April 2009

Excerpt from the preliminary report

Quebecers perceptions with respect to federalism




  • Study results reveal that overall, Quebecers recognize the virtues in the fact of belonging to the Canadian federation. In effect, important percentages of them indicate that they are in agreement with the following statements:
    – Federalism enables Quebecers to benefit from the advantages of belonging to a greater whole while at the same time preserving their cultural uniqueness (67%);
    – In a federation, the existence of two levels of government – federal and provincial – enables citizens to not be at the mercy of a single government and to benefit from competition between the two levels (60%);
    – Canadian federalism contains more advantages than disadvantages for Québec (55%).
  • However, they recognize that the existence of two levels of government may give rise to redundancies and inefficiencies (level of agreement: 75%).
  • Although a majority of Quebecers consider the government of Canada to be their government (level of agreement: 62%), an important percentage of them feel that that government is there above all to serve English Canadians (level of agreement: 48%).
  • A majority of Quebecers surveyed (55%) indicate that federalism evokes in their minds above all the idea of collaboration, while 40% state that federalism in their eyes is more a synonym for confrontation.
    – It was found, not surprisingly, that non-francophones (80%) as well as people who support the major national federal parties (CPC: 82%; LPC: 70%) and those in favour of NO in an eventual referendum (74%) are more likely to indicate that federalism evokes the idea of collaboration.
    – On the other hand, francophones (45%) as well as those in favour of YES (71%) and claiming to want to vote for the Bloc Québécois (69%) tend more to associate federalism with confrontation.
  • Quebecers in brief are quite divided on the question of the values they may have in common with other Canadians: more than half (54%) state that they have values in common with their fellow citizens outside Québec either a lot (16%) or quite a bit (39%), whereas
  • 43% hold the opposite opinion (a little: 37%; not at all: 6%);
  • More than one-third of Quebecers (37%) consider themselves Quebecers first of all and then Canadians, whereas 26% indicate that they characterize themselves as much Canadian as Quebecer;
    – Only slight percentages of those surveyed indicate that they define themselves uniquely as Quebecers (13%) or uniquely as Canadians (6%);
    – Moreover, we note that the percentages Quebecers indicating that they define themselves in one or another of the ways mentioned have remained all in all quite stable since 1998.
  • More than half of Quebecers (52%) believe that the government of Québec should have more power, whereas 8% are of the opinion that the federal government should have more and 34% feel that the division should remain as it is at the moment.
    – Note that the percentage of Quebecers who feel that the provincial government should have more power has decreased since 2003, dropping from 58% to 52%.
  • Nonetheless, opinions vary when it comes to the question of the division of powers in different sectors of activity. Thus, the percentages of people surveyed who indicate that the government of Québec should have more power are higher in the sectors of language and culture (65%), education (63%) and health care (58%).
  • On the other hand, the percentage is much weaker where the question of international relations is concerned. In effect, one-quarter of respondents (27%) believe that the government should have more power in the matter, while 38% are in favour of granting more power to the federal government and 30% feel that the division should remain as it is now.
  • Close to one-third (31%) of Quebecers believe that the amount paid by taxpayers to the federal government is greater than what the Canadian state spends in Québec, whereas 23% feel that the amount is less and 30% that it is equivalent. It should be pointed out that 16% of respondents did not feel able to offer an opinion.
  • The Quebecers surveyed are divided with regard to the ability of an independent Québec to deal with an economic crisis: 41% believe that Québec would make out less well than if it remained within Canada, while 41% feel that in fact it would do just as well. Only 13% of those surveyed believe that an independent Québec would be better equipped to deal with the current economic crisis.


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