Category "Canadian Politics"


When political differences create family drama — and how to handle it at Thanksgiving – National

by BBG Hub

With the federal election just around the corner, Thanksgiving dinner will likely come with a side of political debate.

“There’s often that one relative who always has to be right … or a relative who is insufferable, won’t listen and wants to pontificate,” says Melanee Thomas, an associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary.

While some families have more civil discussions than others, Thomas says, research shows Canadian society may be becoming more polarized.

A recent political study found evidence of “affective polarization” among the Canadian public, which is described as a “dislike of parties or their supporters on the other end of the political spectrum simply because they belong to an opposing group.”

READ MORE: Got questions about voting in Canada? Here are some answers

This trend is troubling, researchers say, because it suggests “polarization does not just influence people’s opinions about the parties, but also how they view ordinary Canadians.”

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Thomas says this is happening in the U.S., too, and points to research that shows political polarization has caused people to adopt an “us-versus-them” mentality.

So how can you talk out political differences without turning Thanksgiving dinner into the first leaders’ debate? The first step is setting pure intentions.

Come from a place of curiosity

You may think your cousin is a tool for his views on tax reform, and that’s OK. But don’t jump into a heated argument with someone just because they have different views than you, says Ottawa-based etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau.

Instead, approach the conversation from a place of genuine curiosity. If you want to understand why someone believes what they do, ask.

Which federal leader has post-debate momentum?

Which federal leader has post-debate momentum?

Blais Comeau suggests using prompts like, “Tell me more,” “That’s really interesting, I never thought about it that way” and “Can you give me an example?”

By using neutral language, you are not coming across as combative. This helps promote healthy discourse, Blais Comeau says.

Use evidence, not emotion

If you’re going to talk politics at the table, educate yourself on issues and be prepared to back up your points. Insults and below-the-belt remarks do not move conversations in a productive manner.

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READ MORE: Why isn’t violence against women an election issue?

“Present evidence and try to have a dispassionate conversation,” Thomas suggests.

“Ask people to explain why they feel a certain way to get them into a position where they consider they might not actually be correct.”

This tactic does not always work, Thomas says, especially if someone holds polarized views. When it’s clear you and another person are not getting anywhere, take a step back and regain your cool.

Leaders’ Debate: Scheer mocks Trudeau for being ‘oddly obsessed’ with provincial politics

Leaders’ Debate: Scheer mocks Trudeau for being ‘oddly obsessed’ with provincial politics

Don’t take things personally

It’s easy to say and harder to do, but try not to take someone’s political views personally, says Blais Comeau.

“People take [politics] very personally because what they feel is being ‘attacked’ are their own beliefs and values,” Blais Comeau explains.

“So if we’re going to talk about politics at the table, we should approach it from a fact-based point of view and we should definitely keep context in mind.”

READ MORE: There are stark disparities in access to mental health services across Canada

Thomas also suggests pivoting the conversation when it’s heading in a direction you find offensive.

“Try to find some common ground or pivot so that people can talk about a general issue without it necessarily being partisan versus partisan,” she says.

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Know when to walk away

If you know a certain family member is prone to taking a constructive conversation to a nasty place, you might want to speak to them beforehand. Blais Comeau says ringing up a relative and politely telling them that you want to keep Thanksgiving dinner civil can help prevent fights.

“Set the expectations that you don’t intend things to go into a negative direction,” Blais Comeau says. “Make it clear from the outset that the purpose of this gathering is to be grateful, to enjoy each other’s company and not to start a fight.”

How to vote in the 2019 federal election

How to vote in the 2019 federal election

If things do get heated at gatherings, it’s perfectly OK to put an end to the conversation. If your Uncle Jeff does not listen to opposing stances — no matter how well argued they are — you may have to accept that his mind isn’t going to change anytime soon.

In these cases, take the diplomatic “agree-to-disagree” stance.

“Say, ‘I recognize that we’re both passionate, and we can go back and forth on this for a long time, so why don’t we agree to disagree?’” says Blais Comeau.

“Or just put an end to it by saying: ‘You know, that’s interesting. I’m going to have to let that simmer for a few days.’”

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READ MORE: Paid leave, tax credits, more benefits — What the parties are promising parents

— With a file from the Canadian Press

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Majority of Canadians believe in climate change — here’s why some still don’t – National

by BBG Hub

Scientists around the world are warning countries of the effects of climate change, yet some people still aren’t convinced global warming is real.

Recently deemed as one of the biggest issues of our time by the United Nations, experts say we are seeing the consequences of a warming planet in 2019: melting glaciers, wildfires and endangered species, to name a few.

While the majority of Canadians believe in climate change, there is some debate around how much humans have contributed to the state of the environment, said Matto Mildenberger, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

READ MORE: From the anti-vaxxers to flat earthers: what makes people distrust science?

While he teaches in the U.S., Mildenberger is Canadian and his research focuses on climate change beliefs in Canada. He says there are some common reasons why people may be global warming skeptics or outright deniers.

One of the main reasons? Politicians who downplay or deny environmental issues.

People listen to leaders

“Many people form their policy preferences listening to politicians and to leaders who they rely on to help them make sense of difficult issues like climate change,” Mildenberger told Global News.

WATCH (Aug. 1, 2019): Prime Minister Trudeau addresses climate change in Canada’s Arctic

“When you have political leaders who are promoting climate skepticism, or climate denial, that’s going to trickle down and become part of the public’s perspective — particularly the public that relies on those leaders.”

In Canada, Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change. As a result, Elections Canada recently warned that discussing climate change during the upcoming federal election could be deemed partisan activity.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump has previously called climate change a hoax and pulled the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017.

READ MORE: We need to rethink agriculture to help slow global warming, says UN report

Mildenberger said that both in Canada and the U.S. groups and sectors that depend on producing carbon pollution for their profits lobby hard for their interests. In turn, this can affect a politician’s stance on environmental issues.

This is a problem, Mildenberger explained, as climate change policy should not be up for debate; our planet needs protective measures.

“Those companies are seeking to try and delay climate reforms even at the expense of the public well-being,” Mildenberger explained.

“They’ve been successful in and sort of inducing or recruiting political leaders to join them in this quest to delay action, and then those political leaders, in turn, are communicating climate denialism and climate skepticism to the public.”

WATCH (Aug. 19, 2019): ‘This is lunacy’ — May urges Elections Canada to reconsider partisan warning on climate change discussion

A 2018 Gallup poll found that global warming has become a partisan issue in the U.S.: “about seven in 10 Republicans think the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated in the news.”

For Democrats, 64 per cent think the seriousness of global warming is underestimated.

Misunderstanding of the seriousness of climate change

While some people may not understand the science behind climate change, resulting in denying its existence, Mildenberger thinks the larger issue is that people underestimate how many scientists believe in climate change.

READ MORE: Canada warming up twice as fast as rest of the world, and it’s ‘irreversible’: report

The majority of scientists say climate change is human-made, but not everyone realizes that, he explains.

“Ninety-seven per cent or more of scientists are certain that climate change is real and human-caused, but the public often estimates far more division within the scientific community than that,” Mildenberger said.

This is largely because of the way climate change has been covered in the media.

For example, Mildenberger says that over the last few decades, newspapers and TV news shows have created a “balanced” perspective on climate change, meaning they would share the views of a climate scientist as well as the views of an industry official or someone to counter the scientist’s point.

This has made the issue look like it was up for debate when it isn’t.

WATCH (Aug. 9, 2019): Protesters march in Switzerland to demand action on climate change

“The whole way that climate coverage has been structured for the last few decades has actually misled the public and done them a disservice by giving them a sense that there is controversy when in fact there isn’t any controversy,” Mildenberger said.

Climate changes affects more people every day

The bad news is that climate change is affecting more people every day, but experiencing the effects of global warming can affect how seriously you take it, Mildenberger said.

For those who have survived a wildfire or watched floods wash over their community, they may be more likely to take action and advocate for environmental policies.

READ MORE: Turning off lights won’t save the planet but these ‘green’ actions will

On the other hand, if you’re a climate change denier, losing your home to a fire or seeing images of starving polar bears doesn’t mean your mind will be changed.

It doesn’t necessarily convert people who are not already engaged in thinking about climate change an issue, because they’re not filtering or experiencing these events through with an understanding that they’re actually victims of a changing climate,” Mildenberger said.

The need to take action

Canada is warming up twice as fast as the rest of the world and that warming is “effectively irreversible,” a recent scientific report from Environment and Climate Change Canada noted.

WATCH (July 12, 2019): Climate change could lead to triple frequency of severe air turbulence

This means that it’s incredibly important for people to understand the realities of climate change, and work to take action — regardless of political lines, Mildenberger said. Leaders need to communicate the realities of global warming so skeptics or deniers can better understand its threat.

“There is a threat to the economic prosperity and well-being of Canadians… over the coming decade, and the capacity to talk about the science behind that threat [as a] partisan issue just strikes me as remarkably short-sighted,” he said.

“It’s an issue that cuts across political and ideological divisions as it should. It’s something that’s going to harm everyone equally.”

— With a file from the Canadian Press

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Some Canadians still believe harmful stereotypes about Muslims and Jews: poll – National

by BBG Hub

Stereotypes around religion, ethnicity and race can have damaging effects on people, yet some Canadians still believe these harmful tropes.

A recent poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Global News found that three in 10 Canadians believe Muslims follow Sharia law instead of Canadian law, and two in 10 think people of the Jewish faith run media and finance.

What’s more, over four in 10 Canadians think that people of different races are fundamentally different from each other.

Though almost nine in 10 Canadians agree that racism is a terrible thing, almost half admit to having racist thoughts that they would not voice. (All of the Ipsos poll data is available online.)

READ MORE: 37% in Ipsos poll say immigration is a ‘threat’ to white Canadians — what’s the threat?

Experts are not surprised by these findings.

“We’ve made a number of strides … but there is still a lot of racism in this country,” Ruth Frager, an associate professor at McMaster University’s School of Labour Studies, told Global News. “It’s something that we really have to deal with much more carefully.”

Where stereotypes come from

There’s no shortage of religious and racial stereotypes that people believe. As shown in the Ipsos poll, these include harmful — and often inaccurate — perceptions around people’s faiths.

According to Victoria Esses, a professor of psychology and director of the Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations at the University of Western Ontario, people hold both racist views that they are aware of and also implicit attitudes that are deeply ingrained.

WATCH: Poll — Racism is less of a problem now than before

“We may learn these as kids, we may hear them on the news, we may watch them on television shows and we may hear it from friends. We also may develop these views ourselves,” she said.

Esses said people are more likely to have misconceptions of other faiths if they’ve never experienced or taken part in a religious ceremony outside of their own.

“Discussing people’s beliefs or experiencing their religious practices is a way of ‘demystifying’ them,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘A f-ing n-word’ — York Region high school student says she was beaten, called racial slurs

“If there’s a view that Jewish people go into their synagogue and they’re ‘doing something’ in there but you don’t know what, going in there and seeing that they’re praying like anybody else sort of demystifies the whole practice.”

Barâa Arar, a graduate student who lives in Ottawa, said that many people don’t actually understand her faith and think that because she is Muslim and wears a hijab, she is “a victim” or under the control of a male family member.

“I can’t wear (my) hijab and be me; I have to wear the hijab and represent something — perhaps even something sinister,” she said.

“The narratives of weak or oppressed Muslim women are prevalent in both the news and popular media, and I do think many people have internalized them. In fact, that’s how Muslim women become understood as ‘easy targets’ because often people think we won’t fight back.”

WATCH: ‘People are not judging me for my merits’: Quebec graduate student says racist stereotypes are hurting job opportunities

Arar also said that many people think Islam is violent and regressive when, in reality, it shares many similarities with other world religions.

“I think there is a lot of misinformation, and that’s in part (due) to media and post-9/11 narratives,” she said.

Esses said there are also many harmful stereotypes around immigration and new Canadians.

“One of the common stereotypes in the area of immigration is that many of the people who are coming in claiming refugee status aren’t true refugees who are fleeing war and persecution, but they’re just economic migrants who are using Canada’s so-called ‘generous system’ to unfairly get into the country,” Esses said.

READ MORE: How Indigenous midwives help reconnect women with culture and pregnancy care

“There’s also a stereotype or a belief that skilled immigrants come in and steal jobs, and those who don’t do well are draining our welfare system.”

(Research shows this is not true, and immigrants are actually needed to sustain Canada’s job market.)

Frager said immigrants are often used as “scapegoats” for larger economic issues, like the erosion of certain job markets.

“We’re living in a time when we’ve had a lot of deindustrialization, and a lot of people … across the country who work very hard at jobs are not earning a living wage,” Frager said.

WATCH: Public consultations on systemic racism and discrimination begin in Montreal

“Sometimes, this leads to scapegoating and the fear that if immigrants come in — especially if they are seen as racialized, meaning they don’t look like what a ‘typical Canadian’ is supposed to look like — there’s fear of competition for jobs.”

READ MORE: Nearly 50% of Canadians think racist thoughts are normal, Ipsos poll finds

Stereotypes hurt job opportunities

Stereotypes and prejudice may become even more apparent when physical symbols of religious beliefs are present.

This is something Amrit Kaur, a recent university graduate student who lives in Quebec, experiences. Kaur, who is Sikh and wears a turban, said it’s harder for her to land a job because of how she looks.

WATCH: Ontario government document shows $1K earmarked for anti-racism initiatives

“I feel people are judging me not based on my character or my personality, and they’re not looking at my skills but they’re just looking at what’s on my body and not judging me for my merits,” Kaur said.

“We’ve seen this in the Sikh community when someone who applied for a job as a daycare professional was denied … because of her turban.”

Unfortunately, Kaur’s stories are not uncommon.

READ MORE: 1 in 4 Canadians say it’s becoming ‘more acceptable’ to be prejudiced against Muslims — Ipsos poll

Usha George, a professor and director of Ryerson University’s Centre for Immigration and Settlement, told Global News that even if someone is skilled and qualified for a job, discrimination can prevent them from getting hired.

This is particularly true for immigrants, George said.

“Coming to Canada on the point system does not necessarily guarantee a place in the labour market, simply because other sets of criteria seem to be operating here,” she said.

“Race, attributions of race and notions around people’s abilities all play a part in … (getting) a job.”

When stereotypes are politicized

Experts say stereotypes also affect policies and government laws. In Quebec, many have argued that the province’s so-called secularism bill, Bill 21, is discriminatory and primarily targets Muslims.

The bill aims to prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including primary and secondary school teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards — from wearing religious symbols, like hijabs, on the job.

WATCH: International Day for the Elimination of Racism

Kaur said the bill legitimizes racism and stereotypes and is validating some discriminatory views.

“(It’s) an excuse for people to show racism in the workplace and it is being supported by the government,” she said. “If the government won’t hire you, why should people in the private sector? … This has a trickle-down effect.”

George said that Bill 21 is not an “independent piece of legislation” because its origins, in part, are shaped by 9/11.

“It is all related to the (fear of) extremism that we have seen after 9/11 … and that came together to form this bill to say: ‘OK, no visible signs of religion in the public place,’” she said. “It is associated with a lot of history.”

How to challenge stereotypes and move away from them

When it comes to hiring, Esses said that “blind hiring” is a practice that can help combat discrimination.

READ MORE: ‘Canadians should see this film’ — Colten Boushie doc sets out on national tour

“I think if we have clear criteria for decision-making, we’re less likely to be influenced by our implicit biases,” she said.

Fruger said a lack of education and understanding of different ethnicities and religions helps fuel sterotypes. If someone does not understand a faith, for example, they are more likely to believe misinformation.

READ MORE: University of New Brunswick professor under investigation over white nationalist comments

Combating stereotypes and harmful views starts in the classroom.

“Educators (need to) work on ways to reach children and really promote an anti-racist educational curriculum because we are not doing enough of that here,” Fruger said.

Kaur agreed.

“If we regularly interact with people from faith-based backgrounds who wear religious symbols, that fear goes away, and you slowly realize that they’re no different than you and I,” Kaur said.

“They have families, they work hard, they pay their taxes — they’re no different.”

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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