Support for Canada's mission in Afghanistan has grown...
The online Jan. 8-10 survey of 2,206 Canadians by Innovative Research Group found 58 per cent of respondents support the military action compared with 38 per cent who are opposed.
Sixty per cent, up seven points from October, agreed that Canadians "are providing critical assistance to local Afghans and are trying to create a peaceful and democratic country." Thirty per cent agreed to an opposing proposition that the government is putting Canadian lives at risk for "no apparent reason."
About the same percentage, 58 per cent, agrees with the proposition that Canada should send troops to dangerous, war-torn, underdeveloped countries threatened by "systematic human rights abuses."
Good news for Harper, minus this tidbit:
The Innovative poll shows Canadians are evenly split on whether they respect Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motives for strongly backing and showcasing the troops' efforts.
Forty-five per cent of respondents said they believe the Harper Tories are championing the mission because "they think it is the right thing to do."
But 44 per cent agreed with the statement that the Conservatives are keeping troops in Afghanistan "because they want to make the U.S. happy."
The article makes the point that the rise in support isn't just because of lower casualties, but also because the government has done a better job on messaging. That conclusion is only true in this sense, the absence of casualties has provided a quiet period, wherein the government can argue its case. If we see a return of casualties similar to last fall, Harper can sell forever, it will be overshadowed by powerful imagery. In other words, violence drives support and Harper's effectiveness is tied to this reality.
Canadians want to support a mission that provides "critical assistance" and offers a humanitarian angle. Having said that, I would expect support to slip come the summer, if all the predictions are accurate. This poll also doesn't ask the fundamental questions about our course and the balance of the mission. If you asked the question, should Canada spend 10 dollars on security for every 1 on infastructure(i.e. re-construction, domestic training, government support), you would probably get a better understanding of what Canadians want. Canadians do support the mission, but that doesn't necessarily translate into open-ended support of Harper's approach.