Canadians Split On Afghan Mission Extension

The latest Angus Reid poll samples opinion on the Afghanistan extension. The numbers are interesting, we see better support for a strictly non-combat role, relative to the present mission, but Canadians remain divided:

 48% agree with the decision to keep 950 soldiers in Afghanistan until 2014 in a strictly non-combat role to help train the Afghan military; 44% disagree

 56% (+1 since October) oppose the military operation involving Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan; 36% (+1) support it

You see a 12% increase in mission support, when the distinction between military and non-combat is made. We can all debate the practicality of that distinction, but Canadians are clearly more comfortable with a non-combat role, relative to the present mission constitution. However, despite the increased support, Canadians are still equally divided. Regionally, resistance to any extension is strongest in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, in every other region a non combat role achieves at least plurality support.

One noteworthy finding, Canadians aren’t happy with the amount of information the government has provided on this file. Of the 85% who gave an answer, 56% felt the federal government has provided "too little" information on the mission. The amount that feel the government has been open is below the number that supports a military mission.

It’s hard to say what these poll means politically. Regionally, it’s a mixed bag, but it’s also true that the NDP have a wide swath of voters who support their position, there is no split, as is the case on the other side. But, it is also true that Canadians are more amenable to this type of extension, whether it is a ballot issue remains to be seen. Personally, I think the issue will fade to the background for the mainstream voter, now that we have a perceived direction. Of course, this opinion could change if we see casualties in this supposed non-combat role. 

Click HERE to read more from Steve Val

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