Canadians and the war: a regional probe.

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Canadians and the war: a regional probe.

Post by piston » Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:33 am

Canadians split on mission, but strongly support troops
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Four in 10 Canadians think it's okay for Canadian soldiers to beat their captives in Afghanistan and nearly two-thirds doubt investigations into alleged detainee abuse will uncover the truth, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll released yesterday.
As three probes into allegations of detainee abuse gear up in both Ottawa and Kandahar, the poll results provide a revealing glimpse of a Canadian public torn over the Afghanistan military mission, yet strongly supportive of the troops.
More than a third (37 per cent) of respondents said they believe Canadian troops "are involved with torturing" prisoners.
They were asked last week, just days after General Rick Hillier, the Chief of Defence Staff, and the independent Military Police Complaints Commission announced multiple investigations into allegations that detainees were abused by Canadian troops in April, 2006.
The poll found Canadians have little faith in the investigations. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63 per cent) rejected the proposition that the investigations "will really find out what happened."
"There's a general skepticism in the public," said John Wright, an Ipsos-Reid senior vice-president.
A decade ago, an inquiry into the torture and killing of a defenceless teenager by elite Canadian paratroopers was cut short by the government, but Mr. Wright doesn't think that debacle affects current opinion. "I'm not sure people recollect Somalia," he said.
Neither the allegations of abuse, its acceptance among many Canadians, nor the widespread doubts about the investigations have shaken the overwhelming support of 86 per cent of respondents who say the "military is doing a good job in Afghanistan."
Yet the country is sharply divided over what's acceptable behaviour in a war zone.
Sixty-four per cent of Albertans, more than twice the 27 per cent of respondents in Quebec, agree with the proposition: "I don't have a problem with our Canadian troops roughing up or manhandling combatant and Taliban prisoners because it's a war zone." The national average was 39 per cent.Whether Canada should have a war-fighting military also cleaves the country.
Quebeckers, whose mostly French-speaking Royal 22nd Regiment is just arriving in Kandahar ahead of what is expected to be months of renewed fighting against a resurgent Taliban, want most strongly (71 per cent) to scrap any combat role for the Canadian Forces.
If the Vandoos start taking casualties, anti-war sentiment in Quebec may harden.
By contrast, only four in 10 Albertans want a "peacekeeping only" military.
The national average among the more than 1,000 respondents to the Ipsos-Reid poll was 58 per cent favouring only peacekeeping.
On the overriding issue of whether it's time to pull out of Afghanistan, the country remains evenly split, as it was in previous Ipsos-Reid polls.
Again, Albertans and Quebeckers are on opposite sides of the issue: 65 per cent of Albertans want Canadian troops to fight on while 60 per cent of Quebeckers want to "abandon this mission."
Nationally, the split was 51 per cent in favour of staying and 49 per cent backing a pullout, well within the poll's 3.1-per-cent margin of error.
"It hasn't really varied much over the years," Mr. Wright said.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)


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