54% of Canadians oppose Afghan mission: EKOS poll

A slim majority of Canadians oppose the country's participation in the war in Afghanistan, with the strongest opposition coming from Quebec, an EKOS poll suggests.

A slim majority of Canadians oppose the country's participation in the war in Afghanistan, with the strongest opposition coming from Quebec, an EKOS poll suggests.

The poll, commissioned for the CBC and released Thursday, asked: "Do you support or oppose Canadian military participation in Afghanistan?"

Voters' intentions

'If a federal election were held tomorrow, which party would you vote for?'

  • Conservative: 34.1%
  • Liberal: 32.4%
  • NDP: 15.2%
  • Green: 9.6%
  • BQ: 8.7%

Source: EKOS

Nationally, 54 per cent said they opposed it, while 34 per cent said they supported it, according to the poll. Twelve per cent were undecided.

Opposition was decisive in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada, while Western Canada had a narrower gap between those who support the mission and those who oppose it, EKOS found.

The survey suggests the strongest opposition exists in Quebec, with 73 per cent of those polled saying they didn't support Canada's participation. Fifteen per cent offered their support.

Alberta had the strongest support for the mission, at 42 per cent, while 45 per cent were opposed, the poll suggested. In British Columbia, opposition was at 49 per cent while 40 per cent offered support.

The sample size for Saskatchewan/Manitoba was considered too small to be conclusive.

Opposition was very high among women across the country, with 60 per cent saying Canada should not be involved in Afghanistan and 27 per cent saying it should.

When it comes to political leanings and support for the mission, Conservative voters were on top with 51 per cent saying Canada should be in Afghanistan. Liberal voters were second with 31 per cent, and Green voters were at 26 per cent.

Twenty per cent of NDP voters said they supported participating in the mission, while 11 per cent of Bloc Québécois voters did.

As EKOS was conducting the poll, Britain announced eight of its soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan during a 24-hour period, one of the worst days for British forces since the war started.

Canada's direction

'All things considered, would you say the country is moving in the right direction or the wrong direction?'

  • Right direction: 55%
  • Wrong direction: 34%
  • Don't know: 11%

Source: EKOS

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

"Less than one in three now is in support of the mission. So that is a pretty profound turn around from what we had seen," said Frank Graves, the founder and president of EKOS.

"My sense is that probably there is a growing sense of futility and maybe even despair that we are not going to be successful in pulling off the long-term objectives."

Hours after the poll's release, the Canadian Forces announced the death of the 125th soldier in Afghanistan. Pte. Sébastien Courcy was killed early Thursday morning while on patrol in the Panjwaii district. Two Canadian aid workers and one diplomat have also been killed in Afghanistan.

The mission's combat role is set to end in 2011.

EKOS conducted the poll between July 8 and 14, 2009, surveying 2,713 Canadians from across the country over the age of 18. It's the seventh in a series of weekly polls conducted by EKOS and released by CBC News.

The margin of error for a survey of this size is plus or minus 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Another poll released on the same day suggests 48 per cent of Canadians support the use of Canadian troops "for security and combat efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan."

The Ipsos Reid poll, commissioned for Canwest News and Global Television, also suggested 52 per cent of those polled want the combat mission to end in 2011.

That survey of 1,001 people was conducted between June 29 and July 6, 2009, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.