Summary

Shawn McCarthy reports on key findings of a recent Angus Reid poll, which shows that 47% of Canadians feel the number of refugees being taken in by Canada is about right, but a significant number, 41%, believe it is too high. The issue has come to the fore in the Conservative leadership race because a few of the candidates favour more restrictive immigration policies.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Social studies, current events, history

Key Question to Explore:

  • What do polls show about Canadians’ agreement with federal policy on the numbers of refugees being accepted by Canada?

New Terminology:

Wedge issue, asylum, Islamophobia

Materials Needed:

Globe article

Learning Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

President Donald Trump recently signed a second executive order banning immigration from six specific, primarily Muslim, countries, while Canada continues to accept significant numbers of refugees. Many of these arrive daily by foot across the US border in Manitoba, ostensibly escaping what they fear will be deportation from the US. At least two Conservative leadership candidates, Maxime Bernier and Kellie Leitch, have included more restrictive immigration/refugee policies in their platforms. A recent Angus Reid poll suggests these candidates may have considerable backing from Canadians who identify as conservatives, as a poll shows that 62% of this segment believe Canada is accepting too many refugees.

This lesson provides students the opportunity to learn more about polling, while they also learn about the mood of the nation relative to Canada’s immigration/refugee policy. Students will conduct a poll of their own, and will compare their findings with those of the Angus Reid survey.

Action (lesson plan and task):

Engage students in a brief discussion about Canada’s acceptance of refugees. Note that Canada took in 58,000 refugees in 2016 and is on track to accept 40,000 this year. Provide students with copies of the attached article. Engage them in a competition to see who can find answers in the article to the following questions. Have volunteers write the answers on the chalkboard.

What percentage of respondents to the Angus Reid survey agree that Canada:

  • is taking in the right number of refugees? (47%)
  • is taking in too many refugees? (41%)
  • has done a good job in handling resettlement of refugees? (61%)
  • should be taking in more refugees? (11%)
  • should have adopted a temporary ban, such as the one now in force in the US? (25%)

What percentage agreed that too many refugees do not make enough effort to fit into mainstream Canadian society? (54%)

How many Canadians were sampled in the Angus Reid Poll? (about 1,000)

With which groups might students see themselves aligned? Do a show-of-hands poll on each question and record the numbers of hands for each. Have students calculate the percentage of the class that voted for each.

Next, provide students with a homework assignment. They are to conduct a similar poll among six friends, teachers, family and neighbours. They should strive for three student responses and three adult responses. They are not to poll anyone who has already been polled by a classmate. The poll questions:

Do you agree that Canada:

  • is taking in the right number of refugees?
  • is taking in too many refugees?
  • has done a good job in handling resettlement of refugees?
  • should be taking in more refugees?
  • should have adopted a temporary ban, such as the one now in force in the US?

Do you agree that too many refugees do not make enough effort to fit into mainstream Canadian society?

Provide students with five copies each of the poll questions. In a subsequent class, have students assemble all the polls into one, showing the percentages that agreed with each question. They are then to compare these to the Angus Reid poll, to see how closely it compares. They should also compare sample sizes and discuss the different ways students might respond to a poll, compared to adults.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Students discuss and assemble their poll results, comparing them to the Angus Reid results. They may also suggest explanations for differences, possibly based on the location and/or demographic makeup of their community.
Success

Success Criteria:

  • Students are able to conduct and interpret a simple poll; they are able to form an opinion on the numbers of Canadians who agree and who disagree with the current federal government’s policy on immigration and refugees.

Confirming Activity:

  • Students interpret their own polling data.