It is true however, that francophones and especially independentists are more likely than other Quebecers to strongly oppose the specific right to wear and display religious symbols. So the BQ stands a better chance of making gains from super-politicizing and mobilizing the anti-religious symbol sentiment. But this would be a major gamble, and we all remember what happened to the PQ during the last provincial election in Quebec when it decided to take that risk. Also, the BQ is still badly bruised from being virtually knocked out during the last federal election and it is increasingly evident that their traditional raison d'être will no longer simply do the trick. (No more than two in 10 francophones deem it necessary to have a referendum on sovereignty over the next four to five years. Even the majority of independentists believe that a referendum is not an immediate priority.)
Note too that, in principle, Quebecers are actually more supportive of protecting rights and freedoms than they are of creating a secular state. Nearly half of our survey respondents indicated that they strongly support the protection of citizens' rights and freedoms whereas only 27 per cent said that they strongly supported a secular state. However, Quebecers do place certain rights above others. For instance, 60 per cent of Quebecers strongly support the principle of gender equality, while only 37 per cent strongly support the idea of religious freedom. Still, the findings suggest that Quebecers are more adamant about religious freedom than they are about a secular state. This also applies for francophones. And even independentists are at least as supportive of religious freedom as they are of a secular state.
Consider, too, that very few Quebecers are very supportive of restricting rights and freedoms. Only one in five Quebecers and one in four francophones strongly support restricting government employees, inclusive of health-care workers, teachers, professors and police officers from "wearing or displaying religious symbols." Even fewer still would strongly support restricting such freedoms if doing so were to result in negative consequences, such as job losses or a decline in the economy. The same goes for restricting personal freedoms: very few Quebecers, francophones included, are strongly supportive of restricting the personal freedoms of people from different faiths, such as Christians, Jews, Sikhs and Muslims, from wearing or displaying religious symbols.