Canadians Believe Police Favor CertainProtesters, GetAmid Unrest, Poll Finds

A new Angus Reid poll finds 64% of Canadians believe police treat some protesters better than others, with perceptions of bias varying along political lines. Meanwhile, protests and demonstrations continue to unfold across Canadian cities and university campuses, sparking tensions and debates over free expression and public safety.

Trim Correspondents
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Canadians Believe Police Favor CertainProtesters, GetAmid Unrest, Poll Finds

Canadians Believe Police Favor CertainProtesters, GetAmid Unrest, Poll Finds

Nearly two-thirds of Canadians believe police are giving preferential treatment to certain groups when dealing with demonstrations, according to a new Angus Reid poll. The perception of bias in law enforcement's response to protests varies along political lines, with supporters of different parties accusing police of favoring their ideological opponents.

Why this matters: This perception of bias has significant implications for trust in law enforcement and the ability of police to maintain public safety during protests. If left unaddressed, it could lead to further polarization and erosion of trust in institutions.

The poll found that 64% of Canadians think police treat some protesters better than others. Among NDP voters, 73% believe law enforcement favors right-leaning demonstrators. In contrast, 68% of Conservative supporters say police side with left-wing protesters, including those rallying against Israel. Even 60% of Liberal voters agree that police response is inconsistent across different protests.

Despite these perceptions of bias, an overwhelming majority of Canadians, 86%, affirm that the right to protest is fundamentally important to the country's democracy. The poll results highlight the challenges faced by law enforcement in maintaining public trust while handling contentious demonstrations.

The Angus Reid poll also sheds light on the current federal political scene. If an election were held today, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) would garner 44% of the vote, a substantial 10-point increase from their previous standing. The Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) has seen a sharp decline, dropping 10 points to 23% support. The New Democratic Party (NDP) and Bloc Québécois (BQ) stand at 17% and 8%, respectively, while the Green Party of Canada (GPC) and People's Party of Canada (PPC) trail at 5% and 2%.

These numbers translate into a projected seat distribution that would significantly alter the balance of power in Parliament. The CPC is on the verge of winning 211 seats, a gain of 92, while the LPC could lose 93 seats, plummeting to just 67. The BQ may increase their representation to 39 seats, and the NDP would remain relatively stable with 24 seats. The GPC would hold onto 2 seats under this scenario.

The poll's findings come amidst heightened tensions and unrest in several Canadian cities. In Toronto, police have responded to over 650 demonstrations related to the Middle Eastern conflict since October 7, 2023. Toronto Police Service Chief Myron Demkiw reported that two charges of public incitement of hatred have been laid in 2024, with one being a new case since the last hate crime statistics update in March.

One particularly egregious incident involved Razaali Awan Bah Adur, a 45-year-old man arrested and charged for making antisemitic remarks at a counter-protest in Nathan Phillips Square on April 7. A source condemned the hateful statements, saying, "Making antisemitic statements to children is just vile."

University campuses across Canada have also become focal points for demonstrations, with protesters demanding that institutions divest from Israeli interests and disclose their investments. Encampments have sprung up at schools including the University of Ottawa, University of British Columbia, McGill University, and Western University. Demonstrators are also calling for academic boycotts of Israel.

Universities are struggling to balance free expression with maintaining a safe and inclusive environment. Toronto Metropolitan University issued a statement urging community members to create a"physically safe, inclusive, supportive, and welcoming environment for all. "However, the University of Toronto Faculty Association criticized their university's ban on encampments and building occupations as an"unreasonable, disproportionate, and entirely premature attempt to inhibit the lawful and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression."

As protests continue to roil Canadian cities and campuses, the perception of bias in policing, along with the shifting political environment, suggests that these issues will remain at the forefront of public discourse in the months to come. "There is no going back,"one source stated. "If you wish it was more about peace, two states, shared society, then it's up to you to get involved."

Key Takeaways

  • 64% of Canadians believe police treat some protesters better than others.
  • Perception of police bias varies along political lines, with each party accusing police of favoring their opponents.
  • 86% of Canadians believe the right to protest is fundamental to democracy.
  • Conservative Party leads in polls with 44% support, while Liberal Party drops to 23%.
  • Protests and demonstrations continue to roil Canadian cities and campuses, with tensions around Israel and free speech.