Canadians hold more nuanced views than we give them credit for

By Shachi Kurl, President, and Dave Korzinski, Research Director

Oct. 30, 2023 – Have we lost the ability to talk to each other about complicated, complex issues in this country? Do many of you feel like it’s better to stay quiet rather than voice an opinion because you’re worried about being the target of unpleasant reactions? Does it feel like the loudest voices in a debate are sucking all the oxygen out of the conversation?

The good news is: you’re not alone. The bad news is: you’re not alone.

In recent weeks you may have seen, heard or even weighed in on our multipart study at the Angus Reid Institute looking at what Canadians think about everything from progress on reducing racial discrimination, to the legacy of colonialism, to the minefield that is “free speech,” to issues of gender and gender identity.

Why did we take on such a project? While we don’t have a penchant for sticking our fingers in bee’s nests, we do want to understand the “hive mind” of Canadians. Against the backdrop of polarized political media narratives, wherein elected representatives enthusiastically stoke their bases to reject and verbally attack people who disagree with them, and wherein news coverage often prioritizes points of view on extreme ends of a given issue, we felt it was important to establish what people in this country are really feeling. So we surveyed more than 3,000 of them, far more than most national polls usually include.

In some cases, we’ve been led to believe by opinion-makers that the country exists in one of two opposing columns on a range of thorny issues. As opinion-measurers, we’ve found instead a tapestry in which having a particular view on climate change or gender, for example, doesn’t mean you subscribe to what some believe are “corresponding” views on race. Just because you hold one point of view on an issue doesn’t necessarily mean you want everything in the bundle.

Read more from the article in the Ottawa Citizen here.

Image – Radu Stanescu/Unsplash

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