Sunday, October 24, 2021

Canadians are deeply divided over Bill 96 in Quebec to amend constitution: poll

French-speaking Quebecers and the majority of Canadians are at odds with the Quebec government’s recent bill to amend the Canadian Constitution and reform the province’s language legislation, according to a new poll that reveals the depth of diversity in the country .

The poll (pdf) is a national survey on the launch of the Quebec government Bill 96, which proposes to amend Canada’s Constitution Act, which recognizes Quebec as a ‘nation’ and French as the only official language.

The results of the survey show that 62 percent of Quebecers believe that a province should be allowed to unilaterally amend the Canadian Constitution. By contrast, less than one-fifth of Quebec’s Canadian residents share the same mentality.

The survey was conducted by Léger Marketing for the Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) and the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS). A sample of 1,623 Canadians over the age of 18 was collected via a web panel from May 21 to May 23, 2021. A sample of this size would have an error margin of ± 2.95 percent, 19 times out of 20, reads the poll.

“Canadians and Quebecers are clearly divided on this issue and we need to take the time as a country and as a province to truly understand the implications of what the Quebec government is proposing,” QCGN president Marlene Jennings said in ‘ a press release said. (pdf).

‘This is a complex issue that not only needs to be studied and discussed by our politicians in Quebec City and Ottawa, but also discussed and understood by Canadians from coast to coast. Only through knowledge and dialogue can we gain a mutual understanding of what is really at stake, ‘Jennings said.

The views of the minority non-francophones also differ with the francophones in Quebec on the issue of amending the Constitution. Among Francophones, 37.9 percent are ‘fully in agreement’, while 35.5 percent are ‘somewhat in agreement’ that a province should be able to unilaterally amend the Canadian Constitution. As far as non-francophones are concerned, only 3.5 percent “completely agree” and 18.6 percent “somewhat agree” with this statement.

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On the issue of recognizing Quebec as a ‘nation’, a total of 67 percent of Quebecers agree with the idea, and only 15 percent of total Canadians agree somewhat. In the province, a total of 79.5 percent of francophones agree that Canada should recognize Quebec as a nation, while only 25.2 percent of non-francophones agree.

“Many Quebecers and other Canadians want to know legally what, if anything, such an amendment could mean for federal-provincial relations and minority language rights,” said ACP President Jack Jedwab.

Quebec Bill 96 also proposes the most comprehensive reforms in the French Language Charter, known as Bill 101, an important piece of legislation in Quebec’s French language policy.

More than half of all Canadians (54.5 percent) and about three-quarters of Quebecers (72 percent) agree that Quebec should sign the Constitution of Canada if the province is recognized as a nation and French as its official language. In Quebec, a significant proportion of francophones (77.9 percent) and a slim majority of non-francophones (54.5 percent) believe that Quebec should sign the Constitution under such an event.

As of 2021, the government of Quebec has not formally approved the 1982 Constitution.

Bill 96 introduced a series of policies to improve the French language in Quebec, including limiting the number of students admitted to CEGEPs in the English language – a college system unique to the province of Quebec. If the bill is passed, a proposed limit of 17.5 per cent of the total student population is allowed in English CEGEPs.

In a earlier poll conducted by Léger Marketing, more than half of the respondents were opposed to limiting the number of Quebec students who could attend CEGEPs in the English language. Again, French speakers have conflicting opinions with users of another language. The vast majority of Anglophones (88.1 percent) and more than two-thirds (69.8 percent) Allophones do not approve of this measure. More than half of francophones (57 percent) agree with this policy.

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