Canadians are still largely invested in Ukraine’s struggle to stop Russia’s invasion and are supportive of Canada’s efforts to help, but that support has dipped slightly since the war began a year ago, a new poll suggests.
The Ipsos poll, conducted exclusively for Global News and released on the one-year anniversary of the invasion, found 65 per cent of those surveyed are just as concerned about Ukraine’s future as they were last February.
But the number of Canadians who said they closely follow news on the war has dipped from 74 per cent in 2022 to 58 per cent now, while those who said the war is none of Canada’s business increased from 20 per cent to 25 per cent.
“It’s not that people have moved away from supporting Ukraine with emphatic opinions. It’s more just a drift,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of public affairs.
Ipsos surveyed 1,350 Canadian adults in mid-February for the poll.
The results are consistent with numbers seen earlier this year in a worldwide poll that surveyed 28 countries on their support of the Ukraine war, which found Canada remained among the most supportive countries one year later.
That poll found Canada was one of only three countries where a majority did not say their government can no longer afford to financially support Ukraine “given the current economic crisis” back home.
However, while the number who agreed with that statement in Friday’s poll was about the same, at 48 per cent, that’s up three points from when Canadians were asked the same question in February 2022.
And although the new poll suggests more people feel Canada is doing enough to support Ukraine — 52 per cent, compared to 48 per cent a year ago — support for economic sanctions on Russia as the most effective way to stop the invasion fell from 59 per cent to 39 per cent.
“As this thing goes on, the emotions tend to get a little less intense,” Bricker said. “The rational part of (people’s) brain starts to kick in a little bit and they start to ask some questions.
“What we’re not seeing here is people moving from the side of saying ‘we support Ukraine’ over to ‘we support Russia.’ We’re definitely not seeing any of that.”
The reality of the war manifested elsewhere in the poll, which found support for the basic ideal behind NATO’s Article 5 — that Canada should support democratic countries when attacked by a non-democratic country like Russia — fell 18 points from 2022 to today. Over 60 per cent of those surveyed still support that principle, however.
The poll also found interest in the war is higher among older Canadians (69 per cent of those over 55), compared to just over half of younger Canadians.
Bricker says that’s likely due to the still-fresh memories of the Cold War in the minds of baby boomers who continue to see Russia as an existential threat. Younger Canadians, meanwhile, have likely shifted their focus to more immediate concerns like the rising cost of living under inflation.
“That threat of nuclear war (from back in the 1980s) … the older population has more experience with this and are much more familiar with it,” he said. “It’s more a part of their worldview, and it’s just a rekindling of those concerns.”
As the world marks the first anniversary of the war, Western governments — including Canada — are reminding people of the stakes of the war and why it remains important to continue supporting Ukraine.
“Canada will continue to do whatever is necessary to ensure that Russia does not benefit from having illegally invaded Ukraine,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Halifax on Thursday.
“The consequences of Canadians not standing with Ukraine, of the world not standing with Ukraine right now, could be devastating and long-reaching for the entire planet.”
Advocates for Ukraine also say they aren’t worried about a decline in support.
“Canadians are where they need to be on supporting Ukraine … which undergirds the political support,” Orest Zakydalsky, a senior policy adviser for the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, told Global News in a recent interview.
Since Russia’s invasion, the federal government said it has committed over $5 billion in multifaceted support to Ukraine, including over $2.6 billion in assistance, more than $1.2 billion in military aid, $320 million in humanitarian aid, $96 million in development assistance and more than $68 million in security and stabilization programming.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 15 and 17, 2023, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,350 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 ± 3.1 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.