Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says many Canadians don't understand the difference between the Canadian Charter and the rights set out in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Many Canadians also don't understand the difference between the Canadian Charter and the rights outlined in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the poll suggests.
When asked if everyone living in Canada has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, 88% of respondents said yes, compared to just 9% who said no and 3%. who refused to respond.
There is no reference to the pursuit of happiness in the Canadian document, which instead refers to the life, liberty and security of the person and not to be deprived thereof, except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
We do not know our Charter well enough, argued Mr. Jedwab, even if we claim to know it.
The survey also tested Canadians' knowledge of whether the federal government can limit rights.
The Charter allows this to happen under the notwithstanding clause. The provincial governments of Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan have sparked debate in recent years for using this clause preemptively.
Among those who said they had read the Charter, nearly 65% of respondents said yes when asked whether the Canadian government could limit their rights, compared to 24% who said no.
Just over half of those who have not read the document agree that the government can limit their rights, compared with about a third who say it cannot.
When it comes to which rights Canadians consider most important, Mr. Jedwab said the results show that respondents prioritized individual rights above the rights of minority groups.
For example, when asked to rank which Charter rights are most in need of protection, 17% of people Respondents chose freedom of expression first, followed by the right to privacy, then gender equality, at 14% and 13% respectively.
Freedom of assembly and freedom of religion were each chosen first by 5% of participants, while 3% of respondents placed the rights of linguistic minorities at the top of the list.
The rights of vulnerable minorities are not ranked as high on the scale, Jedwab ruled.
A separate poll conducted by Leger among the same groups asked Canadians if they thought everyone was born with an equal chance to succeed. The results suggest a large generation gap on this, Jebwab said.
About 51 percent of respondents aged 35 to 44 said yes whether everyone is born with equal opportunities to succeed in Canada. This rate rises to 60% or more for people aged 55 and over.
However, less than a third, or 32%. , respondents aged 18 to 34 agreed with this statement.
Mr. Jedwab believes this gap reflects the economic issues younger generations are struggling with, particularly when it comes to housing affordability.
The possibility becoming a homeowner or buying a house at present is reduced for the younger generation under 35, he adds.