Government Closely Watching Public Opinion on Asylum Seekers, Documents Show

By Wright, Teresa | The Canadian Press, October 27, 2018 | Go to article overview

Government Closely Watching Public Opinion on Asylum Seekers, Documents Show


Wright, Teresa, The Canadian Press


Feds closely eye public opinion on asylum seekers

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OTTAWA - The federal government has been closely monitoring public reaction to the influx of asylum seekers in Canada -- regularly conducting national surveys and measuring discussions on social media.

Documents released to The Canadian Press under access-to-information law show department officials receive weekly internal updates on media coverage and public response to issues related to asylum seekers coming irregularly into the country across the Canada-U.S. border.

This monitoring includes internal polling conducted by the Immigration Department to track public opinion about asylum seekers.

Two mid-year surveys of 2,000 Canadians, conducted by the department in March, suggested Canadians were not overly confident about Canada's ability to manage the border at unguarded points-of-entry and had little sense of obligation about accepting asylum seekers from the United States.

Fewer than half of respondents -- 43 per cent in a telephone survey and 35 per cent in an online survey -- agreed that Canada is taking appropriate steps to manage irregular border crossings.

Forty-two per cent of telephone respondents and just 18 per cent of those online indicated they felt the number of people coming to Canada and claiming asylum was at an appropriate level.

"Canadians are more receptive to refugees who have been selected by the government of Canada compared to those who come to Canada and claim asylum," the internal document notes as one of its key takeaways from the public survey.

The documents also show the Immigration Department closely measures public comment about asylum seekers on social media. This includes a weekly average of how many times the issue is mentioned every day.

The government also measures the number of times media stories published about asylum seekers include "myths countering messaging. …

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