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Demonstrator Meriem Ghanem affixes a Canadian flag to her sign at the start of a protest against Quebec’s proposed secular charter in downtown Montreal on Sept. 29, 2013. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Demonstrator Meriem Ghanem affixes a Canadian flag to her sign at the start of a protest against Quebec’s proposed secular charter in downtown Montreal on Sept. 29, 2013. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Most Canadians oppose firings based on Quebec’s secular charter: poll Add to ...

Nearly three out of four Canadians oppose the idea that government employees should be fired as a result of Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The CTV-Ipsos Reid poll, surveying more than 1,000 people online across the country, found that 72 per cent of Canadians disagreed that “public servants like teachers, health-care workers and others should be fired from their jobs if they insist on wearing religious symbols and clothing at work,” and 28 per cent were in agreement.

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Support was highest in Quebec, where the proposed ban would be in effect, with 38 per cent agreeing workers should be fired. Still, 62 per cent disagreed.

“I think it’s a question that the [Parti Québécois] hasn’t fully laid out for anybody,” John Wright, senior vice-president at Ipsos Reid, said. “What is the consequence of a public servant defying the charter?”

He said Quebec’s governing party should clarify whether workers who breach the charter rules would be fired, fined, ticketed or charged with an offence.

“It kind of puts it in perspective that the Charter of Values has been a conceptual debate,” Mr. Wright said. “But the rubber has to hit the road at some point.”

Outside of Quebec, support for firing employees remained the same – at about 28 per cent – in all provinces except British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, where only 22 per cent and 16 per cent agreed, respectively.

Foreign-born Canadians were more likely to agree that public servants should lose their jobs for wearing religious symbols. About 35 per cent agreed, seven points higher than the national average.

A larger percentage of men also agreed that public-sector workers should be let go for defying the charter. While only 22 per cent of women agreed, the number was at 35 per cent for men.

The online survey has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points nationally. The credibility interval for Quebec is 6.0.

Mr. Wright said the poll results show that, though it may be favoured by some in theory, the Charter of Values has little support when it comes down to actual consequences.

“You don’t even really have a strong conviction among those in Quebec that this should be the case,” he said, pointing out that among supporters in Quebec, only 13 per cent were “strongly” in favour of firing. “I think that it’s a soft agreement.”

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