News / Toronto

Forty-one per cent say 'too many' minorities immigrating to Canada: survey

Four in ten Canadians believe “too many” immigrants who come to Canada aren’t white, according to a new poll.

Ekos research asked more than 2,000 Canadians: Of the immigrants who come to Canada, are too few, too many or the right amount visible minorities? Forty-one percent said “too many.”

Here’s what three GTA Canadians, who are immigrants and visible minorities, have to say about that.

Nav Bhatia often says that if there’s a heaven on Earth it’s Canada, the inclusive country he loves.

But the poll results make him wonder: What will happen if some of those 41 per cent one day go to heaven?

“They might find there are visible minorities and immigrants there. Will they have a problem with that also?” he asked.

Bhatia is best known as the “Raptors Superfan,” and the team’s official South Asian community ambassador. He’s often seen mugging for photos with Raptors players and Drake.

He also runs a successful Hyundai dealership in Mississauga, is actively involved in charity, and gave a talk at the most recent TEDx Toronto about changing racist perceptions.

Bhatia wants to change the views of that 41 per cent by asking them to take a look at him.

“I’m as visible as any immigrant can be, and I’m employing 159 Canadians and some of them are immigrants and some of them are visible minorities,” he said. “Many of these immigrant Canadians, these visible minorities, are achieving, they’re taking this country to the next level.”

“My first reaction was, ‘That can’t be right. It must be a mistake,’” Kristyn Wong-Tam, a Toronto city councillor, said about the survey results.

For her, it’s hard to believe because her parents chose to immigrate from Hong Kong in the 1970s. One of the big reasons they came, bringing Wong-Tam along as a young child, was for the promise of living in a multicultural, pluralistic country.

“But when I reflect on tone of the discussions coming out of Ottawa right now, it may not be too surprising,” she said about the results.

How politicians speak about immigration and multiculturalism influences the way everyone else sees it, she said.

It may be harder for Torontonians to understand the poll result than it is for people in other parts of the country, she said.

“I believe the immigration patterns add to the beautiful cacophony of what I know as Toronto,” she said. “I think that we were welcomed to this county. I would hate to think that the attitudes of Canadians are going to change simply because my skin colour is not white and my mother speaks with an accent.”

For York University professor Guida Man, the discourse from on Ottawa on subjects like wearing a niqab in citizenship ceremonies contributes to a racist view of immigration.

“One of the reasons it’s such a high number is the rhetoric of our government, of the Conservative government, particularly Stephen Harper,” she said.

Ekos pollster Frank Graves found a correlation between Conservative support and the view that too many immigrants are visible minorities.

But, Man says, more than just a poll must be done to understand these views.

“There is certainly racism in society, but how do we combat it?” she asked.

More research should be done with open-ended questions that can’t be tackled in a poll, she said.

At a glance

The Ekos research poll was conducted in early March. Results were released Thursday.

  • Overall, 41 per cent said “too many” immigrants are visible minorities
  • That broke down to 51 per cent of Conservative supporters, 35 per cent of NDP supporters and 32 per cent of Liberal supporters.
  • The view is more common among older and less-educated people.
  • 64 per cent of people said the niqab is offensive and women should not be allowed to wear it during citizenship ceremonies

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