Canadian survey on 'combatting hate' cuts naysayers from results

Members of the research group conducting a national questionnaire worked diligently to exclude and suppress feedback from those who did not believe that combatting hate should be a national priority until they realized that their strategy might be exposed.

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The questionnaire was developed by the Department of Canadian Heritage which describes itself as “playing a vital role in the cultural, civic and economic life of Canadians.”

It was unveiled alongside the first ever National Action Plan on Combatting Hate that was launched at the end of March.

The campaign outlined how Canadians could be “part of the National Action Plan on Combatting Hate” because the plan wanted to “deliver tangible change.”

While the questionnaire encouraged every person in Canada to participate, there were claims on social media that unless you were in the group that was recognized as those with “lived experiences,” you were prohibited from continuing with the survey. The claim is that this will inevitably engineer the result that Canadian Heritage wants.

As evidenced by some screengrabs, this could include “Establishing a National Victims of Hate Program,” “Funding Anti-Hate Education,” and “Increasing media representation for communities affected by hate.”

The response from our access to information request shows that the department excluded a vast majority of Canadian respondents.

A link was first sent out on March 28 by Canadian Heritage Executive Director Peter Flegel.

Less than a week later, on April 6, Public Opinion Research Advisor Carl McKellar appears worried that that people who don’t think dealing with online hate should be a Canadian priority are giving feed back and they want them excluded. He provides solutions to do so, including cutting the survey short that answer “no” when asked “if they think combatting hate should be a priority” are then “asked why and then their survey ends.”

A few days later, on April 11, McKellar again emails saying that they’ve “received more than 2,000 responses since last night at 7 p.m. We think that 75%–80% of these responses are from non-allies. A big chunk of the remaining 20%–25% are from a GoC, that’s Government of Canada, IP addresses. And he guesses that a department promoted the questionnaire, possibly the CRA.”

Acting Director for the Policy Research Group Marke Ambard then refers to a tweet from the Twitter account that I showed earlier, which belongs to editor and podcaster Jonathan Kay who urges his fellow Canadians to fill out the survey.

Ambard writes that they’ve had another 1,100 new responses and notes that Kay tweeted about an access to information request to see how many people were screened out.

Then, their tone changed.

A few hours later McKellar makes suggestions on how to include feedback from the same people he wanted to exclude a few days prior. He directs the department to open up some of the feedback by noting that “it may be worthwhile to include the list of recommendations on the landing page so that all respondents, supporters and non supporters, can review them if they wish.”

In spite of the fact that 75–80% of respondents were alleged “non-allies,” some of the recommendations shown from this screenshot have already been implemented — under “Funding Anti-Hate Education” well we know that the government-funded Canadian Anti-Hate Network has already implemented a toolkit that is to be disseminated throughout Canadian schools titled Confronting and Preventing Hate in Canadian Schools. They received a $268,400 grant from the government to basically a copy and paste of the Confronting White Nationalism In Schools toolkit out of the United States.

And our Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has mandated that our Canadian state broadcaster “enhance diversity in it’s programming” by requiring the CBC to spend a certain amount of money on programs produced BY people with disabilities, indigenous, the LGBTQ community and racialized people as a stipulation of their licencing renewal.

Finally, as per Peter Flegel, the executive director of the Government of Canada's federal anti-racism secretariat, on April 14, says that:

there has been a dramatic spike in trolls targeting the questionnaire, which means that the results, at this stage, have limited value. PRG (that’s the Policy Resource Group subsect of Canadian Heritage) is cleaning the data in real time, as it comes in, and will be submitting the final results after the questionnaire closes in May. Approximately 5,000 people have answered the questionnaire.

It looks like Canadian Heritage basically gathered the opinions of people who agree with their predetermined conclusion and bundled it all up in a package that they call research, while seemingly instituting those recommendations in real time based off of that same “research.”


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