From the Canadian Constitution Foundation:
TORONTO, ON: With Constitution Day (March 29th) fast approaching, a survey commissioned by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) has revealed a startling lack of basic knowledge among Canadians about Canada’s Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Among other findings:
- 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.
Given Canadians’ lack of knowledge about their Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the CCF is promoting Constitution Day, to be held annually on March 29th. Details are on the website www.ConstitutionDay.ca.
The Constitution Day celebration aims to advance awareness and understanding of our Constitution among all Canadians, especially young Canadians. Like the similar “U.S. Citizenship and Constitution Day”, the CCF encourages governments and citizens alike to acknowledge and celebrate this day each year.
March 29th has been selected as the date for Constitution Day because as Acts of the British Parliament, both the British North America Act, 1867 (now known as the Constitution Act, 1867), and the Canada Act, 1982, (the Constitution Act, 1982, was a Schedule to the Canada Act) received Royal Assent on the same day, March 29, in their respective years.
As part of this effort, the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is unveiling a new website at www.ConstitutionDay.ca, which makes available:
- Results of a public opinion poll conducted by Abacus Data which reveals the current state of knowledge, or lack thereof, of Canadians of their Constitution and the rights and freedoms it affords.
- Constitutional curriculum to assist teachers in teaching about Canada’s Constitution, and to help students learn about it.
- Other tools to raise awareness and to educate about the Constitution, including a graphic guide, info-graphic, video content, etc.
For more information:
The Canadian Constitution Foundation (“Freedom’s Defence Team”) is a registered charity, independent and non-partisan, whose mission is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through education, communication and litigation.