(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – Public support for the military mission in Afghanistan has dropped in Canada, according to a poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion. 39 per cent of respondents support the operation involving Canadian soldiers, down eight points since February.

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 without evidence of his participation 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 1,720 soldiers—including 142 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).

In November 2009, Canadian intelligence officer and diplomat Richard Colvin testified to a parliamentary committee about a series of memos he wrote between May 2006 and October 2007 warning that Afghan detainees captured by Canadians and turned over to Afghan authorities were being tortured in Afghani prisons. Colvin testified that those memos were ignored until newspaper reports brought the matter into the public eye. Canadian government ministers have dismissed Colvin’s claims as "not credible" and "entirely suspect."

In March 2010, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper discussed the situation, saying, "Truth of the matter is, of course, that Canadian diplomats, Canadian military personnel have at all times respected Canada’s international obligations." Harper has appointed retired Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to review "all relevant documents" pertaining to the Afghan detainee controversy.

On Apr. 19, Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan William Crosbie discussed the future, saying, "The reality in this country is that the crimes have been committed by so many people from many different sides [to the point] where it’s difficult to separate the bad guys from the good guys. Canada has long supported the concept of transitional justice. That is to say, those who have committed atrocities—not just those who are insurgents—but those who may be part of the political process now should, in one way or another, account for their actions."

Polling Data

Overall, do you support or oppose the military operation involving Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan?


Apr. 2010

Feb. 2010

Dec. 2009









Not sure




Source: Angus Reid Public Opinion
Methodology: Online interviews with 1,007 Canadian adults, conducted on Apr. 8 and Apr. 9, 2010. Margin of error is 3.1 per cent.

Complete Poll (PDF)