Hockey Isn't as Important to Canadians as Their Bill of Rights

Canadians like hockey. They love the constitutional bill of rights.

The document, passed into law in 1982 as part of the country’s constitution, was chosen as the most important national symbol with 93 percent support in a survey on Canadian identity published Thursday by the national statistics agency. Hockey came last among five options, behind the national anthem ‘O Canada’ at 88 percent, the federal police force -- the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, nicknamed the Mounties -- at 87 percent and the country’s maple-leaf flag at 91 percent.

“Ranking the lowest, but still garnering majority support, was hockey, with 77 percent of Canadians believing that it was an important national symbol,” Ottawa-based Statistics Canada’s said, adding its identity survey is the first of its kind, and it being carried out in the run up to the nation’s 150th anniversary in 2017.

Overall 87 percent of people said they were proud or very proud to call themselves Canadian, with lower levels of attachment in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a somewhat new symbol of Canada, legislation that came into force in 1982 as the nation’s formal constitutional ties to the U.K. were cut. The Charter embeds rights such as freedom of religion and speech. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s high support may also have roots in the constitution, which promises to ensure “peace, order and good government.”

The survey allowed respondents to name other symbols of Canada beyond the five designated choices. The top response at 16 percent was the beaver, the country’s national animal that defined Canada’s early days as a fur-trading colony.

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