Poll asks if Canadians feel 'attached' to monarchy – and few do

·3 min read

Atlantic Canadians and Quebecers are less "attached" to the monarchy than other Canadians, a recent poll suggests.

Leger asked Canadians, “Would you say that you are personally attached to the British monarchy?”

Only six per cent of respondents in Atlantic Canada and Quebec responded, “Yes I feel attached to the British monarchy.” In other provinces, such as British Columbia, attachment was as high as 29 per cent. Eighty-three percent of Atlantic Canadians polled said they did not feel attached and 11 per cent said they did not know how they felt or preferred not to answer.

The online survey by Leger was conducted Jan. 29 to 31 among Quebecers and Feb. 5 to 7 among other Canadians.

Canada’s former governor general Julie Payette resigned on Jan. 21 following reports of workplace harassment, thrusting the role of the monarchy and the Governor General into the public spotlight.

Barry MacKenzie, Atlantic regional spokesperson for the Monarchist League of Canada, an organization with branches across the country which host events and provide educational opportunities about the role of the monarchy in Canada, said this “figure is much lower than is typically the case.”

“Typically Atlantic Canadians show much higher levels of support [for the Monarchy],” he said.

In November 2012, a Leger survey commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies had 43 per cent of Atlantic Canadians stating the monarchy was an important “source of personal or collective pride in Canada”.

MacKenzie also pointed to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted almost exactly one year ago. The Queen received broad support in that poll, with an approval rating of 84 per cent by Atlantic Canadians. The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted between Jan. 24 and 27, 2020, and was commissioned by Global News. The sample size was 1,000 Canadians over 18, using online interviews. The poll's results are accurate to plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The questions, posed by two different polling firms a year apart, are not identical.

In the latest Leger poll, 44 per cent of Atlantic Canadian respondents believed we should abolish the monarchy in Canada, 29 per cent thought it should be maintained and a high 30 per cent indicated they did not know or preferred not to answer.

Canada has seen some pretty dramatic fluctuations in numbers when asked various questions related to the monarchy, said MacKenzie.

A Royal wedding or a tour from the royals can shift numbers significantly, he said.

In the midst of the current Governor General scandal, “we are hearing people use the phrase, ‘it’s time to cut out time with the British monarchy,” he said.

But he believes if there was a capable and agreeable person as the next Governor General, numbers would shift more favourably for the monarchy.

“I don’t fear for the future of the institution,” he said.

But, organizations like the Monarchist League believe education about the role of the Governor General and monarchy more broadly is important. They provide an important apolitical head that works in the Canadian context, he said. The Governor General and lieutenant-governors provide Royal assent on behalf of the monarch to turn legislative acts into laws, as well as other roles in Parliament. To abolish the monarchy would necessitate significant changes to how legislatures work.

The Leger poll involved 1,000 Quebecers in group 1 and 1,122 Canadians from other provinces in group 2. It was commissioned by Le Journal de Montréal. It is not possible to calculate a margin of error on a sample drawn from a panel, but for comparison purposes, the total sample size if it were random would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points,19 times out of 20. The Times & Transcript also independently estimated the theoretical margin of error for the Atlantic Canada sample size – 100 respondents in total – as plus or minus 10 percentage points at the 95 per cent confidence level.

- The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal