TORONTO – A new poll suggests support for maintaining ties to the monarchy is on the rise in Canada, with only Quebec bucking a trend that may be partly driven by the star power of William and Kate and the Conservative government’s cultural policy.
“It does seem things are, on this question, becoming more polarized between Quebec and the rest of Canada,” said Harris-Decima consultant Robert Hughes.
It is a Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey conducted between May 17 and May 20 that indicates a rise in support for Canada’s royal connection. The poll was conducted just before Prince Charles and Camilla made a whirlwind visit to the country.
Those surveyed were asked whether they thought the monarchy is an important part of Canadian history and political culture that ought to be maintained or if it is a relic of our colonial past that has no place in the Canada of today.
Overall, the poll indicated some 51 per cent of Canucks want to maintain Canada’s links to the monarchy.
That is a six percentage point increase, up from 45 per cent of the population in support of keeping the Queen as head of state, when the survey’s results are compared to a similar poll conducted in 2009. The increase is mostly seen among those over the age of 35.
In Quebec, however, just 24 per cent of respondents say the monarchy is an important part of Canadian history, a figure that’s actually down six percentage points from the previous poll.
But the royals have increased in popularity in all other parts of the country, the poll indicates.
One possible reason for that increase in English Canada is likely the incredibly popular Canadian visit of Prince William and his wife Kate last summer — the first international trip the couple made after being wed.
“That’s probably given people a more positive view of the monarchy in general Canada,” said Hughes. “They’re younger, they’re more photogenic, more popular…I think when they do come there’s a bigger star power.”
Another element driving support for the monarchy could be the federal Conservative government’s efforts to highlight the country’s long-standing links to the monarchy, said Hughes.
“There’s been a shift in the way the Harper government has been approaching the monarchy, it’s become part of their cultural policy,” he said. “People have gotten on board with that.”
As part of its efforts to strengthen ties to the monarchy, the Harper government restored the word “royal” to divisions of the Canadian military.
Ottawa has also pledged $7.5 million to help fund months of activities across the country this year commemorating the Queen’s sixty years on the throne.
When looking at the political leanings of the survey’s participants, the poll found 66 per cent of Conservative supporters surveyed were in favour of the monarchy in Canada, compared to 55 per cent of Liberal supporters and 44 per cent of NDP supporters questioned.
Meanwhile, 75 per cent of Bloc Quebecois supporters polled feel the monarchy has no place in Canada today.
The lack of support for the monarchy in Quebec could have less to do with geography and more to do with politics, said Hughes.
“It likely has something to do with the fact that the Conservative party seems to be supporting the monarchy more, and they’re less popular in Quebec than they have been,” he said.
The telephone survey by Harris Decima of just over 1,000 people has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The results of the poll come as no surprise to the Monarchist League of Canada.
“The numbers would be consistent with what we tend to see,” said Dominion Chairman Robert Finch. “The majority of Canadians support the monarchy and support for the monarchy in every region except for Quebec is overwhelmingly positive.”
Given what he called years of separatist parties decrying the country’s ties to the monarchy in Quebec, Finch said the low support for the Crown in the Francophone province continues a historical trend.
“I’m thankful there’s any support for the monarchy in Quebec,” he said. “It’s always an opportunity for us to reach out and make sure that Quebecers understand that the monarchy is there for them.”
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee — which will culminates a lavish ceremony in London on the anniversary of the coronation next month — should also be noted as a key factor driving interest in the monarchy this year, said Finch.
“We’re celebrating the remarkable reign of a remarkable woman,” he said. “It’s no coincidence that Canadians start to rally around the monarch in the news.”