Friday, April 23, 2010

Opposition to Afghan War Hardening

On Wednesday, Angus-Reid released its latest poll on the war in Afghanistan. More and more people are beginning to oppose our role there.Whereas support of the war was at 47% in February, Angus-Reid has found that support for the "military operation involving Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan" has dropped to only 39%. Opposition is now at 56%.

Support comes mostly from Atlantic Canada (54%) and Alberta and the Prairies (50%). Opposition is strongest in British Columbia (56%) and Quebec, where fully 75% of people oppose our military operation in the Central Asian country.

Forty-two percent of Canadians now believe that sending troops to Afghanistan was a mistake (62% in Quebec) while only 36% believe it was the right thing to do (54% in Atlantic Canada). A good portion remains undecided, which is probably the safer place to be. How things will turn out in Afghanistan remains to be seen, though with the trouble that country has had for all of its history, it is hard to believe things will get much better.

Undoubtedly, the recent Afghan detainee issue and the government's refusal to release all documents about it has played a role in this souring of opinion.A majority of Canadians, or 53%, believe that the federal government has provided too little information about the war. Only 33% believe the government has provided too much or the right amount.

While the detainee issue is a factor that won't be going away any time soon, our role in the country is not going to be an electoral issue. All parties agree that our soldiers will be pulled out soon, so there is no ballot question where we must decide whether we want to stay or go.

It would be interesting if one of the pollsters would survey the public's perception of how the various parties stand on the issue. The Conservatives have committed to pulling out in 2011, but do many Canadians believe the Tories support extending the mission? Are they aware of the NDP and Bloc's adamant opposition? If the public is well-informed about each party's stance, then the Afghan War is removed as an electoral issue. But if they aren't...