A majority of Canadians believe their country needs to step up and do its part in the unprecedented European refugee crisis in the wake of the global outrage over photos of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi.
According to a recent Angus Reid survey conducted late last week, 70 per cent believe Canada has a role to play in the crisis and 78 per cent view the refugee crisis as “genuine.”
However, Canadians are divided when it comes to the question of whether the federal government should accept more refugees, with 54 per cent thinking there needs to be an increase in the number of government-sponsored refugees and 51 per cent on the government increasing spending to make it happen.
When it comes to spending $100 million annually on increasing the number of government-sponsored refugees to 20,000 per year, Canadians are divided among party lines.
Sixty two per cent of both federal Liberal Party and NDP supporter groups support such an expense while just 39 per cent of the Conservative Party’s support the funding.
In a similar light, 77 per cent of Conservative supporters believe Canada should accept a maximum of 10,000 refugees over the coming year. This contrasts with the support levels from Liberal and NDP supporters, who are much more inclined to support more refugees.
These findings could be positive for the election campaign of Stephen Harper’s embattled Conservative Party, who have been heavily criticized nationally and abroad in recent days over their policies with the handling and accommodations of refugees.
But the survey notes there are major cleavages within the Conservative Party’s supporter base, especially within Christian factions which form a large part of the party’s numbers. Practicing Christians who are Conservative supporters are much more likely to want their country to do more for refugees than other Conservative supporters.
The current Conservative position of accommodating 20,000 refugees over the next four years could resonate with their voter base. In comparison, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have vowed to accept 25,000 refugees by early-2016 and Thomas Mulcair’s NDP are calling for 10,000 refugees by the end of the year.
Among the survey respondents who resided in British Columbia, just 52 per cent supported the position that the federal government should take in more refugees. A greater number, 63 per cent, believe private sponsorship through the efforts of individuals and community groups should sponsor more refugees.