Ipsos Reid

Ipsos Reid

July 16, 2009 06:01 ET

Support for Mission in Afghanistan Holds Steady (48%) But Come 2011

Over 8 In 10 (82%, Up From 77% in 2007) Proud Of Men and Women Who Serve In Canada’s Armed Forces

Attention: News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ON--(Marketwire - July 16, 2009) - Toronto, ON -- Canadians' support for the current mission in Afghanistan is holding relatively steady according to a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Canwest News Service and Global Television. In 2005 support for the Afghanistan mission was at 52% and is now at 48% -- this at a time when the first half of July alone has witnessed 43 coalition troops having died including four Canadians, one Italian, 15 British and 23 Americans.

But what's apparent now is that only 41% of Canadians support any ongoing role-including non combat where training of Afghani troops would continue: 52% are now resolved in their belief that once this commitment is concluded in 2011 it's time for Canada's military role to end and have the troops fully out of Afghanistan (7% are unsure or don't know).

This is clearly a change in support for the policy of Canada being in Afghanistan, not a reflection on the conduct of its Forces: the poll finds that support for Canada's troops has increased by five points since 2007 (77%) to 82% now with Canadians being "proud of the men and women who serve in Canada's Armed Forces." The biggest boost in support has been in Quebec-up an astonishing 18 points from 58% to 76% but countered by a drop in support from 78% to 64% (down 14 points) in Manitoba /Saskatchewan where debate was fuelled in 2008 by the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence which found inconsistent care across the country with wounded Canadian soldiers returning from overseas and not be getting the most effective care. In this context, the downturn in "support" in the Prairies may not be a reflection on the troops themselves but rather in the state of affairs provided to them and their families by the Forces after their return.

Support for Military Mission to Afghanistan Has Remained Relatively Stable Since 2005…

The latest poll has found that one half (48%) of Canadians 'support' (22% strongly, 26% somewhat) 'the use of Canada's troops for security and combat efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan'. By comparison, in January of 2008, one half (50%) of Canadians supported the mission, demonstrating virtually no change in public sentiment towards the mission that expires in 2011.

Conversely, 45% currently 'oppose' (23% strongly/21% somewhat) the mission, down 1 point from last year. Seven percent (7%) don't know if they support or oppose the mission, up 3 points from 2008.

A Majority of Canadians Seem to be Saying "We've done our bit, bring our troops home"…

A majority (52%) believes that Canada should bring its troops home at the end of the mission in 2011, up from 37% (14 points) in January of 2008 and 44% in 2007, clearly indicating that sentiment towards Canada's future in Afghanistan has shifted significantly in the last 18 months.

Whereas in 2008 a majority (59%) believed Canada should stay involved in Afghanistan either by extending our current role and mission as required (14%) or by keeping our troops there but have them do something like train Afghan soldiers or police officers (45%), only 41% now believe that we should extend our current mission (14%) or keep the troops there to help in a non-combat capacity (27%). As such, support for staying in Afghanistan has dropped 18 points over the last 18 months. One in ten (8%) do not know what Canada should do when the current mission finishes in 2011.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted June 29 to July 6, 2009, on behalf Canwest News Service and Global Television. For this survey, a national sample of 1001 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire adult population been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

Afghanistan Support by Key Demographics…

While nearly one half (48%) of Canadians overall support the mission in Afghanistan, some are more inclined to support it than others:

Albertans (62%) are most likely to support the mission, followed by those in Ontario (52%) and British Columbia (50%). A minority of residents in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (46%), Atlantic Canada (39%) and Quebec (38%) support the current mission.

Only 14% of Canadians think we should extend our mission after 2011, a sentiment that does not change significantly across the country. While 16% of respondents in Alberta/Saskatchewan and Manitoba feel this way, only 11% of Atlantic Canadians support an extension

Men (54%) are considerably more likely to support the current mission than women (42%).

It's Time to Bring Them Home…

A majority (52%) of Canadians believe that it is time to bring our troops home in 2011, once our current mission expires:

Six in ten (62%) Quebecers want all the troops brought home in 2011, and a majority of residents in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (56%), and Atlantic Canada (53%) think the same. Fewer British Columbians (50%), Ontarians (47%) and Albertans (41%) think that we should pull out of Afghanistan in 2011.

Women (56%) have a higher propensity than men (47%) to say the troops should come home in 2011.

Over 8 in 10 (82%, up from 77% in 2007) proud of the men and women who serve in Canada's armed forces…

Canadians continue to express positive feelings with regards to the troops representing us. Over 8 in 10 respondents (82%) said they are proud of the men and women who serve in the armed forces.

Those age 55+ were most likely to feel this way (90%) followed by those age 35-54 (84%) and those aged 18-34 (67%).

Albertans were most likely to feel this way with over 9 in 10 (93%) suggesting they were proud of the troops. Support was also high in Atlantic Canada (86%), BC and Ontario (82%). Over three quarters of Quebecers (76%) said they were proud of the troops, while only 64% of those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba felt this way.

Eight in ten men (80%) and women (82%) indicated they were proud of the troops.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002

About Ipsos Reid
Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada. The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country, as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy, including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading global survey-based market research group.

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Contact Information

  • John Wright, Senior Vice President, Ipsos Reid Public Affairs
    Primary Phone: 416-324-2002
    E-mail: john.wright@ipsos.com