Sheila Nonato, Vancouver Sun, April 25, 2012
Multiculturalism remains popular among Canadians, a new study finds, but older Canadians seem to have more reservations about Canada’s model of managing diversity.
The results are from a poll done for the Mosaic Institute and the Association for Canadian Studies.
Eighty-two per cent of respondents aged 18 to 24 said they believed multiculturalism should be exported to other countries to help them address ethnic, religious or linguistic conflicts. Only 57 per cent of those aged 65 and older took the same views. Those aged 25 to 34 polled at 68 per cent, 35-to 44-year-olds and 45-to 54-year-olds both polled at 60 per cent and 55-to 64-year-olds polled at 64 per cent.
Overall, 64 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they believe that Canada’s brand of multiculturalism is a model for other countries.
The survey said Canadians continue to favour multiculturalism and value newcomers’ contributions to Canada, but it also highlighted a “pro-found generational divide” on questions of diversity and the strength of the Canadian social fabric. “As age increases, respondents demonstrate increasingly stronger reservations about the functioning of multiculturalism and the social effects of large-scale immigration,” it said.
However, “despite a perceived growing backlash against multiculturalism, it is still supported by a majority of Canadians.”
Multiculturalism’s strongest support, the study noted, is among those “who have grown up knowing nothing else.”
“It is clearly also the case, however, that older Canadians are more skeptical of multiculturalism, worry more about the possible deleterious impacts of ethnic diversity, and express difficulty in moving beyond group silos,” it said.
“There is an evident need to bridge the experiences of young and old, and host a more inclusive national conversation about diversity, its effects, and our approach to managing it,” the study suggested.
According to the survey, Canadians have a positive view of the societal effect of new waves of immigration, with 51 per cent saying newcomers are accepting of different cultures, races and religions. Sixty-nine per cent of 18-to 24-year-olds agreed, com-pared to 46 per cent of those 55 to 64 years of age and 42 per cent of Canadians over 65.
It found a generational gap between Canadians’ attitudes on whether it is easy for people from different racial, religious and cultural communities to form close relationships with each other. Eighty per cent of 18-to 24-year-olds agreed, compared to 46 per cent of those over 65 years of age.
Leger Marketing conducted the study of a web panel of 1,522 Canadians over the period of March 17-18. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.