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Canada

Canadians want Ottawa to maintain current spending levels on Ukraine, survey suggests

OTTAWA — A new survey suggests more Canadians want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to maintain Canada’s current level of spending on helping Ukraine fight Russia’s ongoing invasion, rather than boosting financial support.

Polling firm Leger recently asked Canadians about their country’s presence on the world stage, including Canada’s efforts to assist Ukraine defend against Russia, which began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

A total of 1,521 respondents participated in the web survey from Oct. 20 to Oct. 22. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random samples.

The survey asked Canadians what they thought the Liberal government should do when it comes to providing financial aid to Ukraine. 

According to the results, 45 per cent of respondents said they thought Canada should maintain the same level of spending, compared to 30 per cent who said they thought the federal government ought to decrease it.

Only 12 per cent of respondents answered they thought the federal government should boost Canada’s level of spending, while another 12 per cent said they did not know or refused to answer. 

A regional breakdown shows respondents from Alberta felt the strongest that Canada should decrease its level of spending, at 45 per cent. 

The results broken down by age category also suggest that at 49 per cent, those aged 55 and older most agreed with Canada maintaining its same level of spending 

When it comes to how Canada should be involved in the conflict, 46 per cent of respondents answered they felt it should maintain its current efforts when it comes to humanitarian aid well as military training. That is compared to the 30 per cent of who answered that Canada should increase its humanitarian efforts and 23 per cent who said they felt it should increases its military training efforts. 

Another 20 per cent of respondents say they feel Canada should increase efforts at supplying Ukraine with ammunition and other military supplies, as compared to 41 per cent who said it should maintain current efforts and 25 per cent who said Canada should decrease such efforts 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has visited Ukraine twice since Russia’s February 2022 invasion and as of last month the federal government had committed some $9.5 billion in assistance to the country since then.

This involves some $2.4 billion in military support, including Leopard 2 main battle tanks, armoured combat support vehicles, M777 howitzers and ammunition. Trudeau has also renewed and expanded the Canada-led NATO battlegroup in Latvia aimed at deterring Russian aggression.

The survey also asked respondents about the role that Canada is playing on the world stage. This set of questions did not mention any specific world events, but the survey comes at a time when Canada’s interactions with the rest of the world have been in the spotlight.

This includes Trudeau’s explosive statement in the House of Commons last month that Canada’s national security agencies were investigating “credible allegations” of a “potential link” between India’s government and the fatal shooting of a Canadian Sikh leader in British Columbia.

India’s government, which has denied involvement, moved last week to revoke diplomatic immunity from dozens of Canadian diplomats, resulting in Canada relocating 41 of its diplomats, and their dependants, out of India.

Also last month, Liberal MP Anthony Rota resigned as Speaker for having invited a man who had fought with a Nazi unit in Ukraine during the Second World War to attend President Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s address to Parliament. The man received a standing ovation when he was recognized by Rota, who said he alone was at fault. Trudeau called it “profoundly embarrassing” and ultimately apologized.

The survey shows that 57 per cent of respondents felt Canada should play a more visible role when it comes to the United Nations as compared to 51 per cent who thought it should so do when it comes to foreign diplomacy. 

Forty-eight per cent of those surveyed answered Canada should play a more visible role regarding foreign aid, while 43 per cent said they would like to see a more visible role for military intervention or support. 

Respondents appeared divided on their view of Canada’s relationship with its southern neighbour.

Asked whether being a close ally to the United States helped or hurt Canada on the international stage, 49 per cent of respondent answered it helps, compared to 29 per cent who said it hurts. Another 22 per cent said they did not know or refused to answer the question.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2023.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


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