The following is a recent poll, indicating that perhaps the real story of Afghanistan is coming through, and Canadians are not falling for the Jack Layton/Gilles Duceppe approach after all (reproduced in accordance with fair dealing laws etc)
Support for Afghan war effort stable, poll reveals Jack Aubry, CanWest News Service
Published: Friday, August 24, 2007 Article tools
Font: * * * * OTTAWA — Canadian support for the military mission in Afghanistan remains surprisingly stable, including in Quebec, despite the loss of three soldiers from that province in the past week, a new CanWest News Service/Global National poll suggests.
Conducted by Ipsos Reid, the poll found 51 per cent of respondents across the country said they support the mission, while 45 per cent oppose it. The numbers remained virtually unchanged from a month ago.
In Quebec, support for the nation’s overseas combat activities actually rose to 35 per cent this week from 30 per cent in July, while opposition dropped to 61 per cent from 65 per cent. The Ipsos Reid poll runs counter to a CROP survey, released earlier this week, which showed an 11 percentage-point increase, to 68 per cent, of Quebecers opposed to their compatriots being involved in the conflict.
The Ipsos-Reid poll was conducted following the death of the first soldier from Quebec’s Royal 22nd Regiment — the Van Doo. Partway through the survey, which ran from Tuesday through Thursday of this past week, two more Quebec soldiers were killed in action in Afghanistan. Both were based at Quebec’s Canadian Forces Base Valcartier. Moreover, a high-profile French-language TV personality was caught in an attack, which seriously injured his cameraman.
John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid, said the slight increase in support for the mission in Quebec captured in his poll may be “a symptom of Quebecers rallying around their own troops in support of their efforts in Afghanistan.”
However, the four percentage-point drop in opposition in Quebec falls within the poll’s margin of error of 6.2 percentage points for the province.
At a red rally for the troops held Friday at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canadian soldiers are involved in a “noble cause” in Afghanistan. Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of the defence staff, told the crowd that Canadian troops believe in the mission in Afghanistan and that public support means a lot to them.
“From the soldiers’ perspective, we do not believe a group of people who will whip women for (wearing) heels that will click on pavement should be allowed to resume control of their country and the lives of those people in it,” said Hillier, referring to the Taliban enemy. Because of the “incredible work” of Canadian soldiers, there are now 6,000 Afghan women in training as school teachers, the general said.
Wright said public opinion on the Afghan mission has held relatively stable, even during periods when Canada suffered serious casualties.
“There’s 24.5 million adult Canadians in this country and we have found that about 12.25 million have supported the mission and 12.25 million have been against it from the beginning. There has not been any drastic swings in support and opposition against the effort,” said Wright.
And, he added, about two-thirds of Quebecers have consistently opposed it. Through both world wars and in more recent history, Quebecers have been at odds with other Canadians over Canada’s military engagements. When Quebecers are removed from the overall numbers, the majority of Canadians (56 per cent) continue to support the Afghan mission, the latest poll confirms.
In another indication of the continuing support for the Canadian Forces, the military exceeded its recruiting goals for the 12 months ending March 31, 2007.
A total of 6,547 Canadians signed up at one of the nation’s 10 recruiting centres, and went through basic training.
That’s 121 more than the target of 6,426, said Capt. Holly Brown, with Department of National Defence’s Canadian Forces Recruiting Group.
“It’s good to have a little extra,” Brown said, “because you never know: someone may decide they don’t want to do it after all, or might not make it through the (basic)_training,”
Respondents in this week’s poll may also have been influenced by U.S. President George W. Bush, who lavished praise on Canada’s war effort following a summit meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and their Mexican counterpart.
The poll reveals that the strongest support for the mission is in Alberta (72 per cent), followed by Atlantic Canada (56 per cent), and Ontario (55 per cent). British Columbia is evenly split, with 49 per cent expressing support while 48 per cent oppose the mission.
Quebec’s Van Doo regiment took command of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 1.
Harper has pledged to withdraw Canada’s combat troops from Afghanistan in February 2009, unless Parliament as a whole agrees to extend the mission. So far, 70 Canadians, including one diplomat, have died in that country since Canada’s military involvement began in 2002.
The poll involved 1,000 interviews with adults. The results are considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.