Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get to the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: New poll reveals that Canadians are most worried about cyberattacks and home grown terrorism

The number: 

39

Equal percentages of Canadians feel cyberattacks and home grown terrorists are a threat to Canada.

Source: Nanos National RDD Crowdsource survey randomly recruited by telephone and delivered online to 1,002 Canadians. Accurate +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, conducted between April 27-30, 2013.

An exclusive new poll done for Power & Politics by Nanos Research reveals the majority of Canadians believe Canada is a medium or high priority for terrorist attacks. With the biggest threats being from cyberattacks and homegrown terrorists.

Thirty per cent say Canada is a low priority for terrorist attacks, 57.1 per cent said it is a medium priority and 8.1 per cent said it is a high priority.

The poll is a Nanos National RDD Crowdsource survey randomly recruited by telephone and delivered online to 1,002 Canadians. The results are accurate to within 3.1 percentage point, 19 times out of 20. It was conducted between April 27-30, 2013.

mi-nanos1terror

Source: Nanos National RDD Crowdsource survey randomly recruited by telephone and delivered online to 1,002 Canadians. Accurate +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, conducted between Apr. 27-30, 2013. (CBC)

When Canadians were asked what they believe is the greatest threat to national security, the results were surprising and reveal a shift in opinion.

Thirty eight percent of Canadians said cyberattacks against the government are the greatest threat, 38.8 per cent said homegrown terrorists and only 10.2 per cent said foreign terrorists.

mi-nanos2terror

Source: Nanos National RDD Crowdsource survey randomly recruited by telephone and delivered online to 1,002 Canadians. Accurate +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, conducted between Apr. 27-30, 2013. (CBC)

"It's not the old terrorist frame, we're not worried about al-Qaeda. We're worried about Canadians. We're worried about people in our communities. And we're also worried about those elusive invisible cyberattacks," Nanos said.

In the wake of the latest auditor general's report, which revealed the government cannot account for $3.1 billion in anti-terror funding, Nanos suggests the Conservatives have to be careful how they handle this particular issue. While these new numbers reveal Canadians are concerned about terrorism threats, the costs of protecting against those attacks is also a factor.

Part of the Conservative's winning strategy has been about fiscal management and protecting Canadians by being tough on crime and tough on terrorism, Nanos said.

"But the Conservatives have to be careful because, on the one hand, when they say they want to crack down on terrorists, that resonates with Canadians. But then, on the other hand, when we see issues such as spending related to terrorists it can be a mixed bag in terms of what I'll say is a political boomerang, so to speak," Nanos said.

However, with the majority of Canadians believing the country is a high or medium priority for a terrorist attack, it also plays into the Conservative's winning strategy and could explain why the government, and especially Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has attacked Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's comments about the Boston bombings.

After the bombings, Trudeau talked about looking at the "root causes" of the attacks. Harper slammed him for the remarks and accused him of making excuses for the suspects, saying it is not a time to "commit sociology."

"The Conservatives in the past have used wedge issues like this to their benefit, to show the other opposition leaders as weak. And I think that's probably what they are trying to do with Justin Trudeau," Nanos said.

Nanos said the opposition have to come up with a plan and narrative "to show that they are not weak."

"How would they manage terrorism and try to stop terrorist attacks? How would that differ from Conservatives? They need some type of storyline related to that, as oppose to explaining what's happened in the past," Nanos said.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, a research associate professor with SUNY (Buffalo) and a 2013 public policy scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.