Half of Canadians disapprove of airstrike on Suleimani; two-thirds say the world is now more dangerous

by David Korzinski | January 20, 2020 9:00 pm

Politics drives opinion: past CPC voters say strike was the right call, most Liberal, NDP voters disagree

January 21, 2020As Canadians continue to grieve for the 57 fellow citizens who were killed when Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was shot down by Iran, they are also expressing opinions about events that occurred in the days leading up to the tragedy.

The results of a new public opinion survey from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute indicate just over half (52%) disapprove of the U.S. airstrike that resulted in the death of a key Iranian general, Qassim Soleimani.

In retaliation for that airstrike, Iran launched ballistic missile strikes on two military bases housing U.S. and Canadian troops. Flight 752 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran’s airport, hours later.

Despite the relative calm that has descended in the Middle East after the U.S.[1] and Iran[2] each claimed victory in the escalating tensions, two-thirds of Canadians (66%) now see the world as a “more dangerous place” after Soleimani’s death.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.


The Suleimani Strike: More than half of Canadians disapprove of U.S. action

Cross-border perspectives

On January 3, United States President Donald Trump authorized a drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassim Suleimani. This event provided the impetus for Iran’s missile strikes on January 8, the evening that Flight 752 was accidentally shot down over the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Related: Flight 752: Canadians don’t believe full and accurate accounting of aviation tragedy will ever be revealed[3]

The investigation into who ultimately shoulders the blame for the plane crash continues, but a majority of Canadians believe the initial strike to kill Suleimani should never have happened in the first place. Half (52%) say that they disapprove of the decision, while three-in-ten approve (30%). One-in-five (18%) are not sure.

American perspectives on the drone strike are more divided. According to a HuffPost/YouGov survey[4], 43 per cent of Americans approve of the decision, while 38 per cent say the opposite. Equal numbers in each country say they do not know whether or not this was the right call by the Trump administration.

US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

The divergence in support for the airstrike largely comes from the difference in those who say they “strongly approve” of the decision. Three-in-ten Americans say this (30%), compared to close to one-in-five (18%) of Canadians. Equal numbers in each country strongly disapprove of the decision: US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

Canadian Conservatives agree with Republicans on strike

Division over the decision to initiate the drone strike in Iraq runs along political lines in both Canada and the United States. In each case, those on the right of the political spectrum are overwhelmingly supportive of the call made by President Trump. In Canada, 66 per cent of past CPC voters approve of it, as do 88 per cent of Republicans in the U.S. On the political left, three-quarters of past Liberal (74%) and NDP (75%) voters disapprove of the decision, aligning them closely with U.S. Democrats, among whom 69 per cent disapprove. US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

Men and women diverge on decision to strike

Older men – those aged 55 and over – are most likely to approve of the decision and are the only age and gender combination that approve more than they disapprove. That said, close to four-in-ten men in younger generations also agree, nearly twice as many as their female counterparts. Overall, 42 per cent of men approve while just 19 per cent of women say the same (see detailed tables for more demographic information[5]):US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

Two-thirds fear the world is now a more dangerous place

Tensions were extremely high in the hours and days after the initial drone strike, as the world waited for Iran’s response. Global leaders called for calm[6] as Iranian officials vowed revenge for the killing of Suleimani. Ultimately, Iran gave notice[7] of forthcoming strikes which did not lead to any American fatalities (though reportedly 11[8] soldiers were treated for concussions and other injuries).

Now, two-thirds (66%) of Canadians believe the world is a more dangerous place than it was before the initial airstrikes, while 14 per cent agree with U.S. officials’ claims[9] that the world is safer.

US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

South of the border, the sentiment is generally the same when it comes to American assessments of their own domestic safety. Ipsos asked respondents[10] in the U.S. if they felt the strike had made their own country safer or more dangerous and twice as many residents feel less safe: US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

Political divide in assessments

Among 2019 voters, those who supported the CPC are divided evenly into three groups. One-third say the world is safer (34%), while a near identical number feel the opposite (35%) or say nothing has changed (32%). NDP voters are most likely to believe that the world is now a more dangerous place, with nine-in-ten (90%) saying this. Liberal supporters are not far behind, with 85 per cent saying the world is less safe: US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

While at least half of all age and gender combinations in Canada agree that the strike has made the world more dangerous, men are three times as likely as women to say that this has made the world safer, and also considerably more likely to say that it made no impact:US Airstrike, Iran, Angus Reid, Angus Reid Institute

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.[11]

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.[12]

Click here to read the full questionnaire used in this report.[13]


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org[14] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org[15]

  1. U.S.: https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-claims-victory-iran-escalation-dire-consequences-2020-1
  2. Iran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNffGVoUKg
  3. Related: Flight 752: Canadians don’t believe full and accurate accounting of aviation tragedy will ever be revealed: https://angusreid.org/flight-752-iran-canada-relations/
  4. HuffPost/YouGov survey: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/iran-soleimani-airstrike-poll_n_5e12c040e4b0b2520d23f372?ri18n=true&guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADHRxb2vgB7CWLOTPgh0uBPdX92erx5pKLFPalmgeiH-etQiAwFCuSPfkF0U0S086FfTOT1A-hgacFUq6zI7kaWgOm0lcSBLb3vUdrhGcGtKPN8nX2MIQi3Ru6Y_ooQu6iPPDXAmOHDIqvq6rKDiXV8Xk9SaTONHMRaezLctU6Ut
  5. see detailed tables for more demographic information: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020.01.15_Iran_Airstrike_ReleaseTables.pdf
  6. called for calm: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/08/world-leaders-react-to-iran-attack-on-us-bases-in-iraq.html
  7. Iran gave notice: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-01-08/iran-s-retaliation-offers-room-for-trump-to-calm-tensions
  8. reportedly 11: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/16/politics/service-members-injured-iran-strike/index.html
  9. U.S. officials’ claims: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-51040867/do-americans-feel-safer-after-soleimani-attack
  10. asked respondents: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2020-01/topline_abc_ipsos_poll_jan_12_2020_0.pdf
  11. click here.: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020.01.15_Iran_Airstrike_ReleaseTables.pdf
  12. click here.: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2020.01.20_Iran-USAirStrike_pt2.pdf
  13. Click here to read the full questionnaire used in this report.: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/2019.01.15_Iran_qnaire.pdf
  14. shachi.kurl@angusreid.org: mailto:shachi.kurl@angusreid.org
  15. dave.korzinski@angusreid.org: mailto:dave.korzinski@angusreid.org

Source URL: https://angusreid.org/us-airstrike-iran/