Special Report

Pauline Marois downplays non-francophone exodus

Parti Québécois ministers are downplaying worries of an exodus from the province after a CBC-Ekos poll that found half of non-francophones surveyed have considered leaving Quebec over the past year.

Opposition blames Parti Québécois for division

Premier Marois said Quebec's anglophone population is just as important to the Parti Québécois as the province's other founding communities.

Premier Pauline Marois says she is not worried about an exodus from the province, following the publication of a CBC-Ekos poll that found half of non-francophones surveyed have considered leaving Quebec during the past year.

The poll results suggested that 51 per cent of anglophones surveyed had seriously considered leaving Quebec in the last year. 

"I have great respect for the Anglo Quebecers. This community is important in my perspective," said Marois. "I have always have a great respect of this community and I will continue to as leader of the government."

Marois said she believes the Parti Québécois has always been respectful to the anglophone population and that they are just as important as Quebec's other founding communities. 

Other ministers say they've seen these results before and are not concerned about the numbers.

“Anglo Quebecers are part of this nation. They co-founded this nation. They make a great contribution to Montreal in particular, the Townships and other places. Their place is here," said Jean-François Lisée, the PQ minister responsible for Montreal. 

I have great respect for the Anglo Quebecers ... and I will continue to as leader of the government.-  Premier Pauline Marois

But the opposition says the findings are more worrisome than the government is letting on and the PQ is to blame for dividing Quebecers,

“When you see what the PQ is doing to Quebec, people who can leave have a reason to leave,” said Quebec Liberal Party MNA, Yves Bolduc.

Quebec's Health Minister, Réjean Hébert, admits that when the PQ is in power, unease among non-francophones is inevitable. However, he said, he still doesn't believe a mass exodus is coming. 

“This government has always been fair to the anglophones and allophones, and it's going to continue, but I cannot do anything about the anxiety of some people,” said Hébert.

Charter divide 

Non-francophones first started leaving Quebec in large numbers during the late 1970s when over 100,000 anglophones fled in the wake of the election of the province's first PQ government.

Today, opposition parties point to the proposed secular charter as the type of legislation that could push more non-francophones to leave. However, Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault says he believes there are still strong reasons for non-francophones to stay.

“These are numbers we've been seeing for a long time and what is reassuring is, although we've been seeing these numbers, Anglo Quebecers stay in a very huge majority. And that's the result we want,”

The PQ government, however, says it believes the charter would unite — not divide — Quebec.

About the survey

A total of 2,020 Quebec residents were interviewed by phone between Feb. 10 and 18, 2014, as part of this CBC-commissioned Ekos study. The margin of error for a sample of 2,020 is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Those surveyed included 782 anglophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 95 per cent of the time), 1,009 francophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 95 per cent of the time) and 223 allophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points 95 per cent of the time).

Anglophones are respondents who identified their mother tongue as English; francophones are people who identified their mother tongue as French; and allophones identified their mother tongue as "other."

Percentages for total respondents have been weighted to reflect linguistic population make-up of Quebec.


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