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Majority of Canadians now oppose Afghan Mission

July 16, 2009

CBC reports today on a commissioned poll by EKOS that 54 percent of Canadians oppose our participation in the war in Afghanistan. The question asked of respondents: “Do you support or oppose Canadian military participation in Afghanistan?” Frank Graves of EKOS states, “The public outlook on Afghanistan has undergone a steady and radical transformation.”

Snapshot of poll: (conducted July 8-12/09 with a survey of 2, 713 Canadians across the country)


54 percent: opposed

34 percent: in favour

Strongest opposition: Quebec – 73 per cent opposed; 15 per cent in favour

Strongest support for the mission: Alberta – 42 per cent opposed; 45 in favour

Key fact: 60 percent of Canadian women polled were opposed to the mission, saying “Canada should not be involved in Afghanistan” with 27 per cent in favour.

Key quote:  “When Canada first sent soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002, public opposition to the mission hovered around 20 per cent, according to EKOS tracking data.”

2002: Canadian opposition: 24%

2009: Canadian opposition: 54%

Total Canadian war dead since mission started: 124 soldiers, two aid workers and one diplomat.

Articles Noted:

The New York Times points to increasing UK criticism of the Afghan War in the wake of the death of eight British soldiers in a 24 hour period in early July, during the time this poll was taken. The Guardian posts a range of interviews from top military experts to leading historians to elected Afghan women on “What do in Afghanistan.”

From a dear friend, P, a great Canadian:

“While returning from the Royal Ontario Museum, we happened upon a police barricade on University Avenue just down from Queen’s Park. A group of people, less than 10, were gathered around. The far end of the street was also blocked off by police, a few fire trucks, and some ambulances, and a slightly larger crowd of perhaps 20 -30 people.

… I asked what was going on, and was surprised at the explanation.

Every Canadian solider who dies in Afghanistan is brought to the Ontario Coroner’s office (which is located in the middle of the cordoned off block) for an autopsy. The body arrives in a motorcade the day following the “ramp ceremony” in Afghanistan.

Since the arrival of the first solider killed in Afghanistan, a practice has developed where police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, a few veterans, and office workers and passersby gather to honour the deceased and his/her family as the motorcade arrives at the coroner’s office.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. corsullivan permalink*
    July 18, 2009 12:48 pm

    I suppose it’s not surprising that public opposition to the war is growing, as casualties continue to pile up (not in a literal sense, fortunately) and the mission grinds on without any obvious improvement in the strategic picture. Still, the US-British offensive in the south might lead to real progress, not to mention Canada’s own new “model village” approach on a more local scale. Then, of course, there’s the small matter of the election in August.

    With all this going on, perhaps the sensible thing would be to take stock in the fall, as the fighting season winds down, and decide at that point whether to push hard against the Taliban or behave defensively until 2011. We’re going to have to leave sooner or later, and it’s really just a question of how much more effort we want to put into improving security and stability before handing things over once and for all to the Afghan government and any allied countries that decide to stick around.

    Some of the recent “UK criticism” of the war is rather persuasive. Adrian Hamilton in the Independent thinks that the objectives of the mission are still too confused, and that fighting in Afghanistan is unlikely to do much to protect the West from terrorist attacks. Matthew Parris in the Times suggests “a careful drawing-in of horns” as an intermediate option between complete withdrawal and further attempts at nation-building. All this should be excellent food for thought in September, when the election will be settled and at least the short-term success or otherwise of the “surge” ought to be apparent.

  2. reneethewriter permalink
    July 16, 2009 8:06 am

    Another Canadian soldier has died in Afghanistan. Details: from CBC online
    A Canadian soldier was killed while conducting operations in the Panjwaii district of Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces said on Thursday.

    Pte. Sébastien Courcy from 2nd battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment, based in Quebec City, was killed in an incident that occurred approximately 17 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City at around 6 a.m., the military said in a statement.

    No other details have been released.

    Courcy is the 125th Canadian soldier to die since the Afghanistan mission began in 2001 and the fifth Canadian soldier to die this month.

    More to come
    The EKOS poll cited in the above article, includes this statement from their website pdf report, from EKOS president Frank Graves: ” ‘Nonetheless, there is little reason to suspect that the Afghanistan mission is an especially heavy load on the Conservative government, since it has already agree with the opposition Liberals to bring the mission to a close in 2011 and the debate has largely fallen out of the media discourse.'”

    I find that latter comment depressing. It’s as if, “okay then, we’re outta there in 2011, so we’ll just bear these losses.” can that be the will of the Canadian public?

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