By Nakshi Pandit
According to the most recent poll, a slim majority of Canadians support Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to send advisory troops to Iraq to aid the fight against ISIS, although the debate may heat up in the new session of Parliament that began this week.
A Forum Research poll conducted on Sept. 7 showed that 54 per cent of Canadians are in support of sending troops to advise the forces in the Middle East in a 10-nation NATO effort to combat ISIS.
Despite the general support, two-thirds of those polled believed military deployment should be debated in Parliament. Supporters of the Conservative Party condone the move, NDP supporters are against it and Liberal supporters are evenly split on the issue, according to the poll.
“They’re thinking that (ISIS) is a threat to Canada and on those grounds they are in,” Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff said to the Toronto Star, about those that took part in the poll.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, sees the logic behind this point of view.
“If it was a group of five people who nobody had ever heard of, who say we’re going to go do something in Canada, then I wouldn’t be so concerned about it, but we’re not talking about five people. We’re talking about this group that is getting all this international attention, that controls an area that is larger than New Brunswick,” he said.
Over the past several months, the Al Qaeda splinter group has declared itself as a threat to “America and its allies” and has beheaded two American journalists and one British man in video taped clips that were posted on the Internet.
Support of the decision to be involved in the conflict might drop if Canada’s role in Iraq takes a more combative turn.
Wiseman said, “I think it is good that Canada is a part of a multinational effort here. The NATO countries are trying to get the Middle Eastern countries to pick up the ball on this and that is a perfectly reasonable claim.”
Carl Hetu, national director for Catholic Near East Warfare Association, an agency that works with Catholic churches in the Middle East, said, “Yes, I think somehow I believe that the Canadian government, or like Obama announced, the idea of not going there with troops is good news. The good news is, let’s equip the local people that need to define themselves, how to run their affairs.”
Mohammed Abuhijleh, a Toronto resident who is of Syrian descent, said, “They (ISIS) don’t represent the people there. They need to be stopped.”
Of the Western countries’ involvement in the area, Abuhijleh said it’s a two edged blade. “It’s one of those things where it’s seen as not our business but if we turn our backs to them, we are turning our backs to the people that are suffering there.”
The Forum Research telephone survey was conducted on Sept. 7 and has a margin of error of three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.