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Poll shows continuing divide between views in Quebec, rest of Canada

Separatists are distributing a new poll that shows the diametrically opposed feelings in Quebec and the rest of Canada toward constitutional change.

Conducted on behalf of the Bloc Québécois two decades after the 1990 death of the Meech Lake accord, the poll confirms the continuing appetite for constitutional change in Quebec - and a deep revulsion to it in the nine other provinces.

The Bloc is hoping that the results will lead Quebeckers to a simple conclusion: The only avenue for political reform in Quebec is a third referendum on sovereignty.

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"There are two national solitudes, with one of them, the Canadian nation, holding the broad end of the stick," Bloc Québécois MP Pierre Paquette told reporters. "The choice for Quebeckers is to either stay in Canada and be marginalized as a nation, or to choose the avenue that we offer, which is Quebec sovereignty."

The poll showed that 73 per cent of Quebeckers would like to see the recognition of Quebec as a nation in the Canadian Constitution, while only 17 per cent of respondents in the rest of Canada agree.

There are twice as many Quebeckers (82 per cent) as people in other provinces (39 per cent) who favour a new round of constitutional negotiations designed to get Quebec's signature on the Constitution.

In addition, 90 per cent of Quebeckers feel that the province's language law should be enforced in federal institutions in the province, against only 26 per cent in the rest of Canada.

Martin Papillon, a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, said the poll does not reflect a new trend, but it helps the Bloc make the case for maintaining a presence in Ottawa after almost 20 years of existence.

"The Bloc is not trying to reform the Constitution, but they are making the demonstration that the file will not be reopened," he said.

The poll will be presented at a meeting in Montreal on Saturday organized by the Bloc and a group called Intellectuals For Sovereignty, under the theme "20 years after Meech: What future for Quebec inside Canada?"

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The survey was conducted by the Bloc's internal pollster, repère communication recherche, based on 1,001 interviews in Quebec and 1,007 in the rest of Canada.

The margin of error is three percentage points.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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