Attitudes toward civil liberties and the Canadian Charter of Rights, 1987

The Charter Project measured Canadians' attitudes and support for civil liberties. The results of the survey provide a baseline measurement of attitudes soon after the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The surveys also provide measures of the firmness and stability of these attitudes when confronted with competing perspectives on a given issue. The study includes: sampling and study procedure variables, respondent's personal demographic and socio-economic information, residence information, education, occupation, income, attitudes on the Charter and the Supreme Court, attitudes on equality rights, fundamental freedomes, aboriginal peoples, language, mobility, legal rights, political orientations and activities, race, immigration, values

Alternative title
Civil liberties project, 1987
Civil liberties in Canada
Data creator

Sniderman, Paul M., Joseph F. Fletcher, Peter H. Russell, & Philip E. Tetlock

Date of creation
1987 Dec
Toronto, ON: York University. Institute for Social Research (ISRP690)
Date of distribution
1989 May
Geographic coverage

Canada, provinces


The sample for the the General population survey was chosen according to a two-stage probability selection process: the first stage involved the selection of a household by means of the random generation of telephone numbers; the second stage involved the random selection of an eligible respondent in each of the selected households. The sample was designed to be representative of the adult Canadian population and to be large enough to produce both national and regional estimates

Date of collection
1987 Mar to 1987 Dec
Mode of data collecton

Computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) & mail-back questionnaire.

The first component of the project, the General Population survey, was a 33 minute telephone interview with a representative sample of 2084 Canadians. Households were selected using random digit dialing procedures and respondents were selected randomly within households. Interviewing was carried out in both English and French between March and August, 1987. The response rate for the General population survey was 64%.

The second component of the project, the Decision Makers survey, was a telephone survey of lawyers, MPs, MPPs, police officers, Ministry officials, and Crown Attorneys. These 1348 respondents represent the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government which are charged with interpreting and applying the Canadian Charter of Rights. A slightly shorter version of the interview instrument averaging 29 minutes in length was used in this phase of the project. Interviewing was carried out between April and September of 1987 in English and French. Between October and December 1987 a supplemental sample of 35 decision maker respondents in Quebec were interviewed.

The telephone interviewing was conducted with computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) equipment from a centralized telephone laboratory located at the Institute. Features of the CATI system were used to examine the effects of variations in question wording and question order in survey research.

Respondents of both telephone surveys were asked to complete a mailback questionnaire. Approximately 80% of respondents to both the General Population survey and the Decision Makers survey gave their addresses and about 75% of each sample returned the questionnaire, for a total of 2186 mail completions.

Demographic variables collected via the Decision Makers survey were made available only to the principal investigators.

Unit of observation
Extent of file

2 data files (2,084 and 1,348 logical records) & accompanying documentation


Printed technical documentation available in UT/DLS, Robarts Library, room 5038F

Additional Online Documentation:

Funding agency

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada



Sniderman, Paul M. et al. Attitudes toward civil liberties and the Canadian Charter of Rights [computer file]. Toronto, Ont.: York University. Institute for Social Research [producer and distributor], May 1989.

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