Most Canadians disagree with Trudeau's plan to withdraw CF-18s, poll suggests

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led bombing mission against ISIS by the end of March, a majority of Canadians disagree with the move, according to a new poll released Saturday by the Angus Reid Institute.

Half say pulling fighter jets in fight against ISIS would harm Canada's international reputation

Almost two-thirds polled say the danger posed by ISIS is growing, which could explain the wide support for keeping CF-18 fighter jets in bombing missions against the militant group. (David McNew/Getty Images)

A new poll suggests that majority of Canadians disagree with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pledge to withdraw Canada's CF-18 fighter jets by the end of March from the U.S.-led bombing mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

When asked what Canada's role should be in the fight against ISIS, only 27 per cent told the Angus Reid Institute that they were on the same page as Trudeau in wanting to stop Canada's bombing mission and focus only on training local troops in Iraq and Syria. 

Meanwhile, 11 per cent of respondents wanted to stop Canada's involvement in the fight against ISIS altogether.

The majority of Canadians disagreed with the prime minister, with 37 per cent saying the Liberal government should continue the current level of bombing and training provided by Canada, while 26 per cent wanted the levels increased.

Even though the withdrawal of CF-18s was a key issue during Trudeau's election campaign last year, slightly more past Liberal voters were in support of maintaining the current level of Canada's involvement than were in support of withdrawing Canada's fighter jets, at 37 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

Almost two in three of those surveyed – 64 per cent – believe the danger ISIS poses has been "growing," which could explain the majority support for continuing Canada's bombing mission against the militant group.

Canada's global reputation

If Trudeau does follow through with his promise to withdraw fighter jets, almost half of the respondents say the move will damage Canada's standing on the global stage.

When asked what effect, if any, withdrawing CF-18 fighter jets from the ISIS mission would have on Canada's international reputation, 47 per cent of those surveyed said it would have a "negative effect", more than doubling the 18 per cent who said it would have a "positive effect."

Justin Trudeau, left, U.S. President Barack Obama, centre, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon walk together at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 15, 2015. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Although the majority polled prefer a different course of action than the prime minister's in the fight against ISIS, a slight majority said the prime minister's office has what it takes to get the job done.

When asked how confident they were in the Trudeau government's ability to manage Canada's mission against ISIS, 54 per cent responded with either "very confident" or "somewhat confident."

The poll results are based on an online survey conducted Jan. 27-31, 2016, of 1,503 adult Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum.


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