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This article was published 28/6/2012 (3168 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA -- Half of Canadians living outside Quebec don't care or even think it's a "big deal" if the province separates to form a new nation, according to a major new poll.
The countrywide survey on Canadian values commissioned by Postmedia News and Global TV reveals as Quebecers prepare to go to the polls in a possible late-summer election, the national landscape has changed dramatically.
Whereas Canadians once watched closely to see if the Parti Québécois -- which advocates separatism -- would emerge as the winner, the trend outside the province now is people don't care.
"Over the years, it's just one of those things where you get threatened so many times," Ipsos Reid president Darrell Bricker said in an interview Thursday. "I think people have sort of walked away from this debate and the country has moved in a new direction."
The poll found high levels of support for bilingualism (61 per cent) and the idea it should be mandatory for any senior official in the federal government to be fluent in both English and French (59 per cent).
However, Bricker said the survey makes clear Canadians no longer feel threatened by the thought of Quebec leaving the federation.
The poll found 49 per cent of Canadians living outside of Quebec agree (26 per cent strongly and 23 per cent somewhat) they "don't really care if Quebec separates from Canada."
Similarly, half (49 per cent) of Canadians outside of Quebec agree if Quebec separates, "it's not really a big deal" to them personally.
Albertans (56 per cent) are the most likely to say separation is no big deal, followed by British Columbians (51 per cent) and Ontarians (50 per cent).
Not surprisingly, Quebecers themselves do think it's important: An overwhelming 92 per cent said it's a big deal. But that doesn't necessarily mean support for separatism is strong.
In fact, the pollster said there doesn't appear to be a groundswell of support for sovereignty within Quebec. While 20 per cent of Quebecers don't know where they stand on the issue, among those who have their mind made up, just about four in 10 (38 per cent) would vote "yes," in favour of sovereignty, while six in 10 (62 per cent) would vote "no."
Those findings within Quebec are similar to the 1980 referendum in which the federalists led by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau staved off a bid for separatism led by then-premier René Lévesque.
However, they are much different from the razor-thin margin that occurred in the 1995 Quebec referendum, where separatists won 49.4 per cent of the vote -- falling just short of the bare majority they needed.
That referendum occurred just days after 100,000 Canadians flooded the streets of Montreal for a "Unity Rally" to convince Quebecers they were loved and had a place within Canada.
Would such an outpouring of emotion occur now if the Parti Québécois led by Pauline Marois were to win power and ultimately -- despite lukewarm support for the cause -- hold another referendum on sovereignty?
Bricker isn't so sure.
"It's going to be harder to do this time because the rest of the country thinks the country is actually a pretty darn good place. And they're not as afraid of Quebec separating and they're not as concerned if they do.
"People are not invested in that old Toronto-versus-Montreal debate about what the future of Canada is going to be. The rest of the country is growing much faster."
-- Postmedia News