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Canadians of all backgrounds share progressive values

Written by Think Forward Staff
Sunday, 30 June 2013

Canada Day presents an opportunity to reflect on what we as Canadians stand for - to think about what our national values are and what we care about as a society.

A new study commissioned by the Broadbent Institute and conducted by Environics Research Group looked into this topic and found that, by and large, Canadians of all backgrounds share progressive ideals of equality, sustainability, and social justice.

In asking citizens about their views on issues such as the size and role of government, our collective responsibility to each other, and the distribution of wealth, the survey discovered that progressive beliefs are supported by strong majorities in major urban and suburban areas across the country. What's more, these values are shared by Canadian- and foreign-born residents alike, refuting the idea that immigration is causing Canada to become increasingly conservative.  

The May 2013 poll interviewed 1,731 citizens in eight of the country's largest urban areas spanning coast to coast. Half of the respondents were male, the other half female, and just over 30 percent were born outside of Canada. 

Among the survey's notable findings: 72 percent of non-Canadian-born residents said they prefer a government that provides robust services over one that offers fewer services, with 70 percent of Canadian-born respondents holding the same opinion. On the issue of equality, a majority of Canadians believe we have a collective responsibility to reduce poverty in our society. And 57 percent of respondents said it would be reasonable for households to pay an extra $100 per year in higher taxes and commodity prices to help fight global warming, a view that's directly at odds with the Harper government's climate change denial.  

The poll also found wide support for the icons of Canadian culture, such as Medicare, Canada's traditional role as a global peacekeeper, and our collective belief in fairness. For example, most respondents expressed a preference for publicly-funded, universal health care over the private sort, a role on the world stage that emphasizes peacekeeping, mediation, and being a global leader on humanitarian issues, and a willingness to pay higher taxes to fund valuable social programs. 

Clearly, then, Canadians aspire to live in a society with a strong, pro-active government, generous and accessible public services, and a citizenry committed to fairness and equality over greed.  

The study notes that its results are good news for Canada's forward-thinking political parties, but neglects to comment on the fact that progressive voters are currently divided among three different parties. This is a major reason why we have a federal government that's completely out of step with the views of most citizens, and it's an issue that needs to be addressed before the next election if voters want to elect a government that truly represents Canadian values.



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