Poll: 62 per cent of Quebecers see broad, systemic corruption

Quebecers more concerned about corruption than anyone else in Canada


Quebecers are more concerned about corruption and the ethical standards of their politicians than the residents of any other province, according to a poll by Angus Reid. And 62 per cent in Quebec consider corruption in the province to be a broad or systemic problem.

The poll, conducted this week, surveyed 1,260 randomly selected Canadians, and found that 68 per cent of Quebecers are either “very concerned” or “moderately concerned” with corruption in their home province. British Columbia (61 per cent) and Ontario (56 per cent) finished second and third. As far as the ethics of elected officials as viewed nationwide, Quebec politicians scored the worst of any province. Forty-nine per cent of all Canadians said politicians in Quebec are “moderately” or “very unethical.” Ontario politicians finished second: 36 per cent of respondents deemed that province’s politicians to be unethical. But nobody is as harsh on their own elected officials, the poll found, as Quebecers themselves—58 per cent of whom describe their politicians as “moderately unethical” or “very unethical.” Just 24 per cent in Quebec described them as either “moderately” or “very ethical.”

When identifying root causes, 41 per cent of Quebecers blame “systemic failings best dealt with by policy reforms” and another 21 per cent say it’s a “symptom of broader public attitudes.” Just 22 per cent in Quebec blame corruption on a “few bad apples.” According to Angus Reid’s Jaideep Mukerji, “this fits in well with other polling we’ve seen that shows overwhelming public support for a broader public inquiry into the links between political parties and outside interests.”

The poll comes amid much coverage, including a cover story in Maclean’s about corruption in Quebec that Premier Jean Charest and the House of Commons both attacked as unfair. In the midst of the Bastarache hearings into allegations against Charest’s government, and with other controversies in recent years, the issue of political corruption has been front and centre in Quebec. But if Quebecers are concerned, they don’t seem to think the problem is unique to them. In fact, 47 per cent of Quebecers feel that politicians in their province are “just as ethical” as politicians everywhere else. On that point, the rest of Canada doesn’t seem to agree. Of those surveyed from outside the province, 44 per cent said politicians in Quebec were “less ethical.”

Methodology: From September 29 to September 30, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,260 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The survey included an over sample of residents of Quebec. The margin of error for the Canadian sample-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for the Quebec sample is 4.38%, 19 times out of 20. Results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.


Poll: 62 per cent of Quebecers see broad, systemic corruption

  1. Through the fog of la politique de j'accuse, a sizable number of people in a variety of jurisdictions are very concerned that the systems designed to deliver honest governance have been significantly compromised – aka corrupted. Yet, there are, numerically few, but much more vocal groups that are seathing with indignation at the very idea that something might be amiss.

    And what do we get from the HoC? Condemnation of the message! With fully closed ranks, no less. I should expect that they would like to see the end of this uncomfortable line of inquiry. Afterall, it is on their watch that such shady dealings have been going on.

    It also gives me pause that the motion to express displeasure at Maclean's was introduced by a Bloc MP, when the sovereigntist bloggers are suggesting that all of the politicians under suspicion of corruption are federalists. One would think that the Bloc would be welcoming this exposure of corruption as it is their federalist opponents that would be tarred.

  2. How many blogs are you going to open on Quebec, bunch of rednecks?

    What do you want to hear or read about Quebec that hasn't already been said or read? That we are dirty? Obese? Stupid? Loud? Ugly? Smelly?

    Would that make you happy?

    • The past two weeks Maclean's has been talking about corruption in Québec. Clearly they hit a nerve. What would make you happy? If Maclean's "rednecks" looked at the Bastarache commission and didn't write about it? Didn't discuss it? Didn't discuss the corruption in the construction industry? So the Quebec government can do whatever they want and nobody can criticize them? Would that make you happy?

      • Perhaps they could do the same paper about corrups english "redneks" .. Funny they can't find any of them…

      • "Clearly they hit a nerve."

        Pourquoi réagissons-nous avec autant d'émotions à cette provocation?

        Nous réagissons autant parce que c'est la dixième provocation, la centième, la millième.

        Je te dirai un jour que tu es un attardé et tu passeras ton chemin. Je te le dirai à chaque jour et, un jour, tu te révolteras.


        • Patrice, ce n'est pas a MacLean's de faire du sensationalisme avec
          la politique au Quebec. S'ils desirent faire du journalisme, tant mieux.

          Mais s'ils veulent plutot mettre tous les Quebecois dans le meme
          bateau pis le faire couler avec des accusations gratuites et infondees,
          ben la y a un asti de probleme. Pis si t'es trop cave pour comprendre ca,
          reste dont chez vous.

          • Desole Patrice, j'avais mal
            compris le sense de ton message…

  3. Aaron: "randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists".

    If my impression is correct (please correct me if I am wrong), "panelists" refer to people who have pre-registered with AR.

    Even if this "pre-registered subpopulation" is randomly selected, I would raise a question as to whether it truly represents the population at large. Kind of like a "voluntary" census, I think, where people volunteer to be polled by AR by registering there, isn't it? Note: AR has apparently carefully claimed random selection only from their panelists.

    Unless I have misunderstood it, I am also puzzled why the margin of error associated with the Quebec sample, which AR apparently says is oversampled, is larger than that of the Canadian (ROC?) sample. One would have intuitively expected smaller MOEs with a larger Quebec sampling but perhaps it has something to do with the stats. weighting that AR mentions at the end?

    • you're right, there may be some sampling bias in having pre-registered 'panelists', but you can't get around that with any voluntary survey. When Angus, or Ipsos make telephone calls at random, they run into the same problem that people will just hang up, not wanting to bother with a survey.

      The Web based method is basically pre-screening out those who hang up on you if you called them at home (during supper or whatever).. You might actually have a more representative sample, if the surveys can be answered at the respondant's convienience. Except of course for Luddites… they will be underrepresented.

      Public opinion polling industry is more or less heading in this direction. So whatever bias is there, we'll have to live with.

      • I do appreciate the difficulties with modern polling and do realize that it would be a challenge (with people hanging up — I am guilty of this myself, etc) even for a polling company with the highest integrity.

        Having said that though, it is most unfortunate to me that: (a) most media, and voters, do not understand that polls conducted with these methodologies may be inherently less reliable — some voters/people in the media apparently quote these polls with relish, and (b) polling companies do not do more to educate the public that their MOEs could even be higher than estimated because of this inherent difficulty.

        For myself, I do applaud AR describing its methodology in somewhat more detail here than usual but would have appreciated a little more detail as to how they evaluated their stats. weighting since it seems to have affected the MOEs significantly.

  4. People are outraged, politicians are in a snit, the weak of mind are offended but has anyone stood up and declared that Quebec governance isn't corrupt. Canadians only have to look at the long list of corrupt leaders, policies and governments that have their roots in Quebec from Trudeau through Mulrony, Chretien (the worst of the bunch) to Charest to see that corruption is clear and present in that province. Why? I don't know but simply shutting down the debate by squealling biggot and prejudice does nothing but confirm people's worst fears – there is deep seated corruption and it is being perpetuated by those in power provincally and federally but shooting the messanger – I expect that from the Liberals, NDP and Bloc – I am disgusted the Conservatives signed on to the cover-up.

    • Well in Quebec they look at themselves and ask for justice by using commissions. That's, I think , the only reason why we see more obvious corruption there.

      Who does that in Alberta? Who is outraged to live in a one party state? Who asks to know how the oilsands are managed and if the population receives its fair share of the pie? The corruption is institutionalized in Alberta, it's accepted and promoted by the electors. So please don't condemn the people that are trying to regain their political freedom and asks for answers. they actually work for the common good.

  5. I see the mop-up continues…

    So, question: did Maclean's commission this poll to provide some cover for their ridiculous cover story last week?

    • Apparently so. I'm actually stunned.

      According to this magazine, polls replace facts in journalism.

      J'ai mon voyage…

      • I suspect "stunned" is a natural condition for you. Mind you, that's just a qualitative observation, based on admittedly incomplete data.

  6. Truth Hurts !!!!

  7. It's probably because the sovereinists know that it helps there cause or at least they think so, when they unveil these scandals that are always done by the LIBERALS at all the three levels of gouvernment ( federal, provincial, municipal )…

    But what they don't understand when they say that the solution is sovereinety of Quebec, is that it won't make the LIBERALS disapear…

    The problem of "corruption" is within Québec, and it is done by Quebecers who happen to be LIBERALS, and who use the axe federalist-sovereinist to be put in power, and then "F…" all Quebecers!!! ( the word in F is censured to be sure that my text will be published )…

    The solution to all that LIBERAL "abuse" of the population of Québec, and that sovereinist "opportunism", would be to have a "right wing" party in the next provincial election, that would beat both the PQ and the PLQ, and work for the people of Québec, not for there own interests…

  8. 68% corruption concern in Quebec – 4.38% point Quebec sample margin of error = 63.62%;
    61% corruption concern in BC + 3.1% point Canada wide margin of error (the unpublished BC sample error would be much higher) = 64.1%

    In other words, I could re-write this article saying that British Columbians are MORE concerned with corruption than Quebeckers. And I could justify that by saying, as Andrew Coyne does in his article "What Lies Beneath", that Quebeckers at times have a "worldly Catholic tolerance of official vice". As we know, BC is a protestant province where corruption isn't tolerated (sarcasm). Hence they are "more" concerned with it.

    • I could re-write this article saying that British Columbians are MORE concerned with corruption…

      I suppose you could, but you would be committing a most egregious assault on statistical principles and common sense.

    • I think you misunderstand how confidence intervals work. Confidence intervals (margins of error) tell us the range in which it is 95% likely the data falls (assuming there is no sampling bias, etc.). However it does not mean that any result within the confidence interval is equally likely. With the assumption that the standard error will be normally distributed, most plausible results will be fairly close to the observed mean. 68% will appear within one standard deviation of the mean.

      You also, conveniently, pick an English Canadian province that often IS discussed in the context of rampant corruption. If the takeaway from your post is that Quebec might be as corrupt as BC, this is hardly a ringing endorsement.

  9. Altavista gets it – if journalists are going to conclude that Quebec is the most corrupt province in Canada, then give us proof, not polls.

    I'd fail any first year political science paper that attempted to make this argument using (and ignoring) the evidence Maclean's chose to.

    • What do you think of the Bastarache commission then ?

      We called the Maclean's article on ourselve… just look at the Quebec paper headlines since the start of this year. Someone was bound to notice the trend on corruption allegations and write a paper on it…

      It is sad, but it is so.

      Cheers and have a laugh. It's all a joke anyways.

  10. 90% of those polls noted that macleans magazine had recently run an article declaring the province the most corrupt in the country…

  11. Ahahahah. Macleans gets in trouble for its article, then all of a sudden a poll appears, comissioned after they get in trouble which, surprise surprise, validates the previous article's premise despite the fact that it doesn't. Asking people if they think corruption is rampant rather than actually proving, you know, that corruption is actually happening, which in the last article they stated they couldn't do, just isn't the same.

    If Quebec is more corrupt society, come to me with the tangible proof of cases at all 3 municipal levels of government compared to all 10 provinces and 3 territories. If Quebec is most corrupt, so be it.

    The point here is that people shouldn't be writing articles based on perception. Some stories get more coverage than others and that doesn't denote guilt to one province over another. Linda Jackson in Vaughn didn't get national coverage. Mayor Hazel's corruption case isn't being discussed. Tie Domi's brother in Toronto. What about the Chuck Cadman affair? An Ontarian elected in Alberta offered a BCer a million dollar bribe to bring down the government! Certainly, the biggest last scandal happened in Quebec, but that doesn't make Quebec the most corrupt. Until Maclean's can prove it like it in any university, hell, in any high school, the criticism is correct.

    • I'd certainly agree with Nick. That this laughably inadequate article, coupled now with what appears to be a poll taken to justify the article after the fact (itself an egregiously ethical problem), is truly bizarre. Consider that Maclean's has for years published a yearly comprehensive quantitative and qualitative study that aims to determine the best and worst universities in Canada. Many can (and have) taken issue with the methodology and data collection process Maclean's has taken for its universities rankings, but few can argue with the evidence-based conclusions Maclean's reaches based on the data collection and methodology it employs. And anyways, its methodology is fairly solid on this project, and, in fact, the magazine has rightly tinkered with its approach over the 15 or so odd years it's published this survey.

      So, if it can devote the scholarly rigour necessary to do that, why did Maclean's refuse to do the same with Quebec? And why are Maclean's editors and columnists – like the normally rational and reasonable Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne – still defending this trash (while admittedly doing a lame job of it)?

      This is an epic fail on almost every count, and Maclean's loses a little of its precious reputation every time one of its journalists, columnists or editors continues to stand behind such an obviously poorly researches and reasoned article.

  12. Is this a joke?

    Did Macleans actually commission a poll to justify its headline?

    You guys can't be serious.

  13. Did anybody really expect Quebec politicians to stand up and say…"Yeah…we've got a problem."

    Did anybody really expect our federal government to not pander to Quebec via the HOC vote?

    The solution to all of this is clear…bump up transfer payments to Quebec.

  14. What if Quebec is the most corrupt province in Canada? The kind of nonsense described in the article occurs in EVERY province. It occurs at the federal, provincial and local levels. Instead of pointing fingers, wouldn't it be more productive to address the underlying issues?

  15. So why did Rogers apologize? Ah nevermind, I know the answer, it's just to save face… but still, comeon.

  16. Methodology: From September 29 to September 30, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,260 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The survey included an over sample of residents of Quebec.

    Uh-oh. Maybe that is something that should have commissioned FOR your issue, rather than performed AFTER it? But it raises a question (that I don't see answered in your piece above): Was this Angus-Reid survey commissioned by Maclean's, or did the polling company take it on itself to assess the people's take on this topical issue?

  17. …and 38% benefit.

  18. So everyone's right: there's a problem of corruption in Québec ("Quebecers are more concerned about corruption and the ethical standards of their politicians than the residents of any other province"); and the ROC is indeed prejudiced against that province ("44 per cent said politicians in Quebec were “less ethical"). Don't you just love fairy tale endings to shoddy journalism.

  19. The real scary thing is not how corrupt Quebec is, that's a given, but that a lot of these same people have been in Ottawa since the 1960”s, yes Quebec is definitely corrupt but official Ottawa comes a close second. I have lost track of the billion dollar boondoggles, scandal, corruption that has gone on in Ottawa for decades. Trudeau brought this same mentality to Ottawa and its been rotting and getting worse with every passing decade. Ottawa is very similar to Quebec. A cesspool of slime, corruption, fraud, spin…a complete disaster.

    • That what we get when recycling corrupt politicians and ideology. Canadians are obsessive recyclers, and that's what we get from being obssesively green.

  20. I'd recommend that Macleans do a serious investigation into the ongoing corruption and coverup of Gordon Campbell's Liberal government in BC. There you will find corruption of the highest order. The BC Rail political corruption trial is a blue print for how Gordon Campbell does business. Criminal activity by other politiicians pale in comparison to that of Gordon Campbell and his inner circle of crooks.

  21. To post an article saying Quebecers are concerned about corruption to justify the totally biased MacLeans "study" is really sick. As pathetic as Mr Coyne replie to the CBC quoting a La Presse journalist. Macleans is nothing and has never been nothing more than a pile of crap the same as their French version l'actualité. A magazine you read at the dentist's that's it.

  22. Of course 62% see systemic corruption. When the federalists are in power and it's scandals after scandals after lies…. We see that the process of nominating judges was change. Every cgoverment in Québec applied the same procedure from Marc-André Bédard (the PQ minister who cleaned it up) untill Jean Charest's flying federalist came to power. Then, he did it the federal way. The daycares. Under the PQ they were non profit organisations, The flying federalists came in private sector was included and of course ppl were selling theyre buisness once they had a permit and making loads of money. Once again ppl with money bought theyre way trough the liberals.

    This mentality is common in the federalist camp. The sponsorship scandal' s aim was to buy the loyalty of the nation of Québec. The option Canada scandal where the federal goverment and others from outside Québec violated Quebec's electorral laws during the referendum was deemed OK because they had to save Canada… Read Jean Chrétien's testimony in the Gomerey inquiry,

    Part 2 in next comment

  23. You can retrace that phenomenon in Quebec (that sociologue Stéphane Kelley called la petite lotterie) in 1840. The system is similar to what was done in a lot of countries that were colonize by the Brits and Frnech. You buy a part of the elite and make sure that in return they make the rest accept theyre place. Not all federalists are corrupt in Québec. But with all the scandals one has to ask himself if that was the "fédéralisme rentable" that Robert Bourassa was talking of. For the ROC (rest of canada), before saying Québec is the most corrupted province and that we lack democracie, perhaps they should relfect on the origins of those scandals. A lot of those corruption scandals came from Canada and not from Quebec. The goal is to buy the Quebec's loyalty to Canada which for obvious rreasons declined troughout Québec history,

    • I think you are right that Quebec federalists do tend to be the source of more corruption, from Bourassa to Chretien to Tremblay to Charest. However, I think you are wrong to think about these scandals as originating "from Canada". Firstly, Quebec's statism offers governments a far wider latitude in which to engage in corruption than in other provinces. The PQ has done a great deal more than the federalists to create a setting in which corruption can thrive.

      Secondly, while English Canadians certainly wish federalist Quebecois well, the Quebec Liberal party is hardly an outside entity. Were Quebec to secede you would still have the same set of domestic interests that make up the Liberal party, the same political figures and the same lack of scruples about bare-knuckle politics. At some point they would win control of Quebec's national government. These guys are willing to profit from power, and you want to give them the powers of a national government with which to do so.

      Finally, the practice of coopting elites was hardly endemic to the British and French. Moreover, imperialist powers (eg. Spain and Portugal) that instead replaced (ie. killed) local elites and replaced them with new elites generally produced even more corrupt countries. For a little perspective it is worth noting that Canada is not especially corrupt by international standards – nor do British colonies do that poorly on corruption (at least the rich ones).

      Transparency Int'l Corruption rankings (higher rank = less corrupt)
      Main British Colonies:
      #2: New Zealand
      #9: Australia
      #14: Canada
      #46: South Africa
      #88: India
      #145: Pakistan

  24. Vous aimez ça salir la réputation des canadiens-français du Québec. Vous pouvez être certains que jamais je n'aurai un Rodger pour n'importe quel service. Vous mettez le visage de Jean Chjrétien, un Québécois très honorable et très honnête. Vous publiez des propos détestables et incorrects. Celà est rendu à New York, bande d'enfoirés.

  25. I would have liked to have seen the results of such a poll BEFORE all the Macleans publicity about corruption in Quebec, but nonetheless… In Alberta it's legal for a company to give a political party $30,000 during an election campaign, whereas in Quebec companies aren't even permitted to give to a political party at all. Obviously if a company tries to bypass the law and gets caught, there's a scandal and the "perception" in the public of corruption. In Alberta there is no scandal and no perception of corruption because it's not even illegal! It's clear that Quebec just holds its politicians to a higher standard. The same goes for the partisan naming of judges. That's done all over Canada, at every level, but because Quebecers are holding a commission and calling it into question, there is a public "perception" in Quebec of government corruption. In reality though, it doesn't at all indicate that Quebec is more corrupt than Alberta.

  26. Could anyone please explain what "Systemic Corruption" is? Thank you.

    PS, just a simple grade 10 project.

  27. The reason BC residents are concerned with corruption begs the question. why don't québecers feel more concerned about corruption in their own province.?
    The reason IS simple in other parts of Canada, they expose it and thry to correct it. In Qubec for generations they swept it under the table because it is so widespead!!
    And don'T TRY TO SAY it isn't so. I live in this sespoolof corruption . and pay for it every single day !!!

  28. where's the corruption ???
    I can't see anything from within this giant pot hole.