1 in 4 Canadians want Trump-style travel ban, poll suggests

New research shows a "significant segment" of Canadians say the country's 2017 refugee target of 40,000 is too high, and one in four Canadians want the Liberal government to impose its own Trump-style travel ban.

Majority of Canadians praise the government's resettlement efforts, but 41% want intake to slow

Justin Trudeau's welcoming of Syrian refugees at Pearson airport in Toronto may not tell the whole story about how welcoming Canada is. A new poll suggests four in 10 Canadians do not think refugees would be welcome in their neighbourhoods. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

A "significant segment" of Canadians say Canada's 2017 refugee target of 40,000 is too high, while one in four Canadians wants the Liberal government to impose its own Trump-style travel ban.

Those are just two of the findings in a new Angus Reid Institute poll that looked at Canadians' attitudes toward the federal government's handling of refugees.

"We tend to, when we are looking at numbers, look at the majority view. But the fact that one in four Canadians are of the mind that we should be looking to our own travel ban is significant and is part of a red flag that is starting to emerge in terms of refugee policy," said Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.

Overall, 47 per cent of Canadians surveyed said Canada is taking in the right number of refugees, while 11 per cent said 40,000 is too low and Canada should take in more. But 41 per cent say the 2017 target is too high and fewer refugees should be allowed to enter the country.

Kurl told CBC News that "41 per cent is not the majority voice but it is a significant segment of the population that is actually saying our targets for 2017 are too high and that, I think, adds to a level of anxiety for those folks.

"Certainly in terms of that 'too many, too few' debate, a lot more people think it's too many than too few," she said.

The survey also asked Canadians about the federal government's decision not to alter its own immigration policy to match that of U.S. President Donald Trump's after he rolled out his travel ban.

Some 57 per cent of Canadians said the federal government made the right call in not following Trump's lead, while 18 per cent said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government should have chosen to take in more refugees. But 25 per cent said Canada should have adopted a similar policy to Trump's executive order and issued a temporary ban on Syrian refugees.

Working hard to fit in

When it comes to whether the government did a good job of resettling refugees, 61 per cent said they either strongly (12 per cent) or moderately (49 per cent) agree that it had. But some 39 per cent of people either moderately (22 per cent) or strongly (17 per cent) disagreed.

Kurl said those surveyed are also split over how well refugees are integrating into Canadian society, and how enthusiastically Canadians are welcoming new arrivals.

A slim majority of (54 per cent) say refugees do not make enough of an effort to fit into mainstream society, while 46 per cent say that they do try hard to fit in.

When the responses are broken down across age groups, it's revealed that the younger the person, the more likely they are to say that refugees are working hard to fit into Canadian society.

For example, 62 per cent of those in the 18-24 age range say refugees are making enough of an effort to fit in, but in the 25-34 age range that drops to 47 per cent.

There is a slight spike among 35-44 year olds where 54 per cent of those asked said refugees are working hard to fit in, but for those who are 45 and older, only one in four said the same thing.

Not so welcome 

When it comes to welcoming refugees, 38 per cent said that people in their neighbourhood would not be welcoming to refugee families moving in.

Kurl said the numbers of people showing opposition or dissatisfaction with the refugee resettlement plan may be in a minority but "it's far from a handful of people that can be easily dismissed," she said.

"There are significant segments of folks who are expressing opposition and unease and anxiety to both the numbers, our target levels of 40,000, and then there is a smaller group, but not a fringe group, who are questioning whether we should be taking refugees at all."

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey between Feb. 6-9, 2017, using a random sample of 1,508 adult Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. A margin of error is not stated because the survey was conducted online.

Discrepancies in total numbers are due to rounding.


  • A previous version of this story said 41 per cent of respondents said Canada should not be taking in any more refugees. In fact, those respondents said the current levels were too high and fewer should be allowed to enter the country. This story has also been updated to note that a margin of error is not stated for online surveys.
    Feb 20, 2017 3:08 PM ET