do canadians support a war against isis? not so much.

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Canadians protested in huge numbers, adding their voices to the unprecedented global outcry against the "pre-emptive" war. It was that massive public support - almost statistical unanimity - that allowed Jean Chretien to keep Canadian Forces out of the war. Even Stephen Harper, who as Opposition Leader was as gung-ho as any Connecticut Cowboy, has since admitted that the war was "absolutely an error". What's more, even most USians now agree that other countries, such as Canada, were right to not support the invasion.

Now, we're told, it's different. ISIS, we're told, is an evil so great that only a war can stop it. It's déjà vu all over again. The mainstream media would have us think that every right-thinking Canadian is behind this war. Are they?

A recent Angus Reid poll showed that "two-thirds of Canadians support some involvement in American-led action against ISIS," but digging deeper reveals Canadians are less than keen. First, there is a distinction between “military advisors” (38% support) and “military intervention” (28%). An Abacus Data poll turned up 54% in support of "sending Canadian special forces to serve as military advisors to Kurdish forces who are fighting in Iraq to stop ISIS”, but only 16% responded that they "strongly support" sending advisors.

In a Forum Research Poll, those who think Canada has strategic interests in Iraq, and those who also think “these strategic or national interests” are “worth sustaining Canadian casualties” amount to an underwhelming 17%.

In the Abacus Data poll, 52% support "the hypothetical situation of Canada sending jet fighters to Iraq to help American efforts there", while 34% are opposed. Yet only 45% agree with “what prime minster Stephen Harper is saying or doing with respect to the role of Canadian military forces in combating Islamic terrorism"; 32% disagree, and 24% have no opinion. I don't read this as overwhelming approval. I read it as ambivalence, at most. And that's with the current scaremongering hard sell.

It's reasonable to imagine that the longer Canada's military involvement in Iraq continues, the less palatable Canadians will find it. Once again, I bring you former prime minister Jean Chretien to read the situation for us. When he said Canada was "all in" in Iraq, he wasn't praising Harper.
"They are part of it. It is a done deal. They said yes to the coalition and they sent soldiers," Chrétien told Evan Solomon on CBC Radio's The House, referring to the Harper government's decision. . . . "I hope they did not make a mistake. They are part of it. You know, I find it a bit unusual that they are part of it and then they say we're not quite part of it," he said.

"The other side knows we are part of it. Of course if they refuse to act, the partners will say you are not keeping your word," Chrétien said. "You cannot be a little bit in it. You're in it or out."

"You have only to [look at] the way the Americans got involved in Vietnam. They started with a few advisers," he said.

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