As Trial Looms, Little Change in How Canadians Feel About Omar Khadr

Two-in-five respondents believe Khadr should face trial in Guantanamo; just over a third would repatriate him to Canada.

More than half of Canadians feel no sympathy for the plight of Omar Khadr, but the country is divided on whether he will get a fair trial in Guantanamo, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

Canadians were first introduced to Khadr’s story in 2002, when he was arrested for allegedly killing an American serviceman in Khost, Afghanistan.

A Canadian citizen born in Toronto—who was 15 when the incident took place—Khadr has spent more than seven years imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. His trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 10.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,003 Canadian adults, 43 per cent of respondents believe Khadr should be left to face trial by military commission in Guantanamo Bay.

Just over a third of Canadians (36%) say that the government should demand Khadr’s repatriation and allow him to be tried in Canada.

In February, Canadians were evenly divided on this particular issue. However, in the surveys conducted in May and July, more respondents sided with the idea of Khadr facing trial in Guantanamo.

The only area where respondents are more likely to voice support for Khadr’s repatriation is Quebec (41% to 36%). In Alberta, a majority of respondents (51%) would prefer to leave Khadr in Guantanamo.

Views on Guantanamo and Khadr

Canadians are divided on whether Khadr can actually get a fair trial in Guantanamo, with 40 per cent believing that this will be the case, and 42 per cent disagreeing with this notion. Quebecers (44%) and Atlantic Canadians (also 44%) are more likely to dismiss the possibility of an impartial process in Guantanamo.

More than half of Canadians (52%) say they do not feel sympathy for Omar Khadr’s plight, while one-third (34%) do sympathize with Khadr’s situation.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From July 12 to July 13, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,003 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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