Canadians Split When Assessing the Military Mission in Afghanistan

More than a third of Canadians think three successive federal governments provided little information about the war.

Vancouver, BC [September 1, 2020] – Canadians are divided in their analysis of the country’s participation in the military operation in Afghanistan, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 43% of Canadians think the country made a mistake in sending military forces to Afghanistan, while 39% believe it did the right thing.

Canada participated in the military effort in Afghanistan from October 2001 to March 2014. More than 40,000 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were mobilized during the deployment, which led to the deaths of 158 Canadian soldiers and seven Canadian civilians.

More than two-in-five Canadian men (42%) believe Canada took the right course of action in committing troops to the military effort in Afghanistan, but only 37% of women share the same point of view.

On a regional basis, more than half of residents of Alberta (55%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (51%) think Canada did the right thing in sending troops to Afghanistan. Fewer Atlantic Canadians (43%), Ontarians (35%), British Columbians (also 35%) and Quebecers (34%) concur.

Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2019 federal election are more likely to believe that Canada made the right decision in joining the military effort in Afghanistan (47%) than those who voted for the Liberal Party (40%) or the New Democratic Party (NDP) (also 40%).

While 42% of Canadians feel they have a clear idea of what the war in Afghanistan was about, a slightly larger proportion (46%) do not.

“The perceptions of Canadians on the rationale for war in Afghanistan vary with age,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely to say they do not have a clear idea of what the conflict was about (51%) than their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (44%) and aged 18-to-34 (45%).”

More than a third of Canadians think the federal government provided too little information about the war in Afghanistan during the tenures of Jean Chrétien (38%), Paul Martin (41%) and Stephen Harper (46%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from August 21 to August 23, 2020, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:
Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.