Remembrance Day silence should be mandatory: Poll

OTTAWA – A majority of Canadians believe observing two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day should be mandatory rather than voluntary, suggests a new poll released to Canwest News Service.

Seven in 10 Canadians who responded to the survey agreed that governments at all levels should enact a law to make everyone stop and observe two minutes of silence on Nov. 11, according to the Ipsos-Reid poll.

The poll surveyed 1,032 people between Nov. 3 and 5, on behalf of the Historica-Dominion Institute.

A further 57 per cent of respondents said all public transit and cars, wherever possible, should stop for two minutes at 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day, which falls Wednesday, to honour this country’s fallen soldiers.

The support for mandatory silence may have more to do with Canadians’ passion to keep a tradition alive than actually wanting it legally enshrined, said Marc Chalifoux, spokesman for the Historica-Dominion Institute.

“There is a growing awareness among Canadians about the importance of remembering those who have served and died under our flag and those who are currently serving in very dangerous places,” he said.

The escalating number of Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan may be a significant reason for the current desire to observe Remembrance Day, he said. Sapper Steven Marshall’s death in Afghanistan on Oct. 30 brought the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 133, since their mission began in 2002.

“I think the tragic loss of life in Afghanistan is part of it, but also there’s an awareness that there are men and women out there who are choosing to serve their country and making the ultimate sacrifice,” Chalifoux said.

Legally enforcing a moment of remembrance didn’t quite sit right with one organization that represents Canada’s veterans.

“We don’t need to legislate this,” said Don Leonardo, 48, a spokesman for Veterans of Canada, who comes from a family of three generations of Canadians who fought in wars. Leonardo served as a peacekeeper in former Yugoslavia, while his grandfather and father served in both world wars.

“We need to remember our soldiers have fought for freedoms – freedom of the press, freedom to enjoy the Olympics or the freedom to protest them, and the freedom to observe two minutes of silence.”

Overall, 85 per cent of Canadians said they will observe the tradition. Quebec had the lowest response, with two thirds of Quebecers saying they will stop for two minutes to honour soldiers who have fought for Canada.

Fifty per cent of Quebecers believe that two minutes of silence should be made mandatory for individuals, schools and workplaces, compared to 71 per cent Canadians overall who think so, the poll results suggested.

The survey has an estimated margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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