March 31, 2017 Print

Canadians are enthusiastic about amending the country’s Constitution, reports Calgary-based Atlas Network partner the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), with strong support for such revisions as adding property rights protections, which garnered 92 percent agreement, and abolishing the Senate. CCF commissioned the poll to gauge Canadian attitudes toward the Constitution to mark the 150th anniversary of the country’s first Constitution in 1867.

“While there are significant political barriers to amending our Constitution, one of them is not a lack of desire by Canadians,” explains Howard Anglin, CCF’s executive director. “Majorities in all provinces support abolishing the Senate, ending the constitutional exception for affirmative action programs, giving some constitutional rights to the unborn, and every other proposed change we put to them. It seems it’s easier to get a majority of Canadians to agree to amending our Constitution than it is to get ten Premiers to do so!”

CCF reports that 92 percent of respondents “would support an amendment to add the protection of property rights to the Charter,” 82 percent “would support an amendment requiring new Canadians to uncover their faces when taking the Oath of Citizenship,” 70 percent “support term-limiting the Prime Minister to 8 years, as for a U.S. President,” 69 percent “would support an amendment ending protection for affirmative action programs,” and 64 percent would support an amendment abolishing the Senate,” among the poll’s many results.

“While most Canadians do not know exactly what is in our Constitution, they have strong views on what should be in it,” Anglin continues. “In: property rights, term-limits for Prime Ministers; out: hate speech, praising terrorism, face-covering at citizenship ceremonies, affirmative action, the Senate, and whether Charter rights for people sneaking into our country.”

The poll, which included 1,003 Canadians contacted by Ipsos News and Polls over a few days in March, also revealed that knowledge of the Constitution is increasing with the current generation, although constitutional education could be much stronger.

“The advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms marked a sea change in Canadians’ relationship with our Constitution,” Anglin concludes. “Canadians who graduated from high school after 1982 are both more likely to remember being taught about the Constitution and more likely to be able to correctly answer questions about what is in it. Overall, however, relatively low knowledge of what our Constitution says shows that there is significant need to improve teaching about our rights as Canadians.”

CCF has designated March 29 as Canada’s “Constitution Day,” marking the day that the Constitution Acts of both 1867 and 1982 were passed.