Poll raises questions about Quebec values charter - Macleans.ca

Poll raises questions about Quebec values charter

Many Quebecers think the province is already too accommodating


Clement Allard/CP

In the outcry from federal politicians over the Parti Québécois government’s proposed Quebec charter of values, a recurring theme is the prediction that Quebecers themselves will overwhelmingly reject the charter’s rules against provincial public servants wearing obvious religious symbols.

But a poll from Angus Reid Global—based on a survey conducted over four days just before the PQ unveiled (if that’s the right term) details of the controversial charter—reveals a deep divide between Quebec and the rest of Canada when it comes to making room for religious and ethnic minorities.

Results of the poll released this morning show 64 per cent of Quebecers believe the province is already doing too much to accommodate religious and cultural differences, but a mere 17 per cent of Canadians outside the province agree that Quebec is too accommodating.

It’s important to stress the timing of this poll. From Sept. 6-10, Angus Reid Global conducted a survey of 2,025 adults, about half from Quebec. Premier Pauline Marois’ government only formally announced how the charter would work—complete with those eye-popping illustrations of Muslim headscarfs, Sikh turbans and Jewish kippas that wouldn’t be allowed—on Sept. 10.

Reaction has been fierce. However, attention to the issue had been building for a few weeks before, after a late August leak of key elements of the charter. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made headlines by voicing his objections on Aug. 21 after meeting with Marois in Quebec City, making him the first federal leader to take a clear stand.

Since Sept. 10, Trudeau and other federal politicians have repeatedly expressed their expectation—or maybe it’s more a hope—that opposition inside Quebec will build as understanding of the charter grows. “I believe that what Ms. Marois is after is a controversy that will oppose the federal and provincial governments. But that’s not what we want,” Trudeau said last week, adding pointedly: “Quebecers themselves will oppose this charter and the federal government will not have to be the main spokesman in this debate.”

On Sunday, appearing on CTV’s Question Period, Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney painted a vivid picture of provincial officials “getting out a tape measure” to determine if religious symbols were too big, and went on to frame the backlash he anticipates: “I don’t think the majority of Quebecers will support that kind of overbearing application of the power of the state.”

The Angus Reid survey, conducted before the details were fully out—especially those much-discussed diagrams of permitted and banned religious garb—couldn’t capture the most up-to-date reaction. But it does offer some insight into the pre-existing public opinion climate. It’s too easy, one might think, for Canadians outside Quebec to be casually critical, when asked for a poll, about that province’s approach to minorities. But answers to questions about specific scenarios might be more telling.

For instance, Angus Reid asked about parents requesting a special menu for a child in daycare, and 64 per cent of respondents from Quebec said that would be unacceptable, while 52 per cent in the rest of Canada thought the request was acceptable. Or, asked about a situation in which students or workers request a room in which to practice their religion, 68 per cent in Quebec, but only 38 per cent in the rest of Canada, deemed that unacceptable.

Obviously, Marois and PQ strategists already understand the mindset of their target voters. “The inspiration for the PQ’s decision to retrench is purely electoralist,” as Paul Wells writes in his Maclean’s column this week. The question now is whether this story continues to emphasize reaction from outside Quebec or shifts, as Trudeau and Kenney are clearly hoping, to being much more about rejection of the charter concept inside the province.


Poll raises questions about Quebec values charter

  1. john stuart mill – The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

    • There are many roads to a well lived life.

  2. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/pq-charter-of-values-better-received-by-francophones-poll-shows/article14334035/

    Here’s the after the fact poll. Three things stand out for me: just how strategic [and amoral] the PQ have been. The numbers of immigrants within the civil service are low; the numbers of immigrants in Francophone QC are low. It’s all about playing to the base, appealing to the ignorant and essentially low risk to the PQ [they weren’t doing well in the cities anyway; demagoguery at it’s worst.

    The lone bright light in the Francophone numbers is that upwards of 35% do not favour the charter, even if they presumably sympathize – they don’t like the execution, or probably the timing…it goes too far The point is they aren’t onside. There is principle there to work with. Federal leaders and the RoC [ and the media] would do well not to turn this into a larger us versus them issue – particularly as a sizable minority of Canadians in general seem to have issues with how far reasonable accommodation should go.

    • But 2/3rds do, 65% approve so majority wins. Time minorities like Islam accept common law or move out. And me, I am offended that government allows an obvious symbol of repression of women to be worn in any governemtn,. This law should become nation wide. Am official separation of religion and government law.

      • That’s just the Francophone % Dave – read the whole article. In fact the majority now oppose the charter…still happy with the majority rules?

  3. The next stage will be an election call by the liberals and we can get rid of this paranoid woman who only seems to know how to create conflict.

  4. I have no problem with making room for minories, but I do have a problem with religion in governemtn and the pushing the cultural crap in my face while forcing me to pay for it. Governemtn needs to be neutral in presentation and behavior to ALL Canaidans and you can’t do it in cultural or religious garb.

    Fact is the pushy noisy Islam types need to do like other minorities, save the dress for cultural events and religious time. In governemtn, be it a Scottish Kilt and broad sword, or a Nazi/KKK t-shirt, African spears, or a repression of women hijab, they all should be banned.

    Islam needs to learn tolerance and stop advertising and pushing their religion on others. Like Sharia law, it needs to be banned. If they want the backwards stuff, move to a backwards country.

  5. The question no one is asking….. if these symbols are so important why do so many that practice these faiths not carry daggers (to pre-school), wear turbans, hijabs, kippas …..
    If anyone were to do ANY research at all they would find that these symbols do NOT exist as requirements in any religious doctrine and are more cultural than anything else.
    To those who come here….. when in Rome….. like the Italian, Greek, Polish, Irish …. immigrants that came here before you practice your religion amongst yourselves and leave the rest of your baggage and incessant accommodation demands at the door.

  6. How many times have I heard the term “Canadian” used as an insult by immigrants? I remember a time long gone, when people knew what their national anthem meant. “We stand on guard for thee, O Canada? More like we’re too fattened and lazy to stand on guard for thee.

  7. I’m from Qc and i agree that you may do as you see fit for your religion. however not if you are representing the public service. And besides any Country Provence or community you places this much importance on religion is clearly diluting themselves. This much upheaval for something that does not exist is really stupid. Let religion go and join the rest of the rational world, won’t you?

  8. A secular world is necessary to provide equal services to all people. Sectarian tokenism worn to exaggerate religious differences are evil and the people who wear and otherwise display such religious items and say this is part of freedoms are, in my mind, guilty of a form of hate crime that tries to separate them as vastly superior to all others.
    Are you a hate criminal?

  9. The area has long been too accommodating to outsiders; the First Nations
    indigenous peoples of this land were way too accommodating to the
    outsiders from France and England…

  10. I am confused. The latest Leger marketing poll had the PQ losing support and a loss of 16% in francophone voters to 49%. Putting the total for the charter at 43% and against 42%. This was released on the 15th.