Mission against ISIS: Three-in-five Canadians say government should maintain or increase bombing

Polarized politics drive divided opinions; ½ Liberal voters prefer option other than Trudeau plan


November 19, 2015 – The aftermath of the attack on Paris sees Canadians increasingly reticent about the Trudeau government’s vow to pull fighter jets out of the US-led bombing campaign against ISIS.

Indeed, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Canadian adults say they want their federal leadership to either maintain the status quo – that is, continue bombing and training of local forces by Canadian troops – or, increase this country’s involvement in the mission – both bombing and training.

These are among the findings of the latest public opinion poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute canvassing views in Canada on the mission and the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Key Findings:

  • On the mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – three-in-ten Canadians (29%) say the attacks on Paris should have “no impact” on the Trudeau government’s plan to end Canada’s bombing mission, but continue training
  • The rest say this country should stick to current involvement, including bombing (29%) or increase involvement (33%)
  • In the wake of the Paris attacks – a plurality of Canadians (46%) also say the deadlines for Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan should be extended, to allow more time for security checks

ISIS Mission – what should Canada do?

The Angus Reid Institute has been canvassing general opinion on Canada’s mission against ISIS since it began (for historical results – please visit www.angusreid.org).

That said, the Liberal plan to pull Canada’s CF-18’s from the theatre of war, but keep Canadian troops in the region to train local forces enjoyed the support of just over half of people in this country when they were asked about it late last month, just prior to the swearing-in of the Trudeau government, with a significant segment of two-in-five (38%) opposed.

Circumstances have changed drastically in the weeks since however, as has Canadian opinion. Presented with four options on the combat mission – respondents are near equally divided between sticking to the Trudeau plan, keeping the status quo, or increasing involvement in both combat and training, with a minority opting to end the mission altogether:

canada isis mission poll

Thus, less than one-third (29%) say the Trudeau government should go ahead with its promised strategy to end the bombing but keep up the training.

By contrast – nearly two-thirds (62%) want to either maintain the mission as it stands today (29%) or respond to French President Francois Hollande’s call for a “single coalition” to fight ISIS in the wake of the attacks by increasing both bombing and training.

Political Views Drive Divides

Unsurprisingly, is it those who cast ballots for the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) on Oct. 19 who are most hawkish in their view, choosing the option to step up combat and training involvement by a margin of more than two-to-one over past Liberal (LPC) and New Democratic (NDP) voters. Conversely, past LPC and NDP voters prefer the Trudeau plan nearly seven-to-one over Conservatives.

paris attack canada

It is notable, however, that roughly half (49%) of the Liberal voters who delivered Justin Trudeau a majority mandate now support either a maintaining of the mission as-is (26%) or an increase in involvement (23%). Also of note – the second highest level of support for a stepping-up of the combat and training mission is found in Atlantic Canada, a region the LPC swept on election night:

polling canada

Refugee policy – greatest support for extended timeline

The Paris attacks have also led to calls from many Western politicians – including Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and more than two-dozen U.S. governors – to slow down the process of resettling Syrian refugees.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far resisted this political pressure and stuck to his campaign promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by Jan. 1 – a promise recent ARI polls have shown a majority of Canadians oppose.

In this survey, respondents were asked specifically about the ISIS attacks in Paris and what effect, if any, they ought to have on Canada’s refugee resettlement plan.

The vast majority of Canadians believe the violence in Paris should have an impact on Canadian refugee policy – just one-in-seven (15%) say the government’s plan should proceed unchanged.

Everyone else expresses a need for some modification, as seen in the following graph:

paris attack canada

Nearly half of the total population (46%) favours accepting the 25,000 refugees the Liberals promised during the campaign, but over a longer period of time to ensure additional security checks. Indeed, a full majority (54%) of those who voted for Trudeau’s party in the 2015 election choose this option.

Another 13 per cent say the government should accept fewer than 25,000, but more than zero. Just four per cent believe the government should take in more than 25,000 refugees because of the terrorism in France.

Click here for the full report including tables and methodology

Click here for the questionnaire used in this survey

MEDIA CONTACT:
Shachi Kurl, Senior Vice President: 604.908.1693
shachi.kurl@angusreid.org

Image Credit – Canadian Forces Combat Camera / Department of National Defence

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