March 29 – Constitution Day in Canada

On March 29, the Constitution Act, 1867 and the Constitution Act, 1982 received Royal Assent.  To celebrate the creation of Canada’s founding documents, the Canadian Constitutional  Foundation has released a new website to commemorate the day and inform Canadians about the constitution.

As part of the release of the website, the CCF commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a national survey of Canadians that measured people’s knowledge about the Constitution.  The results were quite interesting: most Canadians knew very little about the constitution and assumed much about their rights they believed were enumerated within it.

Here’s a sampling from the CCF Press Release:

  • Barely half of Canadians surveyed (53%) knew that Canada’s original constitution came into force on July 1, 1867.
  • Only 28% of Canadians were correctly able to identify the four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) that initially formed the Dominion of Canada in 1867.
  • 61% of Canadians did not know that the Constitution Act, 1867 listed the distribution of powers between the federal and provincial levels of government.
  • Only 9% of Canadians surveyed knew that the Charter does not include protection for private property.
  • Only 7% of Canadians surveyed knew that the Charter only applies to governments and not to private individuals, businesses, or other organizations.

The survey also reveals Canadians attitudes about various amendments to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including:

  • After being informed that the Charter does not protect property rights, 56% of Canadians strongly supported/somewhat supported amending the Charter to protect private property. Support was highest in Alberta at 67%.
  • Only 36% of Canadians strongly/somewhat supported removing the section 33 “notwithstanding” clause from the Charter.

You can download the CCF report yourself.