The Anti-Terrorism Act and Security Measures in Canada: Public Views, Impacts and Travel Experiences

3. Purpose

The Department of Justice is committed to informing the ATA review as much as possible. In order to aid in this effort, the Department has undertaken public opinion polling to build upon the previous research and to explore the views and knowledge of Canadians on the anti-terrorism legislation. Therefore, due to concerns raised in the previously mentioned research regarding the potential for racial profiling and the impact of post-9/11 travel security measures, questions related to these issues were also included. As such, this report will address five separate topic areas and examine any statistically significant differences between the responses of visible minority and non-minority participants. Specifically, the five areas in this report include:

  • Awareness of the ATA and its provisions;
  • Application of the ATA;
  • Defining racial profiling and perceived prevalence;
  • Impact of the ATA and related measures on the participants; and
  • Impact of travel-related security measures on the participants over the last four years.

4. Methodology

This national general population survey, conducted by Environics Research Group, was based on a sample of 1,703 respondents from the public above the age of 18 years. The sample was generated using random sampling methods. The sample also contains an over-representation of individuals from across the country who had self-identified as being from a visible minority group, as past research had indicated concerns surrounding the potential for visible minorities to be disproportionately affected by the anti-terrorism legislation and related measures.

The survey, which was administered in March 2005, took approximately 40 minutes to complete [2]. The response rate was approximately 10% which is typical of a telephone survey conducted by a polling company. A copy of the survey can be found in Appendix A.

Only the participants that responded to the question regarding self-identification of visible minority or non-minority status were included in the comparative analysis. The number of respondents who identified as either a visible minority or non-minority was 1,685. Within this group, 23% of respondents self-identified themselves as a visible minority. [3]

Given the nature of the stratified sample and the over-representation of individuals who identified themselves as a visible minority, it is possible to generalize the findings of this study to the general Canadian population.

The data provided in this study were analyzed by creating dichotomous variables wherever possible. As many questions were based on a 4-point Likert-type scale, responses to each opposing end of the scale were merged. For example, if the response options were: "very happy" "happy", "unhappy" and "very unhappy", the two "unhappy" categories were merged as were the two "happy" categories. Further, for open-ended questions, each response was re-coded to be a dichotomous variable for each of the individual responses. For these questions, participants may have provided more than one response. All comparative analyses were done using chi-squares, except for cells containing expected counts or five or less [4].

The analysis for each section is presented by the overall findings followed by statistically significant differences between visible minority responses and non-minority responses.

The results of this survey are accurate within ± 2.6% for the entire sample and ± 5% for the visible minority sample.

  • [2] In addition to questions analyzed in this report, the survey also included questions on unrelated criminal justice issues.
  • [3] Based on the 2001 Census by Statistics Canada, 13.4% of the Canadian population self-identify as being a member of a visible minority group.
  • [4] A Bonferroni correction was not done as there were greater concerns over committing a Type I error than a Type II error. Specifically, given the nature of the area studied here, it was viewed as more important to incorrectly find statistically significant differences between the two groups than risk not finding a difference where one actually exists. Please note that statistical significance refers to the concept that the differences between the groups have not been found by chance. There were some instances where there appear to be large differences between visible minority and non-minority responses within this section. However, these apparent differences were not statistically significant due to the small numbers involved.
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