Volume 91, Issue 23

Tuesday, October 7, 1997

frosh and go


Study finds Toronto intolerant of immigrants

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

The most culturally diverse city in Canada is also the most intolerant of immigrants other than whites, a study released through Access to Information by Canada Immigration has recently concluded.

Toronto was labeled the most racist city in the country, according to a national survey conducted by the three polling firms of Angus Reid, Ekos and Environics, said Douglas Palmer, a consultant and author of the report for Canada Immigration.

Palmer said the pattern has been the same since 1989 and Toronto has always placed around last in this category.

"It is not as negative as some of headlines have made it seem," he said. "Everybody has their prejudices. It's just that some people have more to do than others."

Antoni Shelton, executive director of Toronto's Urban Alliance on Race Relations, said he was skeptical about the report and wondered why such information was kept internal, noting it took a low level bureaucrat to propel this issue to the front page.

Although the results of the study did not vary a great deal, Antoni said he feels the larger question is very disconcerting and believes the findings will soften Toronto's image as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world.

"We are going in a direction that I don't think we want to go in. It is an area where Toronto has never seen itself as being average," he said. Toronto has always been the trendsetters in the spectrum.

Antoni said he credited Toronto's ranking in the survey to the lack of clear leadership as policies and budgets are clawed back, adding economic concerns, such as jobs, may have affected the results of this survey.

Although Roderic Beaujot, a sociology professor at Western, has not seen the report yet, he said he believes the findings are quite different from earlier studies. "The people who were closer to immigrants were seemingly more tolerant."

Vancouver, which ranked the most tolerant, received a big economic boost from its immigration whereas in Toronto immigrants were seen as taking away scarce jobs, Antoni said. Vancouver has a more relaxed atmosphere because it has more open space whereas Toronto is more intense because the population is much larger, he added.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997