Half of Canadians support travel ban to protect Canada from terrorism: poll

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The idea of a ban on people coming from countries affected by terrorism has been an issue in this year’s U.S. presidential election, but it appears half of Canadians are on side with it.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents in an Ipsos poll conducted for Global News strongly or somewhat supported banning people from all countries compromised by terrorism as a means to ensure national security.

Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, told Global News he was somewhat surprised by the response.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has single-handedly created a deep rift in U.S. politics since first calling for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in the wake of a December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

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He altered his wording in his speech during the Republican* National convention, eliminating the word “Muslim” from his rhetoric.

“[W]e must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place,” Trump said in his speech.

Critics of Trump’s plan for a ban, even a temporary one, say the presidential nominee is fueling Islamophobia. The issue was front and centre during the Democratic National Convention, where Democrats and supporters of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton accused him of fear mongering.

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The Ipsos poll did not specify which countries had been compromised by terrorism, nor did it make any reference to Trump’s proposed ban.

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While 22 per cent of respondents to the poll strongly supported and 29 per cent somewhat supported the idea of banning people from all countries compromised by terrorism, 30 per cent somewhat opposed the idea and 18 per cent strongly opposed it.

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The strongest opposition to such a move was in British Columbia, where 67 per cent of respondents indicated their disagreement to the idea. The strongest support for a ban was in Quebec, where 62 per cent strongly or somewhat supported the concept, and Alberta, where 60 per cent of survey participants showed their support.

The poll was conducted between July 27 to 29, during the first days of the Democratic National Convention and a week after the Republican National Convention.

University of Calgary terrorism expert Michael Zekulin said it’s not unexpected that respondents might feel this way given how prominent the issue has been in the media throughout the two conventions and in the days since.

But one of the things people may not realize, he said, is that such a ban isn’t all that easy to put in place.

“It’s not as if you just wave your magic wand and do it,” he told Global News.

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He explained that even if such a bill passed in the House of Commons and the Senate, it would still likely be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court.

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Zekulin also noted the two attacks committed on Canadian soil, in October 2014, were carried out by homegrown, radicalized individuals and not people who travelled to Canada from other countries.

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The poll also asked Canadians whether they supported specific security measures that could target specific communities of people.

A significant majority of Canadians agreed there should be increased security screening for Syrian refugees coming into the country. The Ipsos poll found 83 per cent of Canadians support that measure, even if the government has to slow down the acceptance of refugees.

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The Canadian government has resettled more than 29,400 Syrian refugees since Nov. 4, 2015, according to the Government of Canada’s website. And the pace at which Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada has already slowed significantly since Feb. 29, when the government fulfilled a promise to resettle 25,000 Syrians.

READ MORE: Canadians’ support for taking in Syrian refugees is increasing: Ipsos poll

And without singling out any individual communities, an overwhelming 88 per cent of respondents showed their support for special airport security measures for “passengers who come from communities that are suspected sources of terrorism.”

Bricker said it’s more likely the reactions relate more to the events like last month’s deadly attack in Nice than to xenophobia.

“We’ve been good in terms of being able to prevent these types of incidents in Canada, but you can see if there’s a couple of them there’s potential for it to get really difficult for the government,” Bricker said.

“Everyone does want to have ‘sunny ways,'” he said. “But in defence and security, people in Canada are willing to be pretty tough.”

The poll suggested a majority of Canadians, 60 per cent of respondents, strongly or somewhat agreed the government is doing enough to protect the country from terrorists, but the majority feel there could be further security measures put in place.

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According to the poll, the security measures that a majority Canadians strongly or somewhat supported included putting metal detectors in public places like malls and entertainment venues (71 per cent showed support for the idea while 29 per cent opposed it) and stationing armed guards in such places (56 per cent supported the idea compared to 44 per who opposed it). A smaller majority of respondents — 53 per cent — were in favour of searches of purses and backpacks at public venues.

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These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 27 to 29, 2016, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,002 Canadians aged 18+ Ipsos’ online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. 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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*Please note: An earlier version of this post referenced Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s speech as being at the Democratic National Convention. This post has been updated to reflect that his speech was during the Republican National Convention.

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