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Majority of Canadians support airstrikes against Islamic State: Ipsos poll

Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians support sending Canadian fighter jets to support the U.S.-led coalition of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, according to an exclusive Ipsos poll conducted for Global News.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remains steadfast in keeping an election promise to withdraw Canada’s CF-18s from the international coalition, the new poll found the majority of Canadians support the use of fighter jets.

The poll, released one week after the terrorist attacks in Paris found strong support for Canada’s involvement across all provinces with Albertans showing the most support with 81 per cent in favour of the airstrikes. Quebec had the lowest approval with 64 per cent.

While there exists strong support for the current air-strike mission, Canadians are split on whether Trudeau should keep his election promise to end the mission: 52 per cent agree the prime minister should ‘stay committed to his campaign promise to remove Canadian CF-18 jets from the airstrike mission against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria,’ while 48 per cent ‘disagree.’

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Darrell Bricker, the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, says the divide shows how the new government can face the challenges of keeping promises made during an election even if public opinion has changed.

“The election led to a promise because of what was going on in the election that now has to be delivered,” said Bricker. “It is no longer a promise it is a reality… I have to deliver on it because I promised it.”

READ MORE: NATO general says military alliance needs to do more to combat Islamic State

Walking the fine line between keeping election promises and doing what’s best for the country will be difficult for the Liberal government, said Bricker.

“[Trudeau] has to finesse his way into keeping his promise, but also recognized that Canadians want to be involved which is what he’s being trying to do,” he said.

When it comes to the notion of sending troops into a combat mission against ISIS, the poll shows 62 per cent ‘support the use of Canadian Forces on the ground.’

And more Canadians think a terrorist attack in Canada is increasingly possible, according to a separate Ipsos poll. The survey of just over 1,000 people in the Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom found the threat of terrorism has risen by double digits in the last month.

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Seventy-five per cent of Canadians believe the threat of a terrorist attack was real. That’s up 14 points in October. In the U.S. the number rose by 10 points to 91 per cent, and in the U.K was 95 per cent.

Trudeau said at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation leaders’ summit Thursday that Canada will do “more than its part” and remain a strong member of the campaign against the Islamic State group. The prime minister reiterated his promise to Canada’s CF-18’s and replace them with a force of military trainers on the ground in Iraq.

READ MORE: Will the UN Security Council unite to fight ISIS? What would that mean for Canada?

Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan addressed the new poll numbers at the Halifax International Security Forum where he said “each nation has its own skill set” to bring to the coalition fight against ISIS.

“We are very mindful of our responsibility with the coalition and the decision that we do make will be in a responsible manner,” said Sajjan. “We are doing a readjustment. Making sure that the contribution that we do provide will have a meaningful impact.”

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll was conducted between Nov. 17 and 19, with a sample of 1,002 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel and is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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*Editor’s Note: An earlier version had incorrectly stated Atlantic Canada had the lowest support for air strikes. It was in fact Quebec with 64 per cent.

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