A majority of Canadians outside Quebec think the country would fare just as well or better without the francophone province, while almost three-quarters feel the province will never be satisfied with whatever concessions the federal government may make. These are the findings of a new poll which indicates Canadians have little sympathy for Quebec.
Léger Marketing conducted this survey for the QMI Agency between February 28 and March 5, polling 2,509 Canadians.
Though 80 per cent of Canadians feel that everything should be done to ensure everyone has a sense of belonging to Canada, 75 per cent say they have grown tired of the national unity debate.
But they also think the waters between Ottawa and Quebec City have calmed. Fully two-thirds of Canadians outside the province think relations have improved or stayed the same between the two governments. This is in sharp contrast to the 54 per cent of Quebecers who feel they have worsened.
A plurality of citizens in the rest of the country would rather not bother. Though 39 per cent see Quebec as an asset, 43 per cent think it is a burden for Canada. That proportion increases to 57 per cent in Alberta.
More than any other province or region, Quebec is identified as the part of the country that gets more than its fair share from confederation by Canadians living outside Quebec (36 per cent). Quebecers, on the other hand, identified the West as the most spoiled region (37 per cent).
However, Canadians do identify Quebec as being different from the rest of the country. A slim majority said so outside of the province, while 82 per cent of Quebecers agreed they are different. But 72 per cent of Canadians outside of Quebec said the province will always be dissatisfied, no matter what concessions the federal government may make.
This is perhaps the reason why 21 per cent of non-Quebece Canadians feel Canada would be better off without the province, while 40 per cent say the country would fare just as well. Fully 73 per cent think Quebec would be worse off on its own, compared to only 43 per cent of Quebecers who think the same thing.
Despite a majority feeling Canada would not suffer without Quebec, only 16 per cent of Canadians in the rest of the country want Quebec to become a separate country. Three-quarters of respondents want Quebec to remain Canadian, compared to 45 per cent of Quebecers who support independence.
But little more than one in 10 Canadians outside Quebec believe the province will achieve that independence, compared to one-third of Quebecers. But, if Quebec did vote in favour of sovereignty and demanded recognition by the United Nations as an independent country, 41 per cent of Canadians would want the federal government to block the request. Only 36 per cent would accept the demand. This is in sharp contrast to the 70 per cent of Quebecers (which includes both sovereigntists and federalists) who would want Canada to recognize this hypothetical referendum’s result. Only 16 per cent of Quebecers hope the federal government would try to prevent the province gaining independence.
The relationship that exists between Quebecers and Canadians in the rest of the country continues to be a complicated one. The likelihood national unity will become a hot topic in Canada in the near future appears remote, but the gap separating the two solitudes appears as wide as ever.
Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.