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February 8, 2011 / mike54martin

We’re Not Conservative: We’re Canadian

Some interesting and reassuring news from the latest edition of Focus Canada, the national tracking tool from Environics Research as first reported by Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail.

The good news is that despite five years of Conservative rule and a pliant media that has snatched up every crumb they have offered like manna from heaven, Canada and the vast majority of Canadians are not turning to conservatism as the way of the future.

Some highlights from the Focus Canada report:


Canadians still believe that the current tax system is unfair and a strong majority continue to believe that taxes are fundamentally a good thing because they help support the high quality of life enjoyed in this country. Two-thirds of Canadians believe the disparities in income between rich and poor in this country are growing, although this proportion is smaller than in 2008 and for most of the previous two decades. Eight in ten believe government has a responsibility to reduce such disparities.

Government Spending and Priorities

Canadian’s spending priorities of the federal government have remained largely stable over the past decade, with some areas seen as having higher priority (e.g., reducing child poverty, education, health care) and others having lower priority (national defence, justice system, foreign aid).

Health Care

Canadians maintain confident about the capacity of the system to provide quality health care when it’s needed, and care for those who are most vulnerable. Three-quarters continue to believe Canada’s health care is among the best in the world. There is also strong public support for maintaining the current publicly-funded, single tier health care system. At the same time, a small but increasing majority of Canadians also favour allowing individuals to purchase private health care services to ensure timely access that may not be possible through the public system.

Immigration and multiculturalism

Canadians continue to hold largely positive views about the high level of immigration to this country and clear majorities disagree with the view that current immigration levels are too high and that immigrants take away jobs from other Canadians. Eight in ten continue to agree that immigration has a positive impact on the economy overall. Canadians are concerned however about how newcomers integrate culturally into the country. A growing majority agree too many immigrants do not adopt Canadian values, and believe ethnic groups should blend into mainstream society. At the same time, there is increasing acceptance of the notion that ethnic and racial groups need support from others in order to succeed in this country. There are also some concerns expressed about Muslims living in this country and their desire to remain distinct rather than adopt mainstream Canadian customs.

Aboriginal peoples

On who bears responsibility for the problems experienced by the country’s Aboriginal peoples, Canadians are almost twice as likely to point the finger at government policies and the attitudes of non-Aboriginals as they are to blame Aboriginal peoples themselves. In terms of addressing current issues facing Aboriginal peoples in Canada today, the public places the greatest priority on improving living and social conditions on reserves, followed by promoting economic development and improving social conditions in urban areas.

Crime, justice and social issues

Half of Canadians now believe crime rates are increasing, the lowest proportion recorded since the early 1990s. Strong majorities continue to feel safe in their own neighbourhood, consistent with opinions expressed as far back as the mid-1970s. Canadians continue to place greater faith in prevention strategies (e.g., education) than in law enforcement (detecting crime and punishing lawbreakers), with the former perspective strengthening modestly since 2008. A clear majority support current federal gun regulations (including the national registry), with the level of strong support up noticeably since 2005. Seventy percent of Canadians support same-sex marriage and three-quarters of Canadians now support for a woman’s right to have an abortion.

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