Most Canadians believe that Canada should play a neutral role or completely stay out of the Israel-Hamas conflict, now in its second month, new polling suggests.
Four in 10 (41 per cent) of Canadians said in an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News and released Friday that the country should be a “neutral mediator” in the conflict. Almost a quarter (23 per cent) said that Canada should not be involved at all.
While 18 per cent said Canada should support Israel, a smaller proportion at nine percent said the country should support the Palestinians.
The polling was done between Nov. 14 and 16, before the announcement of a temporary ceasefire agreed upon by Israel and Hamas and which is expected to take effect Friday. Under the terms of the deal, both sides have agreed to a four-day halt in hostilities and for Hamas to release 50 Israeli hostages taken in the deadly Oct. 7 attack in exchange for prisoners held in Israel.
Darrell Bricker, global CEO of Ipsos public affairs, said the polling indicates “a lot of sympathy” for the hostages and for the people who are suffering because of the conflict.
“I think Canadians are not looking at this through the lens of geopolitics,” Bricker said in an interview with Global News.
“They’re looking at this through the lens of a humanitarian crisis and regardless of how we got here, there’s a lot of suffering that’s going on and that’s what really has caught Canadians’ attention.”
Israeli officials say the Oct. 7 attack killed 1,200 people in Israel. The Hamas-run Gaza health authorities say 13,300 people have been killed in Gaza from retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.
There are growing concerns over the humanitarian situation in Gaza as well as the fate of the roughly 250 hostages taken from Israel by Hamas.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has repeatedly been calling for a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting, urged the Israeli government last week to exercise “maximum restraint” in its military operations in Gaza and around the territory’s largest hospital.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying that Israel works to minimize civilian casualties but Hamas embeds itself in the civilian population.
Ottawa has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, though, which a majority of Canadians (81 per cent) in the Ipsos poll said should be implemented immediately.
Almost 70 per cent of the respondents believed there should be a ceasefire but with the caveat that Hamas releases the hostages.
Most Canadians (87 per cent) also said civilians in Gaza should be allowed to flee to a safe country.
“(Canadians) want people to be able to get out of danger, they want those hostages to be released and they want peace to resume,” Bricker said.
A majority of the population (84 per cent) is concerned that the conflict could escalate more broadly in the region, the Ipsos poll showed.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between Nov. 14 and 16, 2023, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18-plus was interviewed. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18-plus been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error and measurement error.
— with files from The Associated Press
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