Majority of Canadians agree with Canada's support for Israel in war against Hamas: poll

Seventy-one per cent believe a ceasefire should be called for, but 81 per cent believe the first step must be the release of hostages

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A majority of Canadians favour Canada’s support for Israel in its war with Hamas, which most respondents classify as a terrorist organization, according to a new poll for the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

The polling, done by Mainstreet Research, also shows that a strong majority of Canadians believe the government should call for a ceasefire and that the top priority in the war should be protecting Palestinian civilians.

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“The reality is that it’s a very complex issue and of course complex opinions will emerge about these issues. The conclusion I came to was that most Canadians still have shared values when it comes to compassion and empathy,” said Quito Maggi, the president and CEO of Mainstreet Research. “Canadians do have compassion for both sides and are aware of the complexity of the conflict.”

A majority of Canadians, 75 per cent, hold Hamas (33 per cent) or Iran (45 per cent) responsible for the Oct. 7 attack in Israel that left 1,400 people dead and led to Hamas capturing some 240 hostages. In response, Israel declared war on Hamas. The Palestinian health ministry, which is part of the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip, says some 10,000 Palestinians have been killed so far. That figure has not been independently verified.

Most Canadians (76 per cent) classify Hamas as a terrorist organization and another nine per cent say it is a proxy for Iran. Just eight per cent consider Hamas to be freedom fighters.

Overall, 71 per cent of Canadians support Canada calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but 81 per cent say that a ceasefire must start with the return of hostages taken by Hamas.

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Just 18 per cent of Canadians oppose calls for a ceasefire.

New Democrats are most likely to support calls for a ceasefire: 86 per cent support the call, compared to 57 per cent of Conservative voters, 82 per cent of Liberal voters and 85 per cent of Bloc Québécois voters.

When given a choice, 68 per cent said the priority in the conflict should be protecting Palestinian civilians living in Gaza and ensuring they have humanitarian aid, while 32 per cent said retaliation against Hamas should be the priority. Here, there are stark differences between parties: Forty-eight per cent of Conservatives say the fight against Hamas should be the priority, compared to 25 per cent of Liberals, 20 per cent of New Democrats and 18 per cent of Bloc voters.

The war, which has dominated news coverage for the past month, is being followed closely by 66 per cent of Canadians.

Fifty-nine per cent approve of Canada’s support for Israel (only 18 per cent disapprove). At 71 per cent, Liberal voters back Canada’s support for Israel most strongly, followed by Conservative voters (67 per cent) and Bloc Québécois voters (61 per cent). Just 39 per cent of New Democrat voters back Canada’s support for Israel.

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According to statements from the Prime Minister’s Office, Canada’s position is that Israel has the “right to defend itself in accordance with international law,” and that Canada believes Hamas must immediately release all hostages. In a conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed Canada’s belief in international humanitarian law and in “making every effort to protect Palestinian civilians.” Canada’s position, furthermore, is that there is an “immediate need to create conditions for urgent and necessary humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza.”

There is additional nuance within Canadians’ views: Just 14 per cent say Canada should provide unconditional support for Israel, including financial support, and 20 per cent say Canada should take no role in the conflict. Thirty-five per cent support diplomatic intervention, including calling for a ceasefire, and 22 per cent say there should be diplomatic intervention, including calling for humanitarian aid.

“There’s some political danger in taking any stand on this issue right now for most politicians, and any world leaders, quite frankly, I think it’s a very difficult political question to answer,” Maggi said.

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Only 14 per cent of Canadians said that when politicians call for a ceasefire, it makes them view the politician less favourably, 33 per cent said it improves their view of the politician in question and 53 per cent said it has no impact on their favourability.

The polling was done on Nov. 5 and 6, via automated telephone interviews of 1,892 Canadian adults. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 2.3 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

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