More Canadians want Ukraine to keep fighting than seek deal — but not by much: poll

Click to play video: 'Growing divide in Canadian support for Ukraine tied to political affiliation, poll suggests'
Growing divide in Canadian support for Ukraine tied to political affiliation, poll suggests
WATCH ABOVE: Division is growing among Canadians in their support for Ukraine, nearly two years into its defence against Russia's full-scale invasion. As David Akin explains, a new Ipsos poll suggests Canadians' feelings could be tied to their political affiliation. – Feb 6, 2024

A plurality of Canadians say Ukraine should keep fighting against Russia’s invasion but one third say the country should negotiate a peace deal — even if it means giving up land, according to a new poll as the war nears the two-year mark.

Almost 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed by Ipsos in the poll exclusive to Global News said Ukraine should keep fighting. But 30 per cent said Kyiv should broker a settlement to the conflict, even one that includes ceding territory currently occupied by Russia. The remaining 31 per cent of respondents said they don’t know what should happen next.

“They’re not that far apart,” said Sean Simpson, vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs, of the poll results.

“We’re at two years now, there seems to be a bit of a stalemate, nobody seems to be budging. And so (Canadians are asking), how long is this situation going to continue?”

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The poll, which surveyed 1,001 Canadians across the country last month, found that while a majority of Canadians still support Ukraine and the federal government’s continued aid, that support is lower than it was in 2022 after Russia first invaded.

Just 54 per cent of those surveyed said they still closely follow news about the war — down from 74 per cent in 2022 — while 58 per cent said they are still just as concerned as they were when the invasion began, though that has dipped seven points from a year ago.

Meanwhile, the number of people who said Canada cannot afford to continue to help Ukraine financially, given the current economic crisis at home, rose to 54 per cent, up from 48 per cent last year and 45 per cent in 2022.
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Simpson said unlike two years ago, when Ukraine dominated the news headlines, the war has been overshadowed by the Israel-Hamas conflict that began in October — not to mention mounting concerns over the cost of living, crime and immigration in Canada.

“This is the definition of a polycrisis,” Simpson said.

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“There are so many things that Canadians have to worry and think about that the ones that are just geographically further away, such as Ukraine, are less top-of-mind than they used to be.”

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That may also explain why nearly a third of Canadians surveyed said they couldn’t decide if Ukraine should keep fighting or settle with Russia, he added, along with how little movement there has been since last spring on the front lines of the war. Very little territory has been captured or liberated by either side, leading many analysts to predict a stalemate is setting in.

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“There doesn’t seem to be an easy way out militarily for either country, so what will the solution be?” Simpson wondered. “I think a lot of Canadians … are shrugging their shoulders and saying, ‘Well, I’m not the person to figure that out.'”

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Canada has signalled it isn’t wavering in its support for Ukraine. The government announced new military donations last month, bringing its total contributions in military aid since the war began to $2.4 billion. Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly just returned from her latest trip to Kyiv, where she announced Canada’s participation in an international coalition to find and return Ukraine children forcibly deported to Russia.

But Canada’s aid to Ukraine is just a fraction of the total committed by Western allies, who have faced political headwinds as they seek to advance new rounds of funding and equipment. The European Union last week finally broke through a lengthy impasse with Hungary to commit another 50 billion euros in financial aid through 2027.

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The world’s top donor by far – the United States – ran out of congressionally-approved funds that have been used to supply Kyiv with weapons, including air defence systems, in December. Efforts to approve another US$60 billion in aid have been stalled in Congress over Republican demands to pair the aid with immigration policy changes. A bipartisan negotiated deal was announced on Sunday but is at risk of collapsing due to conservative opposition, making the Ukraine aid’s path forward unclear.

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Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby again underscored the effects the stalled aid is having on the Ukrainian war effort.

“We know for a fact that some of their battlefield commanders on the ground are making tough decisions about how many munitions they’re going to fire on a given day at a given target, how many do they have to keep back,” he said. “They’re making operational maneuver decisions based on their ability to continue to support the troops going forward in the field. So they’re in a tough position.”

Republicans in Congress have pointed to souring sentiments among their voters over continued U.S. aid to Ukraine as a reason to pause or halt additional funding. The Pew Research Council found in December that nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the U.S. is giving too much aid to Ukraine, compared to just 16 per cent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters who say the same.

The Ipsos poll suggests that the party-line split over Ukraine is bleeding into Canada as well. Among Liberal supporters, 55 per cent said Ukraine should keep fighting, while only 24 per cent said they would rather see a negotiated settlement with Russia. That sentiment flips among Conservative voters, although the split is more even with 40 per cent supporting a peace deal compared to 36 per cent who want to see the fight continue.

“Historically, right-leaning parties … are more hawkish and progressive parties are more dovish,” Simpson said. “Here we’ve got a reverse situation.”

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These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 19th to 22nd, 2024, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

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