Angus Reid Poll: Canadians Divided on Australia-style Apology to Aboriginal Population
The vast majority thinks Ottawa should work harder to eradicate poverty in aboriginal communities.
[TORONTO – Mar. 5, 2008] – Adults in Canada are split on whether Ottawa should follow the lead of the Australian government and offer an apology to the country’s indigenous peoples for past wrongdoings, a new Angus Reid Strategies poll has found.Last month, Australian Prime Minister and leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) Kevin Rudd became the first head of government to formally apologize to Australia’s Aboriginal population for the “laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss” upon them.
In the online survey of a representative national sample, 42 per cent of respondents think the Canadian government should offer a similar apology to the country’s Aboriginal population, while 39 per cent disagree.
Although respondents are divided on whether an official apology from Ottawa is required, the vast majority of Canadians agrees that more should be done to help Aboriginal communities. Seventy per cent of respondents want the federal government to do more to deal with poverty in Aboriginal communities, and 72 per cent want to speed-up existing Aboriginal land claims disputes
In an Angus Reid Strategies poll conducted in July 2007, 64 per cent of respondents urged the government to do more to alleviate poverty in Aboriginal communities, and 71 per cent wanted a prompt solution to pending land claims disputes.
Just like in 2007, respondents are still pondering whether the government was right to vote against the United Nations (UN) Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in June 2006. Last year, 29 per cent of respondents thought Canada was correct in voting against the Declaration, while 29 per cent thought it should have endorsed it.
In the latest survey, 32 per cent of respondents think Canada was right to vote against the declaration, because it is inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and could prevent military activities on aboriginal land. Conversely, 30 per cent of respondents think Canada was wrong to vote against the declaration, because the government has opposed a major international effort to promote human rights and fight discrimination. Almost two-in-five respondents (37%) remain undecided about this topic.
Canada offers billions of dollars in aid to several countries around the globe. Still, two-thirds of respondents (68%) think the federal government should help its Aboriginal population before allocating money and resources to other countries.
Albertans hold very different views on Aboriginal affairs from the rest of the country. Only 27 per cent of respondents in Alberta think the federal government should offer a formal apology to Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, compared to at least 39 per cent of respondents in other provinces. Less than half of Albertans (47%) urge the government to do more to curb poverty in Aboriginal communities, while the number is markedly higher elsewhere.
Albertans are also more likely to dismiss the necessity to speed up land claims disputes (37%), and to believe that Canada was right to reject the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (50%).
Angus Reid Poll: International recognition of native rights – what do Canadians think?
CONTACT Mario Canseco, Director of Global Studies, 604-647-3570, firstname.lastname@example.org