This is the fourth report from the Digital Democracy Project, a partnership between the Public Policy Forum and the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University. Canada has a long history of embracing immigrants and refugees, but with rising populist and nativist sentiment in the United States and Europe—and the emergence of the People’s Party of Canada at home—politicians and analysts have been watching closely to see if immigration is becoming a consequential election issue. This report explores how Canadians perceive immigration and which media sources they obtain their information on immigration from. 

Key Findings

  • The most important dimension of immigration for Canadians is its impact on jobs and the economy. Aside from that, priorities vary by party allegiance, and partisan views reflect the issue areas emphasized by candidates on social media.
  • Nativism—feelings of support for native-born citizens over immigrants—is more common among conservatives, but also among those who feel the economy or their personal finances are getting worse.
  • Most Canadians do not have a clear idea of how many immigrants and refugees Canada admits, and many assume the number of refugees is higher than it is. But providing people with facts about immigration and the economy affects their perceptions of immigration, their opinions about immigration policy and their levels of nativist sentiment. These effects are especially pronounced for conservatives.

Key Finding: Social Media Case Study

  • When it comes to social media outreach, Facebook and Twitter are the social platforms of choice for most candidates. Aside from Liberals and Conservatives, candidates have a limited presence on Instagram, and candidates across the board are virtually absent from YouTube.


Publication Details
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