Thursday, November 27, 2014

Poll reveals Canadians reluctant to send troops into combat after Ottawa shooting

ISIS airstrikes in Iraq - Canada
A Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 fighter jet in Kuwait taxis to takeoff for a mission over Iraq during Operation Impact on Nov. 9, 2014. (Canadian Forces Combat Camera / Department of National Defence)
Josh Elliot | CTV
Most Canadians remain focused on the economy and job market, and have little appetite for sending troops to fight Islamic State militants overseas after the extremist-inspired attack on Ottawa last month, a new poll reveals.

The Nanos poll released Wednesday shows a majority of Canadians oppose sending ground troops to Iraq and Syria to battle ISIS, but are more comfortable with involvement that does not mean sending soldiers into active combat.

That includes such measures as providing humanitarian aid, supporting allied countries in a non-combat role and even deploying fighter jets to help in airstrikes on Iraq, according to the poll.

However, 72 per cent of Canadians are also more likely to vote based on the current government’s employment and economy record than on its foreign policy activities, the poll shows.

It also shows Canadians have let up a bit on their desire to only provide humanitarian aid after the Oct. 22 attack on Parliament Hill, according to statistics from mid-October and mid-November.

The Nanos report compares data from two sets of samples, both involving 1,000 random Canadians responding to the same questions. The first set of questions were asked in October ahead of the Parliament Hill shootings, and then again in mid-November.

It found that support for Canada’s foreign policy options in Iraq and Syria went largely unchanged after the Ottawa attack, except in terms of offering non-combat military or humanitarian support.
The percentage of respondents who said they would support or somewhat support offering only humanitarian aid to Iraq and Syria remained unchanged at 59 per cent for both October and November.

However, respondents wavered a bit in their convictions.

In October, 38 per cent of respondents fully supported providing only humanitarian aid, while 21 per cent somewhat supported it. In November, the number of full supporters dropped to 32 per cent, and those who somewhat supported humanitarian aid rose to 27 per cent.

Additionally, 41 per cent of respondents supported and 33 per cent somewhat supported providing non-combat military support to allies fighting ISIS, when asked in November. That was down from October’s responses, when 49 per cent supported and 27 per cent somewhat supported a non-combat role.

When respondents were asked their degree of support for deploying Canadian troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, about six of every 10 respondents said they oppose or somewhat oppose such an action. In both cases, about 40 per cent of respondents said they fully oppose the idea.

Canadians were largely consistent in their majority support for sending Canadian fighter jets to participate in airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. About one in six respondents (65 per cent) said they support or somewhat support deploying fighter jets to support the U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq, when asked in October. The number was largely unchanged (66 per cent) in November.

Stephen Harper’s majority Conservative government pushed through a bill in early October to see Canada join the airstrike campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq. The Opposition New Democrat Party and the Liberal Party voted against the motion.

The Nanos survey is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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