Robbins SCE Research
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Chinese head tax, China's 'spying' and God Save the Queen
  Apr 27, 2006

A random digit dialing of 650 British Columbians between April 21 and April 27, 2005. This survey features a margin of error of 4.5%, 18 times out of 20 @96% competency. Glen P. Robbins and Associates funded this survey.

Question #1
You and both of your biological parents were born in Canada?
Yes    74 %
No    26 %
Question #2
Which of the following statement BEST describes your perception of Canada’s historical Human Rights record relative to other ‘better known’ world democracies?
Canada’s record on Human Rights is as good or better than most    63 %
Canada’s Human Rights record is probably pretty average-    28 %
Canada’s Human Rights record is probably worse than most    09 %
Question #3
Chinese Immigrants to Canada in the 19th century and early 20th century were charged a ‘head tax’ for coming into Canada, when no other immigrants were. There has been plenty of discussion by political leaders over whether or not an apology should be forthcoming from the government of Canada to the Chinese families affected by the Head Tax. In your opinion should Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologize on behalf of Canadians to the Chinese families affected by the Head Tax?
Yes    53 %
No    46 %
Question #4
With respect to the Head Tax just mentioned in the previous question, in your opinion should Prime Minister Stephen Harper provide compensation to the Chinese families affected by the Head Tax?
Yes    34 %
No    66 %
Question #5
Foreign Minister Peter McKay and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have both accused the Chinese government of using spies inside Canada. The Chinese government vigorously denies this allegation. Whom do you believe?
Peter McKay and Stephen Harper    67 %
The Chinese government    17 %
Neither    16 %
Question #6
Question “A”- Queen Elizabeth just celebrated her eightieth birthday. In your opinion do you think Canada should continue to recognize the Queen as sovereign in matters relating to Canada’s Constitution, and all other matters pertaining to Canada’s parliamentary democracy including but not limited to the role of the Governor General who is the Queen’s representative in this country?
Yes    56 %
No    42 %
Facts: Residents of Vancouver Island were the most supportive of the Queen (“Yes”) in supplementary question “A” (58%), while residents in the lower mainland were near the average and residents of the north and interior were on average slightly less inclined than average to support the Queen, and were more inclined than the other two regions to be undecided.
(79%) who answered “No” in supplementary question “A” supported the apology to families of the Chinese people who were charged the head tax. (62%) of respondents who answered, “Yes” to question “A” did not support the apology to the families of Chinese immigrants forced to pay a head tax. The numbers moved ‘more or less’ commensurately downward from these two categories on the question of monetary compensation.
Respondents in the north and interior of the province were slightly less inclined to support the Queen but were also more likely to say “No” to an apology to the Chinese families, and more adamant about “No” to compensation. Respondents in the lower mainland were more sympathetic to Chinese families BOTH in terms of reference to an apology and to compensation (55%), (37%). Respondents on Vancouver Island were slightly below the averages denoted in the final presentation.
Respondents who answered “No” in question #1 were slightly below the average in terms of support for an apology to Chinese families, and to compensation for Chinese families over the head tax.
Respondents in the north and interior were more likely to either belief that Canada’s human rights record was better than most, or to believe that Canada’s human rights record was worse than most (67%), (17%). Respondents in the lower mainland were more likely to see Canada’s human rights record in the numbers depicted, with Vancouver Island slightly more inclined to seeing our record as average.
Over 70% of respondents from outside the lower mainland of British Columbia are of the opinion that Canada’s record on human rights is as good or better than most. (58%) of respondents in the lower mainland of British Columbian believe that Canada’s human rights record is as good or better than most. Many respondents also indicated that they believed Canada’s human rights record is ‘anything but perfect’ but “compared to other countries particularly the United States or Germany for that matter how could it help but (sic) not be better.” This type of comment (and others) which mitigate the emphasis that might otherwise be applied to a “yes” or “no’ responses in this question (admittedly) brings down the competency of the poll marginally.
Over 70% of respondents on average in the north and interior overall believe there are Chinese government spies in Canada, while less than 60% specifically in Prince George believe this to be true. Slightly less than the averages depicted for question #5 in the lower mainland of BC belief that there are spies in Canada, while (27%) of those respondents who answered “No” in question #1 also do not believe that the Chinese have spies in Canada, although some of these respondents apparently believe “there may be Chinese spies in the United States”, or simply don’t believe the statements of either PM Harper and Foreign Minister McKay or the Chinese government.
These discrepancies with respect to the spying question might be best explained by the various ways in which the public perceives how spying is conducted in the 21st Century. Some people perceive spying in the more classical espionage sense, others believe that spying is more related to commercial or industrial activities, to other respondents who don’t believe that ‘spying’ is an issue in Canada, who respond “if you count going to trade shows as spying”.
SCE Research
Commentary-Once again ROBBINS employs the unique “ROBBINS inverted baseline” question (The Queen-parallel historical symbol) format (that completely contradicts traditional polling methodology), in order to achieve a significantly improved impression of public opinion in this poll on Canada’s human rights history.
According to some respondents in this poll, the Canadian government’s treatment of Chinese immigrants was quite distressing. Historical research bears this assertion out. “Head taxes” were specific to Chinese immigrants and for many years there were additional laws on the Federal books prohibiting Chinese Canadians from bringing their loved ones to Canada. Yet, there remains a prevailing mood amongst many respondents in this poll that because Canada’s human rights transgressions were not as bad as some other democracies that somehow our pitiful treatment of the Chinese was acceptable.
This poll suggests to ROBBINS that if Canada’s history is not ‘as bad’, or as most respondents indicated ‘as good or better than most’, than it is probably a good thing to ensure a proper apology to the families of Chinese immigrants impacted by the poor human rights treatment previous generations received in this country. After all if we cannot begin to acknowledge this in Canada where most of the respondents see us as the standard bearer for human rights, than where will the standard for proper universal human rights begin?
It is quite clear that supporters of the Queen are less inclined to support apologies or compensation, however our ‘callers’ did not ‘get the sense’ that this was due to some lack of caring about human rights generally, but relating more to ‘an understanding’ of the development of a young country through some difficult and awkward times.
Prime Minister Harper can apologize on behalf of Canadians and be assured very general and broad based support for this action. He could likely provide compensation as well, but runs the risk of ‘too little too late’ or political pandering criticisms from even those that support the initiative generally. All of this is important particularly as Immigration Minister Monte Solberg contemplates policy initiatives and new “Bay” storeowner, American businessman Jerry Zucker, goes store to store in Canada with his own reminder of the importance of human rights (and good customer service).
There appears to be significant evidence that the Chinese government is interested in acquiring more modern technology particularly as this relates to resource sector patents and other proprietorial designs. There is further evidence that Chinese corporations have been purchasing Canadian companies ‘entirely’, simply to obtain the technologies that are held by those corporations. While there is also significant research to suggest that the Chinese are desperate for North American technology, there are other experts who insist that China has come a long way in this regard, and scoff at the idea of industrial espionage. Somewhat coincidentally, Chinese President Hu has recently announced his country’s desire to purchase U.S. technology. Will President Hu extend the same offer to Canada, or do they as some recent accusations suggest, have other plans for such acquisitions?
The issue of spying has ‘emerged’ as if out of nowhere, but given a sort of general mistrust or emphatic cautiousness among British Columbians relating to the Chinese government, particularly on longstanding human rights deficiencies, and according to ROBBINS researchers, a non-existent environmental program, it would seem that Foreign Minister Peter McKay may have hit a political nerve with his spying comments, which were echoed by Prime Minister Harper.
Whether or not spying comments cause diplomatic challenges between the Canadian and Chinese governments poses any number of new questions. With Environment Minister Rona Ambrose exploring discussions alternative to the Kyoto Accord with an Asia Pacific group of countries including the United States, and top Canadian officials running successful interference for our friends south of the border, it is fair to say that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has successfully ensured sufficient political capital with U.S. President George Bush to ensure a Made in Conservative Canada softwood deal with the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. It is also fair to say that as this new system of Asia Pacific alliances and cooperation is concerned, China is in no position to be remiss on INPUT with environmental discussions, as even countries like Russia, post Chernobyl anniversary are making waves with more environmentally conscious decisions.

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