The Canadian Aeroplan rewards program has come under fire for a recent online survey where customers were asked controversial questions on a number of topics, ranging from race to homosexuality. The survey began with questions about shopping and travel, before quickly moving on to questions about their social views that upset many. One of the questions asked whether immigration threatened “the purity of the country,” another asked whether men were naturally superior to women, and whether traditional marriage was the only way to form a family. Twitter users have taken to the micro-blogging site to accuse the company of “insensitivity” and “a lack of awareness” over the sinister questions asked, with Toronto city councillor Mike Layton posting: “How questions are asked can often shape answers but more damaging - shape people’s perspectives. Did you ask about households with parents sharing responsibility? About how our society is made more prosperous by welcoming people from other countries?”
Aeroplan have responded to comment that they will be deleting all of the data collected from the poll in an official statement: “This survey in no way reflects our opinions or values. We apologize for sending it out and will be deleting all of the data collected from it. We apologize to any members who were offended by the questions in the survey, which we had not properly reviewed internally. After looking into it, we found there are aspects of the survey that don’t meet the standards we hold ourselves to in terms of the kind of information we gather in order to provide the best program for our members.” CROP, the Montreal-based market research firm behind the questionnaire was less quick to apologise, and have stood behind their controversial polling methods.
We apologize for any offense caused by the questions in this survey. It does not reflect our values as a company and we will be deleting all data gathered from it.— Aeroplan (@Aeroplan) April 2, 2018
The president of CROP, Alain Giguère, took part in an interview with CTV News where he explained that the best way to capture someone's true beliefs is to ask so-called 'bold questions': "For instance, one of the questions that has been shocking … is when we say ‘There’s too much immigration. It threatens the purity of the country.’ I agree that the statement is awful. But you know, 43 per cent of Canadians agree with such an item. So if you agree to a very bold question like this, I know that you’re intolerant. Let’s say, if you’re too nice in your question, if you ask something like, I don’t know, ‘Immigrants contribute marvelously well to the wealth of the country’ and so on, sometimes when you’re too nice we get as answers what we call socially acceptable answers. People try to be nice with the interview. They want to look nice. If you ask a very bold question and you get people who say they agree with a very bold question -- now you got it. You got the real person.”
Giguère called the situation “sad” and said the intention was not to offend anyone, but to track societal changes in an attempt to capture what it really means to be a person: "We’ve been tracking this over the last 20 years with the same questions. You change the wording, you can’t go on tracking." Apparently, the divisive question on the merits of immigration was based on an actual interaction that Giguere witnessed as part of a focus group many years ago, when someone actually commented that immigration was threatening the purity of Canada as part of a wider discussion. The very next day, the question was added to the survey. CROP post about the findings on their own personal website, and in a blog post last year the company described the findings from one 'favourite' question, positing whether "the father of the family must be master in his own house". Apparently, CROP measured the statement first in 1983 and 42% of Canadians agreed. This dropped to 19% in 2003, but has since began to rise again and is currently up to 29%.