Ethnicity Helps Define British Columbia’s Moral Compass

East Asian residents disagree with legalizing marijuana, while South Asians are the least likely to agree with abortion and gambling.

Vancouver, BC – Ethnicity is one of the major drivers of moral positions in British Columbia, a new Insights West poll has found.

The online survey of a representative provincial sample asked British Columbians about their personal views on 18 moral issues.

About seven-in-ten British Columbians agree with same-sex marriage (74%), abortion (73%), sexual relations between two people of the same sex (72%) and having a baby outside of marriage (70%).

While four-in-five British Columbians (81%) agree with an unmarried man and woman having sexual relations, the proportion increases among those of European descent (87%) but drops among East Asians (74%) and South Asians (68%). A similar scenario is observed with divorce, where 83% of British Columbians voice agreement, but only 67% of South Asians concur.

South Asians are also the least likely to agree with abortion (62%, compared to the province-wide average of 73%) and having a baby outside of marriage (54%, compared to 70%). Three-in-five British Columbians (60%) agree with gambling, but South Asians are not particularly supportive (49%).

On same-sex issues, British Columbians aged 18-34 have a higher level of agreement (87% for same-sex marriage and 84% for same-sex relations) than those aged 35-54 (72% and 70% respectively) and those over the age of 55 (69% and 66% respectively).

There are three other issues that show differences between East Asians and the entire population. While 50% of British Columbians agree with the death penalty, the proportion among East Asians rises to 54%. East Asians are also more likely to agree with medical testing on animals (48%, compared with the province-wide average of 36%) and less likely to agree with the legalization of marijuana use for recreational purposes (46%, compared to the province-wide average of 60%).

Three-in-five British Columbians (62%) agree with supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users, a proportion that rises to 66% among women.

“The survey outlines clear policy challenges for governments that are looking to connect with all components of British Columbia’s population,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Fewer than half of East Asian residents support marijuana legalization, and a similar proportion of South Asians agree with gambling—both decidedly lower numbers that what is observed among residents of European descent.”

Across the province, just over two-in-five residents agree with prostitution (45%) and pornography (43%). There are some sizeable gender shifts on both of these issues, with 58% of men agreeing with prostitution (compared to 35% of women) and 54% of male respondents agreeing with pornography (compared to 32% of female respondents).

British Columbians aged 55 and over are particularly opposed to pornography (28%, significantly lower than the province-wide average), but are more likely to agree with prostitution (50%) than their younger counterparts. South Asians are the least supportive of prostitution (36%).

Other issues were not as contentious, with 90% of British Columbians agreeing with contraception and 79% agreeing with doctor-assisted suicide. The three issues that garnered the lowest level of agreement across the province are buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur (35%), suicide (29%) and married men and/or women having an affair (18%).

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

Most of our surveys are conducted through our Your Insights panel. The Your Insights panel is comprised of 30,000 Canadians who share their opinions on a variety of political, economic, social and other issues while earning the opportunity to get paid and win great prizes. If you’re interested in joining, please register at

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 10 to August 13, 2016, among a representative sample of 824 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West


Photograph: Ted Murphy