Friday, January 19, 2007

Shattering the myth of Canada as a color-blind nation, nearly half of Canadians admit they're at least a bit racist

Kathleen Harris:

The sweeping survey of attitudes toward immigrant ethnic communties, conducted by Leger Marketing, produced eyebrow-raising results by asking Canadians to take an honest look in the mirror. While 51% insist they aren't at all racist, another 47% confess they harbour at least some racist views -- and that their prejudice is planted firmly at the door of Arab minorities.

"Canada prides itself on being an accepting country that is a number of different ethnic communities coming together, and obviously immigration is a big part of where we've come as a country," said Dave Scholz, vice-president of Leger Marketing.

"But, that being said, almost half of us still believe that there are some racist undertones within our behaviour."

Our bigotry doesn't evenly blanket all minority groups. The survey found most Canadians hold a high opinion of Italian, Latin American, Asian, Jewish and Black communities, yet only 53% said they think well of members of the Arab community.

Those figures suggest a post-9/11 backlash that is unfairly tarring all Arabs with the same brush as the Taliban, Scholz said. They also reflect the power of media coverage and world affairs in shaping personal views of our neighbours at home.

"I find it worrisome that coverage could potentially lead the Canadian population to be prejudiced or racist against an entire group," he said.

The poll also shows that while most Canadians would vote for a prime minister from an ethnic group other than their own, 21% believe some races are more gifted than others. And while we're okay with a taxi driver, supervisor, doctor or neighbour who's of another race, we're ill at ease with the idea of our son or daughter entering a cross-cultural marriage.

"With politics, it's more about how you deal with people and who you are than about what ethnic community you come from. But when you start to personalize it ... then that's a different case," Scholz said.

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