Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois campaigns in Quebec, August 2012.
Credits: ANNIE T ROUSSEL/JOURNAL DE QUEBEC/AGENCE QMI
OTTAWA - Canadians who say they'd be willing to give Quebec the boot if they had the choice are giving in to "superficial cynicism," Liberal MP Stephane Dion says.
"People answer these polls with an immediate reaction that may be more cynical than if they actually took the time to think about it," he said.
The Montreal MP was responding to an Abacus Data survey published by QMI Agency Tuesday that indicates 26% of Canadians are ready to throw Quebec out of the country. It also found 88% of Canadians believe all provinces should be treated equally even if it upsets Quebec.
Dion isn't a stranger to unity battles - he's the architect of the Clarity Act, which allows the federal government to determine whether a referendum question is clear and what constitutes a majority.
He said he's not surprised by the poll results and could see how there would be frustration with Quebec and its nationalist movement, but "to understand doesn't mean you agree."
"Canada is a project and we need to fight for it," he said. "We cannot take our country for granted."
NDP finance critic Peggy Nash brushed off the poll results. She said Canadians are united and pointed to the way the nation rallied around its athletes during the London Olympics as an example.
"I don't think there's a mood of divisiveness among Canadians. I think there's a great sense of national pride," she said, ignoring the fact Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois used the success of Quebec athletes as proof the province could survive as a nation.
"Madame Marois is in an election campaign," Nash said.
Over 83% of NDP supporters polled said they want all provinces to be treated equally, even if it upsets Quebec.
That figure also didn't concern Nash, even though the bulk of the New Democrat caucus comes from Quebec and the party is a strong defender of the province's interests.
"The good news is that for the first time in years, Quebecers chose a federalist party" in the 2011 general election, she said.
Heritage Minister James Moore was in Sudbury, ON, Tuesday to launch consultations on bilingualism, but declined to react to the survey results.
"Quebec is having an election right now and I'm not going to comment," he said.