Fifty-nine per cent of Quebecers admit to being racist to some degree, according to a Léger Marketing survey published Monday in Le Journal de Montréal.
In comparison, only 47 per cent of those outside Quebec say they are racist to some degree.
Among Quebecers, most (43 per cent) said they were only mildly racist, while 15 per cent said they were moderately racist andonlyone per cent responded that they werevery racist.
The findings stunned Jean Dorion of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste.
"I do not perceive the Quebec society as being racist," he told Le Journal de Montréal.
The findings come from three surveysin late December and early January. The first two surveys were conducted over the internet, with 2,228 Quebecers taking part, while the third survey interviewed 3,092 people across Canada.
The survey looked at Quebecers' views of a variety of cultural groups.
It found 36 per cent of Quebecers have a bad opinion of Jewish people, while27 per cent have a poor opinion of blacks. Fiftyper cent have a bad opinion of Muslims.
Jean-Marc Léger, president of Leger Marketing, said Quebecers are influenced by the images of Muslims seen after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
"The Arab community carries the weight of Sept. 11 and religious extremists," Léger told Le Journal de Montréal. "People were thinking of them when they answered the survey."
Bashir Hussein, who represents Quebec in the Council of Muslim Communities of Canada, said people are also shaped by the media coverage of violence in the Middle East.
"Whatever people read in the newspapers, they form their opinion from," he told CBC News.
Survey methods questioned
Jack Jedwab, a Montrealer who has done extensive statistical and demographic work, questions how the survey was structured, especially the sections asking Quebecers if they consider themselves racist.
Quebecers were asked if they consider themselves very racist, moderately racist, slightly racist or not racist at all.
Jedwab said in three out of four answers, respondents end up labelling themselves racist.
If Jedwab were writing the question, he would have made the ratio two questions out of four, asking people if they are very racist, somewhat racist, not racist or not at all racist.
Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association of Canadian Studies, said it's dangerous to have a survey that shows such a high level of racism.
"It will lead people to say, 'Let's face it, everyone's racist,'" he told CBC News Online. "They'll think it's to be expected. That will minimize the resolve to combat this problem of racism that needs to be addressed."
The Quebec portion of the survey is considered to have a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The one done outside Quebec had a margin of errorof 1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.