'People are confused': Survey suggests Canadians need education on Charter rights

Canadian constitution 2 (www.viufa.ca)

OTTAWA - A new survey shows one-third of Canadians say they have read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But many fail to distinguish between its text and that of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and there's division on whether people think its opening line is right.

The results come from a web survey with more than 15-hundred Canadians back in September by the polling firm Leger.

The Charter opens with a line that says "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law."

The survey found 38 per cent of respondents agreed with that and 37 per cent didn't.

And a big majority of Canadians think the Charter protects their pursuit of happiness, but that's language from the American Declaration of Independence.

Jack Jedwab is president of the Association for Canadian Studies, which commissioned the poll with the Metropolis Institute.

He says the results suggest that many people feel they know the Charter better than they actually do and more education is needed.

He says he thinks Canadians consider their society to be secular and many don't like the reference to God in the 1982 document.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.