Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Quebec question, again…

Today Sun Media is reporting the results of a recent Leger Marketing poll conducted on behalf of The Association of Canadian Studies.

According to the reports, the poll found that “A surprising 26% of Albertans and 15% of English Canadians believe Quebec would be better off if it were to separate” As would be expected the results varied widely by province with a high of 39.9% in Quebec supportive and a low of 5.3% in New Brunswick.

According to the reporter, Elizabeth Thompson, the exact question that was asked was whether respondents strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed with the following statement: "Quebec would be better off if it were not part of Canada."

“Better off” how? Economically? Culturally? The poll doesn’t differentiate. I expect most Canadians feel that Quebec is better off economically within Canada if for no other reason that the equalization payments flooding in their direction. Would Quebec be better off fiscally without those? Unlikely. But culturally I don’t think there’s much question that Quebec would certainly be no worse off as a separate entity. They would still have complete control over their culture and language but would no longer have to answer embarrassing questions about English language rights within their borders or cultural and social initiatives that don’t fit within the broader Canadian multicultural framework.

But if the pollsters were really trying to get a sense of what Canadians think about Quebec staying in Canada they asked the wrong question. To get Canadians to tell you how they feel about Quebec as part of Canada, the question should be whether respondents strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statements:

- "Canada would be better off economically with a separate Quebec"

- “Canada would be better off politically with a separate Quebec", and

- "Canada would be better off culturally with a separate Quebec".

Now those results would be interesting. Any takers?


Anonymous said...

The OECD says Quebec would have external debt of $250 billion. How would Duceppe manage that?

I live in Montreal and would be on my way because taxes of 70% don't quite appeal to me.

Anonymous said...

To me this is beginning to sound a lot like Canadian navel gazing.

Having been raised in the US, it would be akin to having a survey that ask Americans if Texas would be better off as a separate country. I'll be you could drum up support for the hypothetical to 15, 20, maybe even 30%.

But no one would even ask the question. Texas isn't going to separate, no matter what the ramblings of their current governor. Neither is Alabama, or New Hampshire.

I do understand that the Quebec situation is different, and there exists more recent history and an entire political party premised (at least loosely) on Quebec independence.

My point is you can pretty much get 20% of the population to agree to anything in a hypothetical poll. And these results are starting to get into that margin. So why is it considered news?