Canadians Disagree with Court on Interrogations Without Legal Counsel

Many Canadians believe the Supreme Court made the right decisions on two recent cases, but question a ruling related to the legal rights of suspects who are being interrogated, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,014 Canadian adults, 76 per cent of respondents agree with the decision taken by the Supreme Court on the case of Shirley Christensen.

The Supreme Court ruled last month that Christensen—a Quebec woman who was sexually abused as a child at the hands of a priest—can launch a lawsuit against the Catholic Church.

Two-thirds of Canadians (65%) agree with a recent decision that looked into the issue of journalistic sources. The Supreme Court ruled that journalists have a qualified right to protect their confidential sources, if such protection outweighs the public interest in the disclosure that the law would normally require.

The case stemmed from an investigative report into the federal sponsorship scandal, in which Globe and Mail reporter Daniel Leblanc relied on a confidential source, identified only as “MaChouette.”

On a third case, the Supreme Court does not get the endorsement of most Canadians. More than half of respondents (54%) disagree with the ruling which states that suspects do not have a right to legal counsel while they are being interrogated.

Last month’s 5-4 decision effectively signifies that, if suspects reveals information to officers or detectives during an interrogation, this information may be admitted into evidence in a legal process against them.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From October 29 to October 30, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,014 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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