CANADIAN PUBLIC OPINION POLLS
See also descriptions of polls
for other years
We use the term "SSM" to refer to same-sex marriage
A battle has been in progress for years over whether same-sex
couples should be allowed to marry. The core conflict is whether:
|Marriage should be a special privilege of opposite-sex couples made
up of one
man and one woman. This is currently required by legislation in most
jurisdictions and supported by social conservatives and
most mainline religious institutions in North America, or |
|Whether all couples, both same-sex and opposite sex should be
allowed to marry. This is supported by more liberal religious groups,
most human rights groups, and gay-positive support groups.|
As of the end of 2004, courts in one territory and seven provinces have
ruled that SSM is legal. Same-sex couples can marry
in every province in Canada except for Alberta, New Brunswick and Prince
2004-FEB: Ipsos Reid poll:
On 2004-JAN-15, Ipsos-Reid conducted a poll of 1,055 randomly
selected adult Canadians for the Globe and Mail newspaper and the CTV
television network. The margin of error is 3.1%. The national results were:
48% said that Paul Martin should not amend Canada's marriage
laws to include same-sex marriages.
47% said that he should
5% had no opinion.
Support for SSM was:
58% in Quebec
50% in British Columbia
49% of urban dwellers
41% of rural dwellers
51% of women
43% of men
32% of those with some high school or less
42% of those who completed high school
48% of college graduates or some post-graduate education
56% with at least a bachelor's degree
42% among those earning less than $30,000 annually
45% among those earning $30 up to 60 thousand
54% among those earning over $60,000
60% of those aged 18 to 34
48% of those aged 35 to 54
33% of those aged 55 and above.
2004-APR-6 to 11: Leger Marketing
Leger Marketing conducted a phone interview among 1,511 Canadian
adults. The margin of error is stated to be 2.6 percentage points. When asked "Are
you in favor or not of same-sex marriages" the response was:
43% were in favor of same-sex marriages
47% were opposed
9% were undecided or refused to answer.
Quebec subjects were the most in favor of same-sex
marriage (51% pro vs. 40% anti)
British Columbians were next (47% vs. 43%)
Alberta were the last (36% vs. 56%)
Age is a major factor. 58% of subjects 55 years of age
and older, and 63% of retirees are opposed to SSM.
2004-JUN-16 & 21: Centre for
Research and Information on Canada poll
Environics Research Group interviewed 1,500 adult Canadians for
CRIC. The margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.
57% of Canadians agree that same-sex couples should be
allowed to marry.
38% feel that marriage should be prohibited
5% are undecided or gave no response.
There was an enormous 40 point spread
between the support for SSM by young adults and the elderly:
77% of those aged 18 to 29
37% of those over 60 agreed.
2004-OCT: Ipsos-Reid poll:
This poll was conducted shortly before the Supreme Court
of Canada started its hearing on the federal
government's same-sex marriage reference. This poll's first question
"As you may know, the courts in Ontario, Quebec, Nova
Scotia, Manitoba and the Yukon have recognized same-sex marriages in
their province or territory and made them legal. Based on knowing this,
do you support or oppose same-sex couples being allowed to marry and
register their marriage with their provincial government?"
Ipsos-Reid reports that support for SSM has changed very
little since they started to poll Canadian adults on this topic eight years
1996: 49% of Canadian adults support same-sex
1999: 55% support
2003: 49% support
2004: 54% supported same-sex marriage, 43%
opposed; 3% had no opinion.
The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points. So, all four
results are not significantly different.
Young people, women, people with higher levels of education,
people with higher income, people resident in more cosmopolitan provinces
were more supportive of SSM. Support for SSM was found among:
64% of persons 18 to 34; 41% of those over 54.
58% of persons in urban areas; 37% of those in rural
60% of persons with some postsecondary education; 44% of
those with a high-school diploma or less.
Opposition to SSM was found among:
51% of males; 36% of women.
A second polling question asked whether the subject accepted
the use of the word "marriage" to refer to a same-sex union. The
"Now, let's suppose the Supreme Court of Canada rules
similarly that same-sex marriage is constitutional. Would you accept
this decision fully with no restrictions in its application and that the
word marriage be used for everyone or do you want the federal government
to do everything it can to make the legal use of the word marriage apply
only to heterosexuals in law - that is, a man and a woman?"
Results were: 52% accept the use of the word "marriage"
to include SSM. 45% wanted to restrict the term to only opposite-sex
Again, every politician's worst nightmare.
2004-OCT: Globe and Mail poll:
The Globe and Mail is often billed as Canada's national newspaper. It has
traditionally been slightly conservatives. They polled their readers about
OCT-04 asking: "Do you believe that marriage should be an institution
reserved only for a man and woman?"
|51% favored SSM|
|49% were opposed to SSM 4,5|
2004-NOV-19 to 22: Ipsos-Reid poll:
Ipsos-Reid conducted a poll
shortly before the
Supreme Court of Canada released its rulings
on the federal government SSM reference. It showed that a sizeable majority of
Canadian adults -- 71% -- support same-sex marriage in principle. However, they
differ in how SSM should be recognized.
39% feel that SSM should be "fully
recognized and equal to conventional heterosexual marriage."
32% believe it should "be
allowed to exist in civil law but not have the same legal weight as a
27% believe that "it is wrong
and should never be lawful."
2% either don't have an opinion or
declined to say. 9
2004-DEC-11 to 16: Nordic Research Group poll:
Enshrine Marriage Canada is a secular group which "seeks
to protect the traditional definition of marriage through an amendment to the
Constitution that will preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
They arranged to have the Nordic Research Group sample 1,025 Canadians by
telephone from 2004-DEC-11 to 17. The margin of error is 3.1%
The poll was taken shortly after the
Supreme Court of Canada released its rulings on the
federal reference questions on SSM.
The subjects were asked the question: "Do you
support/oppose keeping the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one
woman?" Results were:
|59.8% support the current definition of marriage.|
This result agrees closely with the findings of the Ipsos-Reid poll described
above. There are two groups who would presumably prefer that same-sex couples
not receive the full status of marriage: the 27% who are opposed to SSM under
all conditions and the 32% who don't want SSM to have the same weight as
conventional marriage. The sum of these two groups is 59% -- a value close to
the Enshrine Marriage Canada finding.
This pair of polls provides material for both sides in the SSM argument:
|Conservatives quote the Nordic Research results and point out that
almost 60% of Canadians want marriage to remain a union between one man-one
|Liberals can point out that the most popular position that Canadians
take is to make SSM "fully recognized and equal
to conventional heterosexual marriage." They can also say that 71% of
Canadians support SSM.|
Unfortunately, Enshrine Marriage Canada has not released the
percentage in favor of allowing all committed couples to marry, and the
percentage who had no opinion or who refused to answer.
Related essays in this web site include:
- "Canadians and their
Tolerance towards Homosexuality," Leger Marketing, 2004-MAY-25, at:
- "Canadians Reject Ban
on Religious Symbols or Clothes in Schools Majority Sees Racial or
Religious Background of Party Leaders as Irrelevant," CRIC,
- "Poll finds narrow
support for same-sex marriage," CEV.ca, 2004-OCT-07, at:
- Margaret Philip, "Support
for same-sex marriage still split. Though level of backing hasn't
changed, debate heats up on use of word 'marriage'," Globe and Mail,
- "Poll Results,"
The Globe and Mail, circa 2004-OCT-4, at:
- "Canadians Split on
Same-Sex marriage, but Most Side With the Courts over Parliament," CRIC,
- "Canadians are divided on big
federal issues," Ipsos-Reid, 2004-FEB-01, at:
- "A Strong Majority of
Canadians Oppose Redefining Marriage. Enshrine Marriage Canada Survey Finds
Canadians Want Marriage Protected," EnshrineMarriage.ca, 2004-DEC-17, at:
- "Canadians And Same Sex
Marriage As The Supreme Court Of Canada Makes Its Ruling: 71% Support Concept,
27% Don’t," Ipsos-Reid, 2004-DEC-09, at:
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Copyright © 2004 & 2005 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2004-OCT-11
Author: B.A. Robinson