Nearly one-half of Canadians think post-secondary education should be free, according to the latest public opinion poll commissioned by CAUT.
Overall, public support for the elimination of university and college tuition fees ranged from 41 per cent in Alberta to more than 61 per cent in Atlantic Canada. In addition, 73 per cent of Canadians surveyed agreed that the federal government should increase spending on colleges and universities.
The Decima Research poll also asked Canadians about the most important priorities for the federal government. Across the country, 36 per cent of respondents said increased spending on social programs, such as health and education, should be the highest priority of government. This was followed closely by tax cuts at 34 per cent and debt reduction at 27 per cent.
Held just before the fall of the government, the poll suggested a general election would result in another minority regime. Nationally, support for the Liberals was at 33 per cent, compared to 28 per cent for the Conservatives and 21 per cent for the New Democratic Party. In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois enjoys the support of 58 per cent of decided voters, far ahead of the Liberals who are preferred by 25 per cent.
The survey also asked Canadians their views on the growing debate about the impact of new and proposed antiterrorism measures on civil liberties. Overall, 44 per cent of respondents said the federal government has so far struck the right balance between protecting civil liberties and combating terrorism, while about one in five said the government has put too much emphasis on protecting civil liberties and fighting terrorism.
When asked about their support for specific antiterrorism measures, Canadians are largely in favour of placing video cameras in all public places (74 per cent), requiring everyone to carry a national identification card (68 per cent), and deporting all terrorist suspects (59 per cent). At the same time, 62 per cent are opposed to allowing American authorities to have access to confidential information about Canadians.
The poll also reveals that Canadians are split on whether they would allow suspected terrorists to be held without trial, or would allow the police and other authorities to monitor e-mail and Internet communication.
CAUT executive director James Turk said the results of the poll show there is a need to step up the work to educate the public about the dangers of these antiterrorism measures.
“When the government creates a climate of fear, people can easily be convinced we need all the tools we can find to catch the bad guys,” he said. “But the type of tools and measures we’re talking about can also harm innocent people and can involve gathering information about all of us.”
The October poll results are based on a sample of 2,000 Canadians and are considered to have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.