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Catholic Vancouver May 15, 2018

Canadians more divided than they think: pollster  

By Agnieszka Krawczynski

Pollster Angus Reid speaks with members of the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyers' Guild after the Red Mass May 8. At a reception that evening, he said opinion polls reveal a different story than what politicians and the media would have Canadians think. (Agnieszka Krawczynski photos)

Politicians, media, and perhaps even the courts in this nation are “tone-deaf” to the diverse opinions of Canadians, according to Angus Reid.

Considered by some as Canada’s best-known pollster, Reid has been asking people what they think about political, social, religious, and economic issues for more than 40 years. And, he told 112 judges, legal professionals, and guests at a reception May 8 that many widely-held views are going ignored.

“We have a system which absolutely fails to recognize any of the tremendous diversity that we have in this country,” he said.

“It forces a common march down the same aisle, with the same trajectory on the same issues, and everyone is scared like hell to say anything. If anyone says anything, they get booted out.”

On issues from abortion to religion to residential schools, recent polls by the Angus Reid Institute have revealed Canadians have more diverse opinions than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, politicians, and mainstream media seem to recognize, he said.

For example, a poll on abortion and the Canada Summer Jobs debate this May revealed an almost 50-50 split about whether or not the attestation was fair. It also found only 38 per cent of respondents thought there should be no laws on abortion.

“We have the Prime Minister of Canada parading around as if he’s got the entire population of the country behind him following this idea of zero law. Well guess what? Sixty per cent or more of Canadians don’t agree with that,” said Reid.

“The inability of social conservatives in this country to give any voice to this is really discouraging.”

Angus Reid.

He found a divide on many other issues as well. His recent poll on marriage found 53 per cent of Canadians don’t think marriage is necessary, but 47 per cent believe marriage is important.

On transgenderism, he found most respondents believe people should have equal rights, but when it came down to the debate over public washrooms, Canadians were split almost 50-50.

On prayer in public meetings, Reid said the largest group, 42 per cent, supported “non-denominational prayer to God which seeks guidance for those attending the meeting.” Twenty per cent said prayer should not be allowed in public meetings, and the rest fell somewhere in the middle.

On assisted suicide, Reid continued, 55 per cent of Canadians believe religious nursing homes and instituitions who don’t support the practice should be able to opt out.

“Right across the board on issue after issue, we find that there is a significant bloc of Canadians which hold views which are very contrary to the Jordan Peterson view of what he calls the neo-Marxist, post-liberal, post-modern, post-whatever perspective on society,” said Reid.

“The great troubling feature for me, as a pollster, is why is it that there no linkage between the existence of these very significant, divergent views on many of these questions and the leadership of this country, the media of this country, and even to some extent the court system in this country, that seems completely tone-deaf to this point of view?”

Wrapping up his remarks, Reid spoke in favour of proportional representation, saying he hopes it could give more exposure to divergent issues, allow for open debate, and force compromise.

“There are vast numbers of Canadians who on some of the most important issues that intersect between religion and politics are actually on the side of religion and faith, not on the side of the neo-secular viewpoint. You wouldn’t know that listening to CBC.”

Archbishop Miller delivers a homily during the Red Mass May 8. He urged lawyers to live with an "undertone of truth" in their daily lives.

Reid delivered his speech during a reception after the archdiocesan Red Mass, an annual ceremony for Catholic judges, lawyers, and other law professionals organized by the St. Thomas More Catholic Lawyer’s Guild.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, celebrated the Red Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral earlier in the day. He encouraged the professionals present to live an “apostolate of personal influence,” showing what they believe by their lives.

“Faith is deeply personal but, if it is real, it reverberates in our profession,” he told the crowd.

“If our hearts are to speak to the hearts of others, then there must be a distinguishing quality about our lives, an ‘undertone of truth,’ a transparency which, even without drawing attention to itself, draws others to the good. A life of integrity and virtue, rooted in deep convictions about God’s design for humanity, and illumined by the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, bears witness to the Gospel even when no words are spoken.” 

Red Mass organizing committee with Archbishop Miller and Angus Reid.