On one issue, Canadians are a lot less tolerant than Americans

On one issue, Canadians are a lot less tolerant than Americans

On one issue, Canadians are a lot less tolerant than Americans

Many Canadians pride themselves on being more multicultural and less suspicious of minorities than Americans, but new public opinion research being aired today in Montréal at a McGill Institute for the Study of Canada conference finds that Canadians are more likely than Americans to favour banning Muslim women from wearing their head scarfs in public places.

Université du Québec à Montréal political science professor Allison Harell presented a raft of results from a recent online survey of 1,600 Canadians and 1,800 Americans that tried to probe views related to the upswing of populism in the U.S., including attitudes towards the powers of government and the rights of minorities.

Perhaps not surprisingly, she found the familiar national traits of Canadian deference to public institutions and American suspicion of them borne out overall. “In general Americans are a little bit more fearful of government surveillance, they are a little bit more supportive of free-speech rights, regardless of the group, than Canadians are,” Harell said in an interview.

For instance, she found that 73 per cent of Canadians agree that “it should be illegal to say hateful things publicly about racial, ethnic and religious groups,” whereas only 55 per cent of Americans accepted limiting free speech when it turns hateful. Canadians are more inclined to accept the notion that career politicians, rather than “the people,” should make important policy decisions.

When it comes to issues around personal privacy and government surveillance, Harell’s research found that by far the majority of both Canadians and Americans don’t like the ideas of property being searched or telephone calls tapped without a warrant. But interestingly, and perhaps troublingly for a lot of Canadians, differences arise when it comes to opinion on policies directed at Muslims.

Among Canadians, 47 per cent would ban Muslim head scarfs in public, compared with just 30 per cent of Americans. As well, 51 per cent of Canadians like the idea of monitoring what happens in mosques, compared with 46 per cent of Americans.

Source: Maclean’s

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