A majority of Canadians believe that refugee claimants illegally crossing the border into Canada from the U.S. are not a threat to the country, according to a new Nanos survey.

The survey found that 62 per cent of Canadians don’t believe the border-crossing refugees are a threat. Five per cent said the refugees pose a terrorist threat, while another five per cent saw them as a threat to Canadian jobs. Eighteen per cent said the refugees are both a terrorist threat and a threat to jobs.

When asked specifically whether refugees crossing the border from the U.S. represent a terrorist threat to Canada, 52 per cent said no. Thirty-four per cent said the refugees represent a minor terrorist threat, and nine per cent said they represent a major terrorist threat. Five per cent were unsure.

Still, the Nanos survey found that just over 70 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support setting up special refugee crossing points to minimize potential terrorist threats.

For the most part, Canadians don’t see the refugee claimants as “any sort of threat to Canadian security or Canadian jobs,” pollster Nik Nanos told CTV News Thursday.

He said there are a number of reasons for that, including the “default position” for many Canadians to be welcoming of immigrants and refugees.

Nanos also said there seems to be “a significant amount of sympathy” for people who are now fleeing the U.S. because they are worried about U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration and deportation policies.

Since the start of this year, 1,698 people have presented themselves at Canada-U.S. border crossings and asked for refugee protection, compared with 728 people who did so during the same time period in 2016.

So far this year, more than 430 people have crossed the border illegally into Canada in such places as Emerson, Man. That’s about the same number of illegal entrants per month as last year, according to immigration and border officials.

More than half, or 52 per cent, of Canadians support the federal government continuing to be open to refugees even if the U.S. puts political or economic pressure on Ottawa to limit or exclude people from certain countries, the Nanos survey found.

Twenty per cent “somewhat” support a continued openness of Canadian borders to refugees, while 27 per cent are either opposed or somewhat opposed to the idea. 

With files from The Canadian Press


Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians 18 or older between Feb. 25 and 28, as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online.

The margin of error is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

This story has been updated to correct the number of respondents who said they were unsure whether refugees crossing the border from the U.S. represent a terrorist threat to Canada.