Canadians see Donald Trump's Muslim-ban idea not so differently from Americans, polls indicate
While most Canadians disagree with Trump, a majority of Conservatives agree with him
Donald Trump's controversial bid to lead Republicans into the next presidential election appears to highlight differences between American and Canadian politics, but a new survey suggests they may not be so different after all.
The poll by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) found that 33 per cent of Canadians strongly or moderately agree with Trump's call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
While two-thirds of Canadians disagreed (and 49 per cent strongly so), that still leaves a large proportion of Canadians looking kindly on a plan that has been widely condemned both in Canada and the U.S.
And it puts Canadians on almost the same level with Americans. A Washington Post-ABC poll conducted at the same time as the ARI survey found that 36 per cent of Americans supported Trump's ban, with 60 per cent thinking it "the wrong thing to do."
Majority of Republicans, Tories on board
At this stage of the presidential primaries, Trump is only trying to win over Republican voters. The Post-ABC poll suggests his plan is a winner, with 59 per cent of Republicans supporting it and 38 per cent thinking it the wrong thing to do.
However, despite interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose recently telling the Canadian Press that "I think [Trump's] off the spectrum, frankly … that's not a voice that we welcome in our party," the ARI poll indicates that a majority of Canadians who voted for the Conservatives in October think Trump is onto something.
In total, 55 per cent of Canadian Conservative voters strongly or moderately agreed with Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
Liberal voters opposed
Canadians who voted for the Liberals and New Democrats were strongly opposed, however — 77 per cent of New Democrats and 82 per cent of Liberals disagreed with the ban, with about two-thirds strongly disagreeing with it.
In a town hall held by Maclean's magazine this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected Trump's "hateful" rhetoric.
In the U.S., 82 per cent of Democrats in the Post-ABC poll said it was the wrong thing to do.
Note that the ARI poll was conducted using the firm's online panel, whereas the Post-ABC poll was conducted by telephone with live interviewers. This difference in methodology has the potential to influence responses, and so some caution should be exercised when comparing the two polls.
The ARI poll showed some regional and demographic differences on the issue, with support for Trump's Muslim ban being highest on the Prairies. There was also a link to education: less educated Canadians looked more favourably on the ban than more educated Canadians.
Quebeckers less supportive
And despite the controversies over reasonable accommodations in Quebec, the ARI poll showed that Quebeckers were less likely than other Canadians to support Trump's ban.
When presented with two options, one suggesting that Trump's rhetoric is "bad for society, it encourages fear and hatred" and the other that it is "good for society, it gets at 'politically incorrect' issues that should be talked about," 63 per cent of Canadians thought it was bad for society (including 66 per cent of Quebeckers). The remaining 37 per cent thought it was good for society.
Perhaps Canadian and American politics aren't so different after all.
The poll by the Angus Reid Institute was conducted between Dec. 10 and 13, 2015, interviewing 1,530 Canadians via the Internet. As the poll was conducted online, a margin of error does not apply.
The poll by the Washington Post-ABC was conducted between Dec. 10 and 13, 2015, interviewing 1,002 Americans via the telephone. The margin of error associated with the survey is +/– 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.