Poll: What do Canadians think about free expression issues?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For the second time in the Review of Free Expression in Canada, CJFE partnered with Nanos Research to poll Canadians about their opinions on some of the most important free expression issues of the past year: government openness and access to information, the muzzling of federal scientists, digital surveillance practices, and the publishing of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by Canadian media outlets. The numbers show a strong demand for more openness in government, both in terms of access to information and federal scientists’ ability to speak freely about their research. Canadians are also concerned about the government’s secretive surveillance practices and monitoring of cellphone metadata. Finally, a majority of Canadians felt media outlets in this country should have published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad following the January 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo. How do your thoughts compare to those of your fellow Canadians? View the entire article below or download the PDF.

Here's what we asked Canadians:

Are each of the following important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant, or unimportant to you personally? A) Improving government openness and access to information about what it is doing:

  • Important: 79%
  • • Somewhat important: 16%
  • • Somewhat unimportant: 3%
  • • Unimportant: 1%
  • • Unsure: 1%

B) Scientists in the government being able to speak publicly about their research:

  • Important: 79%
  • • Somewhat important: 15%
  • • Somewhat unimportant: 5%
  • • Unimportant: 2%
  • • Unsure: 1%

Are you concerned, somewhat concerned, somewhat unconcerned, or unconcerned with the following: A) The current level of government openness around digital surveillance and other monitoring activities:

  • Concerned: 49%
  • • Somewhat concerned: 24%
  • • Somewhat unconcerned: 14%
  • • Unconcerned: 12%
  • • Unsure: 2%

B) The federal government tracking cellphone metadata (location data, call logs, etc.) of some Canadians without oversight or warrants from the courts:

  • Concerned: 50%
  • • Somewhat concerned: 21%
  • • Somewhat unconcerned: 14%
  • • Unconcerned: 15%
  • • Unsure: 0%

As you may know, on Jan. 7, 2015, Charlie Hebdo magazine was attacked in Paris following the publication of provocative cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. Some Canadian news outlets published the provocative cartoons following the attack while other outlets did not. Do you agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or disagree that Canadian news outlets should have published the provocative cartoons?

  • Agree: 42%
  • • Somewhat agree: 22%
  • • Somewhat disagree: 14%
  • • Disagree: 16%
  • • Unsure: 7%

Nanos conducted a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians between Feb. 22 and 27, 2015, as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land- and cell-lines across Canada. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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