking Wallons in Belgium. The list goes on in Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Somebody or some group always profits from these break-ups------also, somewhat like a divorce where they can live unhappily everafter ! ! ! Quebec is not unique but I would not choose to be adrift in an English speaking ocean on this continent----little like the ostrich manouvre with the head in the sand and its butt badly exposed. Quebec has a very valid part to play in Canada but on their own ? ? ?
3.---Some say they would not make a good American. Think about this. If I chose to immigrate to the United States, I would imagine I would have a good reason to begin with and the good sense to be pleased to be there and the good manners to keep my mouth shut if there were some aspects of American life or governance I did not agree with or like. My kids would be American and mighty pleased to be there like millions before them. Think of all the American-Italian cultural groups, American-Greek groups, American-Chinese groups and even the American-Scottish Highland Dancing groups. There is even a strong American-Russian group on the eastern seaboard. Have not heard any screaming for accommodation. Yes, I know, the treatment of their blacks has been and still is disgusting----somewhat like our native Indians.
4.---The vast majority of immigrants to Canada are delighted to be here as we are to have them. They try to be "Canadian" and their kids are Canadian if they have not been in a multi cultural ghetto.
5.---This burka-voting controversy----Marc Mayrand is correct---he does not write the law, neither does the Supreme Court but parliament does. Now here is something to ponder----do you show your face or even provide your picture with a mail-in / special ballot ???? You can print the application form off the Elections Canada site if you are a snowbird and a winter election is called.

[updated Sat Sep 29 16:37:40 -0400 2007]

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29 Sep 16:37

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Van_thumb WestReform (Suspended)

Canada must get rid of "Multiculturalism" once and for all the problems it causes. Chinese doing nothing about Burma, and we let them into this country, Nonsense. We need a stronger government in Cananda, and Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be rewritten, Minorities getting special treatment and the Majority pays for it. G.D. Trudeau and Chretien (The Corrupted One) from Quebec.

[updated Mon Oct 01 12:20:42 -0400 2007]

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01 Oct 12:20

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Canada has been very accommodating in the past, however, I think that we now need to be more protective of the original groups. Although I love the multiculturalism, I sense that there is some hidden fear that we may have gone to far. I think that although we are together physically we are separate emotionally. So we may say that we are fully integrated which in appearance and on the surface we are, however, if we were to listen to people's private views it may be another matter altogether. Privately, I sense a lot of fear, and resentment, and remorse, and a wish for things to go back to the way they were.

People are usually most comfortable with their own. Sure if the numbers are small then we are welcoming and accepting (as proven by the survey - the provinces with the least multiculturalism favour it and support it the most, the provinces with the most multiculturalism no longer support the accommodation to the same extent). Therefore, we need to slow down the trend and accommodate the original culture more.


[updated Tue Oct 09 23:26:45 -0400 2007]

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09 Oct 23:26

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Tom Good

Having watched the Bouchard / Taylor Commission hearings for hours, I am led to conclude the presenters are not too different to what maybe heard in most regions of the country. The exception is the sovereignist card played hard by some presenters. In many instances accommodation has been the function of political correctness carried too far thus the backlash. As many presenters inferred or said, the past history / culture of Quebec cannot be swept away and neither should it be disregarded in this secular society. The falling Quebec birthrate, indeed, not unique to Quebec, appears to be a major underlying cause of uneasiness for the future via immigration yet none of the presenters addressed that problem.

Time and again, presenters implied that integration of immigrants has failed miserably. I agree. Had immigrants been reguired to show mastery of one of the official languages, in Quebec's case, French, then "accommodation" likely would not have been the problem it currently appears to be. Another major problem, not unique to Quebec, is the lack of recognition for foreign professional credentials thus preventing the qualified doing what they were supposed to do when they immigrated to Quebec or the rest of Canada, for that matter. One strength Quebec has is a secular public school system based upon language but they do seem to deny recognition that English is the language of commerce in the world today. Ontario has dramatically reinforced that a secular public education system is seen as the voter's choice. I agree.

I believe the "reasonable accommodation" hearings have arisen because of the failure of government to provide finances to assure and demand integration of immigrants not only in Quebec but in all areas of my Canada. I believe many immigrants feel "let down" too, by the lack of resources for integration and retire behind the walls of their comfortable multi cultural ghettos where they are usually "outside" what is considered "Canadian" and THAT is the problem. The provision of welfare is NOT integration. I applaud the Quebecois for having the guts to speak up on "reasonable accommodation".

[updated Thu Oct 11 04:07:12 -0400 2007]

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11 Oct 04:07

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I think and feel that minorities should adapt to Canada. I am a canadian woman from the maritimes whose family has been in canada for 400 years. I am mixed Irish and French. I am myself a double minority although I am white. My ancestors have to accomodate to the english culture on both sides that is why we lost our cultures. Every other group that came also had to do this, this is what is and was expected of them and it was out of respect. They kept their music, and food at home but otherwise they were canadian outside. This is what is required now as well. Also womens rights are going down every day in canada due to some of these backward cultures who view women very poorly.

[updated Sat Sep 14 05:26:20 -0400 2013]

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14 Sep 05:26

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