This report is the third in a series that presents the results of the Confederation of Tomorrow 2020 survey of Canadians, a national public opinion study that gives voice to Canadians on the future of the federation. The third report explores issues relating to identity, values and language and is published in three separate parts. The first two parts are available below, with the third part on language coming soon.

For full project details, go to Environics Institute

Part I: Identity

Canada is a country in which citizens typically express a mix of identities. Three in four, for instance, define themselves as both Canadian and as someone from their province or territory, compared to about one in four who define themselves exclusively as either a Canadian only or someone from their province only. The relative strength of these different identities varies across the country. Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, are the only two provinces where residents are more likely to identify with their province (only or first) than with Canada (only or first). Ontario is the only province where a majority of residents define themselves as a Canadian only or first.

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Part II: Values, Religion and the State

Regional tensions in Canada are often driven by conflicting economic interests, but may also be the product of differences in values. In recent years, attention has been drawn to potential value differences over religion and its place in public life. Francophone Quebecers are assumed to be more secular than other Canadians, and more adamant about the strict separation of church and state. This secularism (or laïcité) underpins public support for Quebec’s Bill 21, a law adopted in 2019 that prohibits certain public officials from wearing religious symbols in the exercise of their official duties. The law was a frequent topic of discussion in the October 2019 federal election, as party leaders were pressured to pronounce on whether they would support efforts to challenge the province’s law in court.

Against this background, this third report from the Confederation of Tomorrow 2020 survey of Canadians explores the extent of value differences across the regions of Canada, particularly as they relate to religion and the question of how the state, in a secular society, should exercise its religious neutrality. It also examines whether recent debates about how to balance majority rule and minority rights in a democratic society have affected Canadians’ attitudes toward the relationship between governments and the courts.

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Part III: Language

Previous surveys have confirmed that language is an important part of most Canadians’ personal sense of identity; that majorities in Canada support the policy of official bilingualism and believe it’s important that their children learn to speak a second language; and that most Quebec francophones believe that the French language in Quebec is threatened.

The 2020 Confederation of Tomorrow survey revisits the question of whether the French language is threatened, but with two important variations. First, all Canadians – and not just those in Quebec – are asked about whether the French language in Quebec is threatened. Second, all Canadians are asked the same question about the French language outside of Quebec.

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The Confederation of Tomorrow 2020 Survey of Canadians was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research, in partnership with four leading public policy organizations across the country: the Canada West Foundation, theCentre D’Analyse Politique Constitution Fédéralisme, the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government at StFX University.  The study consists of a national public opinion survey of 5,152 Canadians (aged 18 and over) conducted online (in the provinces) and by telephone (in the territories) between January 13 and February 20, 2020.

Previous Confederation of Tomorrow 2020 reports:

Report 1: Regional Perspectives on the Economy and Climate Change

Report 2: The Division of Powers and Resources