More Canadians want the federal government to mark the historic achievements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Medicare and women gaining the right to vote, than celebrations of the War of 1812, according to a survey conducted by Nanos Research and published in the February issue of Policy Options.

The Conservative government ran a media campaign in 2012 to raise national awareness and pride in the War of 1812, fought between the United States and the British Empire in part along the US-Canadian frontier. The survey shows that the celebrations made 38 percent of Canadians feel more or somewhat more patriotic, while 45 percent said it had no effect on their sense of patriotism.

Only one in five Canadians oppose, to some degree, the government’s sponsoring of War of 1812 celebrations, though that figure rises to 31 percent in Quebec.

But while 61 percent of Canadians say they support or somewhat support the government encouraging celebrations of the War of 1812, 79 percent say the government should have marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an event the government ignored last year. And 76 percent said the Government of Canada should encourage celebrating the 1918 law in which Canadian women outside Quebec achieved the right to vote.

More than 62 percent of Canadians favoured the government marking the 1966 passage of universal health care. “Canadians are proud of their history and are comfortable with having the Government of Canada encourage celebrating our achievements,” says Nik Nanos of Nanos Research. “But pride in our social and political history surpasses pride in pre-Confederation battles, even without an orchestrated government campaign to raise awareness and stoke interest.” Despite the enduring national joy at Canada’s come from-behind victory over the Soviet Union in the 1972 hockey series, the survey found that only 45 percent of Canadians thought the federal government should take a role in celebrating the anniversary of that seminal sporting event.


For more details, see “Harper’s History,” by Scott Staring.