MONTREAL — Quebec's proposed charter of values, which would ban public workers from wearing religious symbols, has deeply divided the province, according to a new Leger Marketing poll.
Nearly 43% of Quebec residents support the charter, while 42% oppose it, according to the poll commissioned by QMI Agency.
"We haven't seen such divisions since the ... 1995 referendum," said Leger vice-president Christian Bourque.
The poll, which surveyed 2,000 people online Friday and Saturday, shows a strong linguistic divide. Most, 72%, of anglophones and 66% of allophones — those whose mother tongue is neither French nor English — are against the proposed law.
But compared to a survey done last month, support for the draft charter has declined in the province.
In a poll Aug. 26, nearly 57% of Quebecers said they believe the charter is a good idea.
The proposed charter, unveiled by the separatist government last week, would ban public workers from wearing religious symbols, such as headscarves, skullcaps and large crosses.
There's been speculation that Premier Pauline Marois released her plan with an eye on an election that some believe could be held before Christmas.
If the secularism charter becomes an election issue, it would put the PQ and the Liberals on opposite sides of the debate.
Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has said Marois' plan, which he dismissed as "job discrimination," will become law "over (his) dead body."
The weekend poll has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.