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Western Canadians believe Charter is for individual rights not group minority rights
  Jan 28, 2005

A general mistrust of the federal government, and anger with Ontario and Quebec has created a political climate in BC and Alberta where separatist parties like the Western Canada Concept may emerge into the consciousness of the mainstream if the larger provinces continue to frustrate the west. It remains to be seen if gay marriage incites this further or not.
A random digit dialing telephone survey of 1,240 respondents throughout British Columbia and Alberta between January 10th and 23th, 2005. This survey has a margin of error of 2.75%, 18 times out of 20, and competency of 96%.

Question #1
Which of the following elements of “that which defines Canada” is in your opinion the most important one?
Ensuring that each and every Canadian enjoys equality of rights and freedoms-    34 %
ensuring that every Canadian has equal opportunity to a satisfactory and secure life    11 %
ensuring that Canadian institutions such as health, national security and marriage remain in place-    55 %
Question #2
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? I believe it is more important to feed the poor and house the homeless than it is to secure the Charter rights of gay men and women to legally marry?
Agree    49 %
Disagree    36 %
Undecided/Won't Answer    15 %
Question #3
Of the following two choices which is more important to you?
Dedication to my province    60 %
dedication to my country    32 %
Undecided    08 %
Question #4
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Allowing gay men and women to marry will seriously undermine Canadian families?
Agree    55 %
Disagree    41 %
Undecided    04 %
Question #5
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an expression of personal individual freedom for each Canadian, and should not be used to create an advantage for minority groups over the charter rights of individual Canadians?
Agree    76 %
Disagree    24 %
Question #6
Do you agree or disagree with this statement? In a democratic society the rights of the majority should overrule the rights of the minority?
Agree    67 %
Disagree    33 %
Question #7
(Readers)This is a two-part question: (7a) In your opinion does western Canada receive fair treatment from Ottawa?
Yes    32 %
No    68 %
Question #8
*only for those who answered “NO” in question 7a: In your opinion would ‘the west’ be better off if it were to separate from Canada?
Yes    26 %
No    72 %
Question #9
-If an election were held today for which political party would you cast your vote?
Conservative Party of Canada    44 %
New Democratic Party of Canada    26 %
Liberal Party of Canada    27 %
Commentary
Canadian respondents in this survey are more ‘conservative’ about keeping institutions such as health, national security and marriage, than they are liberal about rights and freedoms.
Feeding the poor and housing the homeless is more important to the majority of respondents in all parties than is legalizing gay marriage.
Dedication to province is higher amongst respondents than dedication to country. Respondents in Alberta are more ‘nationalistic’ than those in British Columbia.
Only a slight majority of respondents are of the opinion that allowing gays men and women “will seriously undermine Canadian families.” British Columbia is more split on this question.
Respondents in an obvious majority view the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a document that supports individual freedom more than group rights.
The democratic right to vote is seen to be more important than the rights of the minority by 2 to 1. This ratio is more acute in Alberta than British Columbia.
A significant minority of ‘westerners’ in Alberta and B.C. are of the opinion that “they would be better off” to separate from Canada. Nearly fourty per cent of respondents who possess BC-Alberta separatist inclinations are also of the opinion that “western Canada does not receive fair treatment from Ottawa”.
Nearly one-half of respondents who selected one of the three major parties as who ‘they would vote for’ choose The Conservative Party of Canada, while the other half is split over the Federal Liberal Party or the New Democratic Party of Canada.
In this survey of western Canadians in the provinces of BC and Alberta respondents are clear that the rights of the majority should supercede the rights of the minority. This is contemplated most specifically through respondents’ concept of the right to vote and the right to individual and personal freedoms.
As was the case prior to the entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 (79), most western Canadians believe that they have individual freedoms. The majority of respondents in this survey are wary of personal freedoms being lost as more Charter Rights are provided to “groups”. The clear distinction being made as this relates to gay marriage is that the ‘gay lobby’ for legal marriage in Canada is perceived somewhat as a ‘group lobby’, and not a pursuit of equal individual rights. Gays are seldom portrayed in the individual context, but rather seen in large groups protesting. Their demand for legal marriage when a decade ago they were pleading for help with drugs for AIDS has some respondents more than just a little confused.
Prime Minister Paul Martin was introduced to most Canadians, including those in this survey as a fiscal conservative and social liberal. With respect to the latter this would relate more conspicuously on the social side to matters of a women’s right to choose etc. This political identity provided for a significant ‘political tent’ from which to secure support.
Legal gay marriage is an issue that has not ingratiated the Prime Minister with a number of voter demographics from which he otherwise might have had support. Most notably among these are men, charter liberals suspicious that ‘gay rights (group rights) may water down individual rights, and ‘structural conservatives’ from all parties who are slow to change on longstanding institutions which such as health, national security and marriage.
A general mistrust of the federal government, and anger with Ontario and Quebec has created a political climate in BC and Alberta where separatist parties like the Western Canada Concept may emerge into the consciousness of the mainstream if the larger provinces continue to frustrate the west. It remains to be seen if gay marriage incites this further or not.

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