Most Quebecers support Charter of 'Quebec Values' but don't expect it to solve problems
A survey of Quebecers shows the majority support the idea of a Charter of Quebec Values, but do not think it will actually solve any problems in the province.
Leger Marketing conducted the poll on Friday and Saturday, several days after details of a new secular values law were reported in one of the most widely-read newspapers in the province.
According to the poll 57 percent of Quebecers think the proposed Charter of Quebec values is a good idea that will protect the values of Quebecers, however 48 percent think it will create more bickering and disagreements, while only 28 percent think a new law will solve the problem of religious accommodation.
Many of the polling results showed a stark difference between francophones and those of other ethnic groups, with 65 percent of francophones thinking the Charter would be a good idea, while 62 percent of anglophones and 51 percent of allophones disagreed.
Similarly, just 27 percent of francophones thought the law, which would ban the wearing of religious symbols by many members of the public, would limit individual freedoms. 61 percent of anglophones said that was a limitation on freedom.
65 percent of francophones said the Charter would protect Quebec Values; only 19 percent of anglophones and 39 percent of allophones agreed.
The only question where everyone was in agreement was whether a new law would "end the problems of religious accommodation." 32 percent of francophones, with 14 percent of allophones and 8 percent of anglophones thought it would ease problems.
The poll showed that most Quebecers thought it acceptable to ban the wearing of all religious symbols, including veils, kippas, or crosses, by government employes including police officers, teachers, civil servants and doctors.
The poll asked by individual job, and a high of 78 percent thought it acceptable to ban police officers from wearing religious icons, with a low of 63 percent for daycare teachers.
Support for a ban on icons was lowest in the Montreal area, while it was highest in rural Quebec and the Quebec City region.
Charter of Quebec Values has CAQ support
On Monday Francois Legault, leader of the Coalition Avenir Quebec, said he was in favour of parts of the proposed legislation.
He said the PQ approach was too extreme, and he was not a supporter of hiding all religious symbols, however he said it was crucial to prevent those in authority, especially if paid by the government, from wearing religious icons.
Legault said the CAQ might propose its own changes to the Quebec's Charter of Rights to make equality between the sexes superior to all other rights.
He also said that while religious icons should not be worn by police officers, prison guards or teachers, he saw no problems with doctors, nurses or daycare workers wearing veils, scarves or kippas.
"I think we have no choice. We've seen in the last five years examples of accommodations that should not have been given," said Legault.
"Why is that? Because the Liberal party did not have the courage of giving some guidelines and that is what we need to do as soon as possible."
Legault suggested that the Charter of Quebec Values, as proposed by the PQ, would likely violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and so would require the use of the notwithstanding clause.
Premier Marois said Monday that she was pleased by Legault's position.
"I'm happy Mr. Legault is ready to discuss and debate this," the PQ premier said Monday. She was asked about the subject during a news conference where she offered details about a $60 million reconstruction fund for the devastated town of Lac-Megantic.
"I hope we have a serene, harmonious debate so that we can collectively draw some conclusions that allow us to live better together. That's what we want."
Federal NDP opposed
Speaking in Ottawa, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said his party opposed the idea of limiting freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
"I don't want to see scapegoating, particularly of Muslim women," said Mulcair.
He also agreed that any proposal to ban the wearing of religious symbols was likely to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and he said he would do what he could to convince politicians in Quebec to change their minds.
"We're not going to allow something that goes against the Charter."
The internet-only Leger poll surveyed 1,000 people aged 18 and over on August 23 and 25. It was commissioned by QMI Agency.
The margin of error is 3.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. The range of error for regional or ethnicity-based answers is larger.
-With a file from The Canadian Press