Majority of Canadians support using combat ground troops to fight ISIS: Ipsos poll

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets depart after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, over Iraq.
Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets depart after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, over Iraq. THE CANADIAN PRESS / HO-U.S. Air Force, Staff Sgt. Perry Aston

Following a wave of terrorist attacks in western Europe, a large majority of Canadians believe the federal government should to everything in its power to fight the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), including using Canadian soldiers in a combat role in Iraq and Syria, according to a new poll.

The Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News, found 72 per cent of respondents support using Canadian Forces soldiers on the ground to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. A notable 10 per cent jump from a previous poll in November 2015.

READ MORE: What’s safe? European security changes after wave of terror attacks

The new numbers come in the wake of recent ISIS-inspired attacks including the murder of an elderly priest who had his throat cut while celebrating mass in a Normandy church, and the attack on Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France which left 84 people dead.

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Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, says the recent Islamic State attacks in Europe have likely weighed heavily on the minds of the Canadians.

“Canadians get that this is a problem that if it doesn’t get dealt with over there it will find a place over here,” Bricker said. “Even if these attacks are sometimes ‘lone-wolf’ or ISIS-inspired – not directly attributable, but inspired by ISIS – [Canadians] think that the source of the inspiration, somebody needs to do something about it.”

READ MORE: NATO allies approve of Canada’s new plan to fight IS: defence minister

When it comes to how the public grades the Liberal government’s strategy to combat ISIS, Canadians are almost evenly split; 48 per cent say ‘the Canadian government is doing enough to defeat ISIS,’ 52 per cent say otherwise.

Atlantic Canadians were the most likely to agree the government is doing enough at 61 per cent. Fifty per cent of those in B.C. and Ontario said the government was doing enough to fight ISIS. Respondents in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (36 per cent) and Alberta (34 per cent) are much less likely to think so.

The Trudeau government ended participation in the U.S.- led bombings against ISIS targets earlier this year in favour of increased training efforts on the ground, additional Special Forces, and a non-combat air component.

“Our contribution to global efforts to defeat [ISIS] continues to evolve based on Coalition needs,” said Jordan Owens, a spokesperson for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, in an email. “Just two weeks ago … Minister Sajjan announced the deployment of up to 60 CAF health care personnel to lead a new Coalition medical facility in Northern Iraq.
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“Canada is playing a significant role alongside Global Coalition partners to set conditions for the Government of Iraq to achieve long-term success through self-sustainable security.”

READ MORE: 2 new arrests in France linked to Nice truck attack

Bricker said the new polling numbers show the current government’s mission is still unclear in the minds of many Canadians.

“Whereas the other mission under the [Harper government] was pretty obvious, fighter jets bombing targets, this one is a little harder to get your mind around,” said Bricker.

READ MORE: Top Canadian soldier says Iraq army is ‘crushing’ ISIS

Kamran Bokhari, a senior fellow at George Washington University’s extremism program, said while Canadians may want more action from their government it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

“There are so many attacks that are taking place, they feel threatened and they want their government to take action,” Bokhari said. “Canada is a minor player in the western alliance [against ISIS] and I don’t see Canada doing anything unilaterally, anything it will do will be in conjunction with the United States.”
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Bokhari said Canada could play a key role in providing additional in “training and special operations forces” as Iraqi and Kurdish militaries prepare to retake the city of Mosul, a key city in the battle against ISIS.

But Canadians are optimistic about the battle against the Islamic State, with 73 per cent of respondents agreeing that ‘the coalition of allies can win the war against ISIS.’

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.” This poll was conducted between July 27 to 29, 2016, with a sample of 1,002 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval.  In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.


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