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(07/17/07) -

Few Canadians Want Afghan Mission Extended

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Few adults in Canada believe their armed forces should remain in Afghanistan beyond February 2009, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. Only 16 per cent of respondents think Canada should extend the military mission, and 49 per cent believe Canadian troops should be withdrawn from the area before the mandate ends.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Few adults in Canada believe their armed forces should remain in Afghanistan beyond February 2009, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. Only 16 per cent of respondents think Canada should extend the military mission, and 49 per cent believe Canadian troops should be withdrawn from the area before the mandate ends.

Afghanistan has been the main battleground in the war on terrorism. The conflict began in October 2001, after the Taliban regime refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four airplanes on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

At least 625 soldiers—including 66 Canadians—have died in the war on terrorism, either in support of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom or as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 58 per cent of respondents believe Canada is shouldering too much of the burden of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, and 39 per cent think the Afghan people are clearly benefiting from Canadian efforts in their country.

Canadians renewed the House of Commons in January 2006. The Conservative party—led by Stephen Harper—received 36.3 per cent of the vote, and secured 124 seats in the 308-member lower house. Harper leads a minority administration after more than 12 years of government by the Liberal party.

In May 2006, the House of Commons extended Canada’s mission in Afghanistan until February 2009. 52 per cent of respondents perceive the endeavour as a war mission, and only 19 per cent think the Harper government has effectively explained the mission in Afghanistan.

On Jul. 10, Harper discussed the current state of affairs, saying, “I think Canadians are expecting that if we’re in Afghanistan after 2009, it would be a new mission. Canadians have been fairly clear that if we were to be in after 2009, that they would expect our participation to evolve in some way. The truth of the matter is NATO still is not putting in near the amount of forces that are necessary to really bring permanent stability to Afghanistan. Canadians have been clear they want to see a more equitable burden-sharing in Afghanistan.”

Polling Data

Do you agree or disagree with the following statements:?
(“Agree” listed)

Jul. 2007

May 2007

Apr. 2007

Canada is shouldering too much of the
burden of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan

58%

55%

64%

Canada should withdraw its troops
from Afghanistan before their mandate
ends in February 2009

49%

50%

52%

The Afghan people are clearly benefiting
from Canadian efforts in their country

39%

43%

38%

The Harper government has effectively
explained the mission in Afghanistan

19%

23%

23%

Canada should extend the mission in
Afghanistan beyond February 2009

16%

n.a.

n.a.

In your view, is the Canadian mission in Afghanistan…

Jul. 2007

May 2007

Apr. 2007

A peace mission

28%

30%

31%

A war mission

52%

49%

57%

Not sure

20%

22%

12%

Source: Angus Reid Strategies
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,113 Canadian adults, conducted on Jul. 9 and Jul. 10, 2007. Margin of error is 2.9 per cent.

Complete Poll (PDF)