Montreal, Wednesday, October 12, 2011
80% of Quebecers believe that the repatriation of the Constitution of 1982 was a good thing, while 88% think that the inclusion of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms was also a good thing. This was one of the findings that emerged from a new survey released today by the Federal Idea, a think tank on federalism. The survey was commissioned from CROP and conducted on a sample of 1000 respondents at the end of September. This is the third survey conducted by the organization since it was founded just over two years ago.
Federal Idea wanted the survey to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, and asked CROP to poll Quebecers on their perceptions of the event, as well as other issues concerning their political options, their identity, the constitutional status of Quebec and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The survey yielded many findings that shed new light on the current political climate, as follows:
- 63% of Quebecers say they are proud to be both Quebecers and Canadians;
- 63% agree that federalism entails more advantages than disadvantages; 77% say the debate over Quebec’s political future should be set aside so that we can address more immediate problems;
- 71% feel that the sovereignty debate is a thing of the past (in a previous survey conducted by Federal Idea in April 2010, only 58% shared this opinion);
- 73% of them would prefer that the Quebec nation be recognized in the constitution;
- Only 25% would opt for an independent Quebec if they were asked to choose between this option and remaining in the Canadian federation with the current constitution or a constitution amended to make it acceptable to the Government of Quebec.
REPATRIATION OF THE CONSTITUTION
Concerning the 1982 repatriation, 80% of Quebecers agree that this was a good thing, while 88% of them think that the inclusion of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Constitution was a good thing. 75% of Quebecers approve the protection provided to the anglophone minority in Quebec. In spite of the fact that 80% believe that repatriation of the Constitution was a good thing, the survey reveals that 40% of Quebecers know that 1982 is the year the Constitution was repatriated.
Concerning the fact that the Constitution was repatriated and amended without Quebec’s consent, they are not prepared to agree that either party was in the right: 31% indicate that Quebec was right not to have signed and 32% indicate that Ottawa was right to proceed without Quebec’s consent.
Quebecers are more divided over whether Bill 101 takes precedence over the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While 59% of them feel that the Charter should take precedence over Bill 101, 41% feel that Bill 101 should take precedence instead. This relative ambivalence is due mainly the fact that 51% of francophones give precedence to the Charter as against 49% to Bill 101. It is also worth noting that a majority of francophones (67%) feel that the courts have weakened Bill 101 by interpreting it in light of the Charter of Rights.
When Quebecers are asked what current they identify with, the findings reveal a wide range of nuances, while a majority still refuses to choose any one of the options proposed. For example, the survey found that 20% say they are federalists, 19% sovereignists, 17% nationalists, and 8% autonomists, while 37% do not identify with any of these categories. These results suggest that a large proportion of Quebecers no longer sees itself in terms of the debate that has dominated Quebec politics for forty years, and may explain why the two major parties in this debate find it difficult to continue to inspire the population.
APPOINTMENTS TO FEDERAL IDEA
The Federal Idea would also like to take advantage of the release of this poll to announce the appointment of Mr. Jocelyn Coulon, as Executive Director of the organization and Mr. Martin Coiteux as Research Director. Messrs Coulon and Coiteux are respectively Director of the Francophone Research Network on Peace Operations affiliated with CERIUM at Université de Montréal, and Professor in the Department of International Business at HEC Montreal.