23 September 2019

Perceptions of Racism in Newfoundland and Labrador #nlpoli

VOCM's Question of the Day is not a reliable gauge of public opinion.

But the three times that VOCM asked about race in the province over the past five years,  the answers stand out in light of events in the province in the same period.

Here are the polls and responses:


Improvements needed but intention is good

Don’t Know
12 Jun 14

Do you think there is a problem with racism in your part of the province?

14 Aug 15

Do you believe racism is becoming a problem in the province.

17 Sep 19

Is institutional racism an issue in this province?


This needs some context, though. The 12 June 2014 poll came a day after news that a boy in Westport said he was bullied and harassed because he was black.  Nothing turned up in a google search for any mention in the news of racism in Newfoundland in August 2015.  The September poll came after the accusations against Perry Trimper.

The third poll result appears to be inconsistent with the other two but arguably it isn't.  VOCM asked a different question, one that talked about institutional racism in government as opposed to in the society as a whole.  VO also offered four options to select for that poll instead of the three in the earlier polls.

Because the response in that extra category is that the intention is good,  that's likely people who were inclined to say that there isn't racism but that institutionally things could be better.

What you have do, though is place those poll results in the context of even more stories about racism in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past five years and more.

In November 2015,  MP Yvonne Jones raised concerns about racist comments expressed in Goose Bay against Syrian refugees.

In 2016 and 2017,  academic Jamie Baker published the results of his research on racism in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A 2018 CRA poll on racism  found that "one in eight (13%) Newfoundland and Labrador residents indicate that they have been racially discriminated against, with one in ten (9%) having most recently experienced racial discrimination within the last five years, and four percent having most recently experienced such an incident five years ago or more. Meanwhile, nearly nine in ten (86%) residents have never been racially discriminated against."

Then there were the racist posters at MUN and the incident of  blackface at a law enforcement social event or accusations that racism was commonplace at Muskrat Falls work site.

Those VOCM polls don't match all that other evidence.