A clear majority of Canadians say in a new poll that they think the federal Liberals and military leaders are “all talk and no action” when it comes to fixing sexual misconduct in the military.
The Ipsos polling done exclusively for Global News comes one day after Liberal members of the House of Commons defence committee partnered with the Bloc Quebecois to shut down the parliamentary probe into the government’s handling of high-level sexual misconduct allegations.
According to the Ipsos poll, 78 per cent of Canadians say the country’s military has a systemic problem of sexual harassment within its ranks, with 83 per cent of women and 72 per cent of men agreeing.
But the question of whether the Liberals are serious about fixing the problem continues to dog the government as it stretches past two months since it promised an independent review of the matter, and as it has yet to announce any details of how it plans to change the system.
The poll suggests Canadians are taking notice.
“The public has really picked up on the message that there is a problem in the Canadian military with the issue of sexual harassment and it’s not just smoke,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“There’s definitely fire there.”
Across demographic categories, 75 per cent of respondents said the government and military leaders are “all talk and no action” when it comes to dealing with sexual harassment in the Canadian Forces.
“No gender or age group is more likely than another to believe that this problem is not being adequately addressed, speaking to how widespread this sentiment is among the general population,” said Ipsos in its polling results.
Among decided voters, there also appeared to be broad agreement — though those who said they vote Liberal were more likely to feel less strongly that the federal government wasn’t doing enough.
Seventy per cent of Conservative voters said they either strongly agree or somewhat agree that the government and military are “all talk and no action,” with 24 per cent saying the former and 46 per cent saying the latter.
Among Liberal voters, 71 per cent said they either strongly or somewhat agree with the statement, though the strength of those beliefs shifted: 16 per cent said they agreed strongly, while 55 per cent said they agreed somewhat with the statement.
Voters who said they support the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois or the Greens had stronger views with 82 per cent, 75 per cent and 94 per cent, respectively, either strongly or somewhat agreeing with the statement.
Just four per cent of Liberal voters said they strongly disagreed with the statement that the federal government and military are “all talk and no action” on misconduct.
“What the public is saying [is], ‘OK, enough talk, actually do something,'” said Bricker.
“So it’s great that you put all the out all these tweets about how tolerant things are in the military and how much you’re dealing with sexual harassment. That’s not enough anymore,” he added. “I think the events over the last while have demonstrated to Canadians that talk is not going to be enough.”
Twin military police probes are underway into allegations against Gen. Jonathan Vance and Adm. Art McDonald. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has acknowledged a complaint against Vance was shared with him in 2018 but says he refused to look at the details, referring the matter instead to bureaucrats.
The Privy Council Office abandoned a probe into the matter within weeks.
Trudeau has said he personally knew nothing about any such allegations until Global News reported them on Feb. 2, though he has said his office was aware.
The Liberal move to shut down the defence committee came as opposition members were trying to call Elder Marques, senior advisor to Trudeau, to testify on whether he told anyone else in the office after he was informed of the allegation in 2018 by Sajjan’s chief of staff.
The Liberals have ordered political staff involved in the matter not to appear before committees.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 7 and 9, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. 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 ± 3.5 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.