A majority of Canadians are rejecting Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois’ claims that an independent Quebec would continue to use the Canadian dollar and passports, according to a new CTV/Ipsos Reid poll.

However, the poll found the opposite in Quebec, where most residents thought a sovereign Quebec would still use the loonie, Canadian passports and maintain open borders with Canada.

To the statement that “an independent Quebec would continue to use the Canadian dollar as its currency”:

  • 73 per cent of Quebecers said they “agree” (40 per cent “strongly”/ 33 per cent “somewhat”);
  • 37 per cent of Canadians in the rest of Canada said they “agree” (15 per cent “strongly,” 22 per cent “somewhat”).

To the statement that “Quebec citizens could continue to use Canadian passports”:

  • 56 per cent of Quebecers “agree” (30 per cent “strongly,” 26 per cent “somewhat”);
  • 22 per cent in the rest of Canada “agree” (eight per cent “strongly,” 14 per cent “somewhat”).

To the statement that “with an independent Quebec, the Canadian Federal government has no need to set up border crossings to enter Canadian territory”:

  • 69 per cent of Quebecers “agree” (38 per cent “strongly,” 31 per cent “somewhat”);
  • 42 per cent in the rest of Canada “agree” (17 per cent “strongly,” 25 per cent “somewhat”).

Quebecers’ opinions also diverge from those in the rest of Canada on the question of whether Canada should maintain economic ties with an independent Quebec.

Sixty-nine per cent of Quebecers said that “the rest of Canada should negotiate a continuation of some political and economic ties to a separate Quebec,” if a “clear majority” of Quebecers vote for separation in a referendum. However, 31 per cent of Quebecers says Canada “should only negotiate an outright breakup.”

Fifty-six per cent of voters in the rest of Canada say only an outright breakup should be negotiated, while 44 per cent say the two sides should retain some political and economic ties.

The question on which there is greater unity between Quebec and the rest of Canada is what constitutes a “clear majority.” The Clarity Act stipulates that if a “clear majority” votes for sovereignty in a referendum, then Canada must negotiate the terms of separation with Quebec.

In all, 63 per cent of Quebecers said a “clear majority” means a minimum of 60 per cent support for sovereignty, compared to 80 per cent of respondents in the rest of Canada.

National unity

With star Parti Quebecois candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau announcing that he has entered politics because he wants Quebec to become country, talk of a referendum has taken over the Quebec election campaign.

Only 19 per cent of respondents said they believe “Canada is in serious trouble as far as national unity is concerned, to the point that the future of the country is threatened.” About 50 per cent said “national unity has become weaker recently but it can be strengthened,” and 31 per cent said “Canada is as strong today as it ever was.”

Broken down by region, the percentage of respondents that believes Canada’s national unity is threatened is:

  • 36 per cent of Quebecers
  • 21 per cent in Atlantic Canada
  • 15 per cent in Alberta
  • 14 per cent in British Columbia
  • 12 per cent in Ontario
  • 8 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Meanwhile, 87 per cent of Canadians “agree” (57 per cent “strongly,” 30 per cent “somewhat”) that they “feel profoundly attached to Canada,” while 13 per cent “disagrees.” While Quebecers are less inclined to agree, some 68 per cent still said they feel profoundly attached to Canada.

Referendum talk

Marois has been unclear about whether she would hold a referendum should the PQ win a majority mandate, but that doesn’t appear to have reassure voters. Of a potential referendum, 26 per cent of Canadians said they are “very concerned because it’s a real possibility and it could ruin Canada.” Another 38 per cent said they are “not very concerned because whatever referendum is held the people of Quebec will vote to stay within the union of Canada.”

Another 36 per cent said they “really couldn’t care less -- if Quebec wants out, let them go and the rest of Canada will do very well without them.”

Broken down by region, Quebecers were most concerned that a referendum is “a real possibility” (35 per cent), followed by Atlantic Canada (30 per cent), Ontario (27 per cent), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (25 per cent), British Columbia (17 per cent) and Alberta (13 per cent).

Residents in the West were most likely to say they “couldn’t care less” if Quebec wants to leave Canada: 47 per cent in Alberta, 46 per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and 45 per cent in British Columbia. Only 34 per cent in Atlantic Canada held this view, as did 33 per cent in Ontario.

In the end, the poll found that 61 per cent said they “disagree” (33 per cent “strongly,” 28 per cent “somewhat”) that “it is getting to the point where it would be better in the long run if Quebec were to separate from the rest of Canada,” compared to 39 per cent of Canadians who “agree” (17 per cent “strongly,” 21 per cent “somewhat”).

Voters in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (53 per cent) and Alberta (52 per cent) were most likely to agree, while those in British Columbia (45 per cent), Quebec (35 per cent), Ontario (34 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (33 per cent) were least likely to agree. Only 35 per cent of Quebecers believe this.

The poll was conducted between Mar. 14 and 19 and includes a sample of 1,032 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The results are considered accurate within +/- 3.5 percentage points.