Senior citizens more patriotic than young Canadians: poll

A new national survey gauging Canadian attitudes on patriotism shows a significant difference between relatively blase younger citizens and their flag-waving elders when it comes to expressing pride in their country.

The poll, commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies, suggests a surprising 30-percentage-point gap between Canada’s youngest adults and the nation’s senior citizens, more than 90 per cent of whom consider themselves patriotic.

About 62 per cent of survey respondents aged 18 to 24 said they were patriotic about Canada, while 91 per cent of those ages 65 to 74 — and 95 per cent of those 75 and over — described themselves as patriotic.

Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based history and identity think-tank, suggests the results reflect the fact that “national identities and patriotism grow over time” — effectively ripening as citizens grow older.

“We are often misled by the idea that it is something that needs to be instilled at an early age so as to flourish in the future,” he said. “I believe youth tend to develop an initial belonging to family, school and things most immediate to their environment. Canada is often a concept that will develop over time.”

Overall, about three-quarters of those surveyed — 77 per cent — described themselves as patriotic, including 47 per cent of respondents who said they feel their patriotism “strongly.”

But in keeping with other Association for Canadian Studies surveys measuring aspects of national identity, Quebec residents produced significantly different results than other Canadians.

Only 42 per cent of Quebecers polled said they felt patriotic about Canada, and just 14 per cent expressed a strong sense of pride in the nation.

Respondents in the Atlantic provinces were most likely to describe themselves as patriotic — 93 per cent. They also expressed that feeling most intensely, with 69 per cent describing their patriotism as strong. A strong majority of residents of Manitoba/Saskatchewan (91 per cent), Ontario (90 per cent), Alberta (81 per cent) and B.C. (86 per cent) said they were patriotic.

Jedwab said Quebec’s unique historical, political and linguistic profile means that residents’ “feeling of belonging to Canada can be ambiguous.”

The survey of 1,500 Canadians was conducted via web panel by the firm Leger Marketing during the last week of October. The results are considered accurate to within 3.9 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Original Article appeared in the Edmonton Journal