Canadians Would Feel Dissatisfied, Sad if Quebec Became Independent

Few Canadians are ready to see Quebec as a separate country, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative sample of 1,011 Canadian adults also shows that respondents who live outside Quebec would like to see their provincial governments supporting Quebec’s continuation in Canada.

Across the country, one-in-four respondents (24%) agree with Quebec becoming a country separate from Canada. The highest level of support for this notion is observed in Quebec (42%, still seven points below the 49% who disagree), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (25%) and Alberta (24%).

Three-in-five Canadians (61%) believe Quebec has enough sovereignty and should remain part of Canada, a view shared by sizeable majorities in most regions.

In Quebec, 33 per cent of respondents believe Quebec needs greater sovereignty but should still remain part of Canada, while one-in-four (26%) believe Quebec should be a separate, independent country.

The Clarity Act, passed by Parliament in 2000, establishes the conditions under which the Government of Canada would enter into negotiations that might lead to the secession of a province following a referendum. Among these conditions are that the referendum question is clear, and that there are no irregularities in the balloting, counting of votes and spending limits from contending sides.

The Clarity Act also gives the House of Commons the power to determine whether “a clear majority” of a province’s population has expressed a will to cease to be a part of Canada.

Respondents were asked whether four specific thresholds would be considered “acceptable” for a province to separate. More than half of Canadians (55%) would allow separation if this is the will expressed by a two-thirds majority of all residents. Two-in-five respondents (43%) would consent to separation if two-thirds of voters who take part in a referendum express the will to cease to be a part of Canada.

Only 18 per cent of respondents believe a province should be allowed to separate from Canada with a simple majority of either residents or voters in a referendum. In Quebec, these thresholds are endorsed by 35 per cent and 32 per cent of respondents respectively.

More than half of Canadians who live outside Quebec (57%) believe that, if the discussions about Quebec becoming an independent country intensify in the next few months, their provincial governments should support Quebec’s continuation in Canada. Three-in-ten (29%) would prefer to take no sides, while eight per cent would prefer to back Quebec’s desire to become independent.

One-in-four Canadians (24%) would feel “happy” or “satisfied” if Quebec became an independent country, including 45 per cent of Quebecers and 22 per cent of Albertans. Conversely, 62 per cent of Canadians would feel “dissatisfied” or “sad” if Quebec became independent, including 42 per cent of Quebecers and 68 per cent of Albertans.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From January 31 to February 1, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,011 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. 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.