Two-Thirds of Canadians Are Against ‘Cultural Socialist’ Attitudes: Survey

Two-Thirds of Canadians Are Against ‘Cultural Socialist’ Attitudes: Survey
People opposed to the teaching of gender ideology in schools participate in a march on the grounds of the New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton on Sept. 20, 2023. (The Canadian Press/Stephen MacGillivray)
William Crooks

Two-thirds of Canadians oppose “cultural socialist” attitudes, says a survey and study by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

Key findings suggest that Canadians predominantly oppose the cultural socialist stance by a ratio of about 2 to 1, reflecting a “remarkable” similarity in opinion trends with their American and British counterparts.

The survey found minimal differences between Francophone and Anglophone Canadians on these issues. However, Canadians generally show higher trust in elite political culture, including journalists, teachers, and academics, than those in the broader Anglosphere.

The survey identified a near-universal rejection of “cancel culture,” critical race/history theories, and certain transgender issues. There was a strong opposition to the notion of Canada as a fundamentally racist country and a rejection of race-based segregation in schools.

The report by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) examines “culture wars”—the clash between cultural socialism and both cultural liberalism and conservatism over issues like free speech, objective truth, due process, and national heritage, as defined by the paper. It is based on a survey conducted by Maru Voice Canada Sept. 18–20, 2023.

Eric Kaufmann, the author of the report, labels individuals advocating for equal outcomes and extensive psychological harm protection for historically marginalized groups as “cultural socialists.” He defines “woke” individuals as cultural socialists who specifically view marginalized racial and sexual identity groups, as well as women, as sacred.

“Woke cultural socialists tend to view society as structured by power hierarchies of white supremacy, patriarchy, and cis-heteronormativity,” states Mr. Kaufmann, a senior MLI fellow and professor of politics at the University of Buckingham in the UK.

“Their aim is, therefore, to overthrow systems of structural racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia.”

Race, Gender, and Political Correctness

Among those surveyed, 4 to 1 opposed gender reassignment surgery for minors under 16. Canadians showed a preference for informing parents when children under 16 change pronouns at school, along with an opposition to “transgender women” participating in women’s sports competitions.

The issue was debated again recently, with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith rolling out new provincial child transition restrictions Jan. 31.

The policies prevent minors aged 17 and under from undergoing gender transition surgeries and bar those aged 15 and under from using puberty blockers and hormone treatments. The policies also exclude transgender individuals from participating in female-only sports leagues.

The report also notes widespread belief, by a 78 to 22 percent margin, that “political correctness has gone too far” and a preference for a colour-blind approach to societal issues, with marked political differences.

This issue has also made headlines with Jordan Peterson, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto in psychology and practicing clinician, losing his court case.

The College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) began scrutinizing Dr. Peterson in 2022 following complaints about his social media posts. The college claimed that some of his posts concerning a plus-sized model, transgender actor Elliot Page, and various politicians could degrade the profession and potentially constitute professional misconduct.

Ontario’s highest court has denied Mr. Peterson’s request to overturn an order from his profession’s governing body, which mandates that he undergo remedial social media training.

The report notes that attitudes of respondents were often divided along political lines.

“While 52 percent of Tory and PPC voters say that putting up with racist, sexist, or homophobic speech online is a price worth paying for free expression, a mere 24 percent of left-wing voters agree,” states Mr. Kaufmann.

However, survey results indicate the relatively high trust Canadians place in institutions and cultural elites allows these groups significant freedom to shape the topics of public discussion, often while overlooking other issues.

“Most Canadians trust professors, placing relatively high trust in these heavily progressive-dominated institutions,” Mr. Kaufmann writes.

Survey respondents expressed a resistance to removing statues of historical figures like Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and to the excessive discussion of race.

Diversity training and heavy social media use on individuals’ attitudes had notable effects, with those exposed being more likely to fear job or reputation loss over their statements and showing more “woke” tendencies.

“Diversity training, as currently practiced, needs to be reformed or abolished in organizations as it heightens employee anxiety and advances contentious beliefs,” Mr. Kaufmann suggests.

Francophone and Anglophone

The report uncovers specific differences between Francophone and Anglophone Canadians, particularly in their views on Anglo-Canadian historical figures, threats to free speech, and skepticism toward gender ideology and color-conscious equity and diversity policies.

The survey reveals that despite perceptions of French Canadians being less “woke” compared to their English-speaking peers, significant differences by language are minimal. It shows that only 27 percent of Francophones see Quebec as a racist society, in stark contrast to 77 percent of Anglophones.

Francophones, primarily from Quebec, are more supportive of the “woke” stance on figures like Mr. Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson than those in the rest of Canada, possibly due to a weaker connection to these Anglo historical figures. They are 13 percentage points more likely to support a modular school curriculum that adapts to student identities and are half as likely as Anglophones to oppose Black Lives Matter.

Francophone responses indicate “that there is some influence on French Quebecers of their being conscious that they are a minority that has experienced discrimination in the past.”