Canadians Endorse Multiculturalism, But Pick Melting Pot Over Mosaic

A majority of Canadians believe the policy of multiculturalism has been positive for the country, but only one third are satisfied with the concept of the mosaic, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample of 1,006 Canadian adults also found that at least three-in-ten respondents believe that Canadian society is intolerant towards Muslims, and Aboriginal Canadians.


Across the country, 55 per cent of respondents think multiculturalism has been good for Canada, while 30 per cent believe the policy has been bad. British Columbians (65%) express the highest level of admiration for multiculturalism, while Quebecers (49%) are at the bottom end.

Two-thirds of respondents aged 18-34 (65%) think multiculturalism has been good for Canada, but only 45 per cent of people over the age of 55 concur.

Mosaic or Melting Pot?

For decades, the concept of the mosaic—where cultural differences within society are deemed valuable and regarded as something that should be preserved—has been used to establish a difference between Canada and the United States. Americans consistently refer to their country as a melting pot, where immigrants assimilate and blend into society.

More than half of respondents (54%) believe Canada should be a melting pot, while one third of Canadians (33%) endorse the concept of the mosaic. The melting pot is particularly attractive for Quebecers (64%), Albertans (60%) and respondents over the age of 55. The mosaic gets its best marks among British Columbians (42%) and respondents aged 18 to 34 (47%).

A Tolerant Society?

Respondents across the country were asked whether Canada is tolerant or intolerant towards nine different groups. One third of respondents (33%) think Canadian society is intolerant towards Muslims, three-in-ten (30%) say it is intolerant towards Aboriginal Canadians, and one-in-four (24%) believe it is intolerant towards immigrants from South Asia.

Significantly fewer people believe Canadian society is intolerant towards gays and lesbians (16%), people with disabilities (15%), and immigrants from Africa (16%), Asia (10%), Latin America (7%) and Europe (4%).


Most Canadians are not ready to claim—as German Chancellor Angela Merkel did earlier this year when assessing her own country—that multiculturalism has failed. However, the mosaic is no longer the predominant concept across Canada. A majority of respondents appear to be growing fond of the melting pot.

While a majority of respondents believe that Canadian society is tolerant towards most groups, there are some striking differences. Immigrants from Latin America and Europe are seen as groups that face acceptance practically all the time, which is something that cannot be said about Muslims, Aboriginal Canadians and Immigrants from South Asia.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From November 2 to November 3, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,006 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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