CJPME is delighted to release the results of a Canada-wide survey it has co-sponsored with Independent Jewish Voices Canada, and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel. Conducted by a professional polling firm, Part 1 of the poll results provides important insights on 1) Canadians' attitudes on Israel's annexation of large parts of the West Bank, and 2) Canadians' attitudes on Canada's engagement with the international community.
Part 1 of the survey results, release June 16, 2020, can be found at the following link:
The survey was conducted by EKOS Research Associates between June 5-10, 2020, with a random sample of 1,000 Canadian adults aged 18 and over. The margin of error associated with the in-scope sample is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The raw data from the EKOS poll can be found via the following two links. The first file below contains the "residuals" (i.e. the results including the "no response" and "do not know" answers); the second file contains the stats with the "residuals" removed:
Note that all charts presented on this page are public domain - free of copyright restrictions.
A recent survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates confirms that Canadian foreign policy is out of touch with the preferences of Canadians. The survey sought to probe the opinions of Canadians on international issues of immediate public importance, including Canada’s response to Israel’s recently announced intent to annex additional Palestinian territory, and Canada’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council. The survey demonstrates that a strong majority of Canadians want the government to express opposition to Israeli annexation, including through the imposition of sanctions. It further demonstrates that Canadians want Canada to increase its international engagement on a range of issues, including peacekeeping, combatting climate change, and support for Palestinian human rights.
EKOS Research Associates (https://www.ekos.com/) conducted a national online survey of 1,009 Canadians, between June 5-10, 2020, on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (http://cjpme.org), Independent Jewish Voices Canada (http://www.ijvcanada.org/) and the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine-Israel (http://www.unjppi.org/). The margin of error associated with the sample is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The survey found that Canadians want their government to oppose Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank. A significant majority (74%) of Canadians want the government to express opposition to Israeli annexation in some form. Moreover, 42% want Canada to impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions against Israel. Sanctions against Israel are popular among supporters of the NDP (68%), Green Party (59%), Bloc Quebecois (54%), and Liberal Party (42%).
These results demonstrate that if the Trudeau government wanted to take concrete steps beyond simple statements of opposition to Israeli annexations, there would be considerable support for imposing sanctions from within the Liberal Party, across most of the opposition parties, and generally within the Canadian public.
The survey also found that Canadians are generally supportive of increasing Canada’s contributions to the international community in several specific areas where Canada lags behind its competitors in its campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC):
- A strong majority of Canadians felt the government should increase its commitment to combatting climate change.
- A narrow majority of Canadians felt the government should increase its contribution to international peacekeeping.
- A majority of Liberal, NDP and Green supporters think the government should increase support for Palestinian human rights. Conservative supporters less so.
These results confirm that, by taking further action to improve its international profile, the Canadian government could not only improve its candidacy for a seat on the UNSC, but also respond to the priorities of Canadians.
The results further reveal a notable polarization between supporters of the Conservative Party and everyone else on most issues. This suggests that Canada’s pro-Israel approach to foreign policy is out of touch with the perspective of most Canadians, and is catering to the views of particular political constituencies.
Scope of Part 1 Release of Survey Findings
This report constitutes the first release of results from a June 2020 survey probing the attitudes of Canadians on foreign and domestic policy related to Israel-Palestine. It examines Canadians’ attitudes towards Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council Seat, and Israel’s announcement of plans to annex more Palestinian territory. The results presented in this report constitute only about 25 percent of the complete survey’s findings. In the coming months, the remainder of the survey findings will be released.
EKOS Research Associates (EKOS), an experienced public opinion research firm, was hired to conduct an on-line poll to seek answers to these questions. EKOS is a full-service consulting practice, founded in 1980, which has evolved to become one of the leading suppliers of evaluation and public opinion research for the Canadian government. EKOS specializes in market research, public opinion research, strategic communications advice, program evaluation and performance measurement, and human resources and organizational research.
Between June 5-10, 2020, a random sample of 1,009 Canadian adults from EKOS’ online panel, Probit, aged 18 and over, completed the survey. The survey was made available to all respondents in either English or French. The margin of error associated with the sample is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided.
EKOS statistically weighted all the data by age, gender, education and region to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada, based on 2016 census data.
The survey results presented in this report are with residuals excluded. In the survey data relating to Canada’s engagement with the international community, no more than 7% of respondents checked “don’t know” or didn’t respond and in most cases, fewer than 5% did so. In the survey data relating to Canadians’ attitude on Israel’s planned annexation of Palestinian territory, the residuals account for 14% of respondents. As such, these responses do not substantially affect the overall results.
1. A Strong Majority of Canadians Believe that Canada Should Oppose Israeli Annexation of Palestinian Territory
In early 2020, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his government’s intentions to unilaterally annex huge swaths of the West Bank and all of the Israeli settlements, consisting of territory that Israel has been occupying since 1967. This was codified in Netanyahu’s coalition deal with alternate Prime Minister Gantz, which specified the terms by which Israel could pursue annexation as early as July 1, 2020.
Unilateral annexation is blatantly illegal according to international law. The UN Charter forbids territorial conquest, and dozens of UN resolutions have repeatedly confirmed the international community’s opposition to Israel’s acquisition of territory by force. Moreover, the land slated to be annexed by Israel is considered to be reserved for a future Palestinian state, undermining the possibility of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Annexation would therefore “be a severe body blow to the rules-based international order," says UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, and “would crystalize a 21st century apartheid, leaving in its wake the demise of the Palestinians' right to self-determination. Legally, morally, politically, this is entirely unacceptable."
Israel’s annexation plans are in clear violation of international law and have been opposed by the Palestinians, and publicly condemned by the UK, France, Germany, the European Union, and many other leaders and international bodies. In fact, the European Union is reportedly considering a number of options for sanctioning Israel if annexation proceeds. In opposition to the rest of the world, Israel’s plans are supported by the erratic US administration of Donald Trump.
Annexation also runs counter to Canada’s official and long-held position on Israel-Palestine, which supports a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, with two nations existing side-by-side with peace and security for all. Prime Minister Trudeau has noted his “deep concerns and disagreement” with annexation, and officials have indicated that there is “no chance” that Canada would recognize the annexation. This would be consistent with the fact that Canada never recognized Israel’s annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem (1980) or the Syrian Golan Heights (1981). However, many Canadians have called on Canada to show stronger opposition to annexation. On June 1st, over fifty retired diplomats, ambassadors, and former cabinet ministers, urged Trudeau to start “speaking loudly and clearly on this issue.”
The survey sought to find out what Canadians expect their government to do when it comes to addressing the threat of imminent illegal Israeli annexation of large portions of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.
Canadians were asked the following question:
The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July, 2020. For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people has its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. Of the following options, how do you believe the Government of Canada should react to Israel's plan?
- Support Israel’s plan
- Do nothing
- Express opposition to Israel’s plan, but take no other action
- Impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions on Israel
- Don’t know/No response
The preamble to this question was set up as a split sample, randomizing the order of the two sentences in the preamble:
- Half the respondents had the preamble: “The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July, 2020. For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people has its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour.”
- The other half of the respondents had the preamble: “For years, the Government of Canada has advocated for a peaceful solution between Israel and the Palestinians, where each people has its own country and lives in peace and security with its neighbour. The government of Israel has announced its intention to formally incorporate portions of Palestinian territory into the state of Israel in July, 2020.”
The intention behind this split sample approach was to ensure that any difference in response resulting from the order of the two introductory sentences would not skew the survey results.
Survey Question Results
The results show that Canadians are clearly opposed to Israel’s plans for annexation. The largest number of respondents (42%) indicated they felt that Canada should impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions on Israel. The second largest number of respondents said Canada should express opposition to Israel’s plan but take no other action (32%). Together, an overwhelming 74% of Canadians indicated that Canada should oppose annexation, either through words or action.
Only 11% of Canadians indicated that Canada should support Israel’s annexation plans, and 15% said that Canada should do nothing.
Imposing sanctions on Israel was the clear preference for a majority of those who support the NDP (68%), Green Party (59%), and Bloc Quebecois (54%). Among Liberal party supporters, 42% favour sanctions, while 45% thought Canada should express opposition but take no further action. Only 5% of Liberals want Canada to support Israel’s plan, and 8% would prefer Canada do nothing.
Conservative supporters are the most favourable towards Israel’s annexation plan. Half of Conservative supporters think that Canada should either support Israel’s plan (27%) or do nothing (25%). Another 32% say that Canada should express opposition, and only 16% say that Canada should impose sanctions.
An overwhelming majority of Canadians 18-34 years old want Canada to oppose Israel’s plans: 59% said Canada should impose sanctions on Israel, and another 24% said Canada should express opposition but take no other action. Imposing sanctions on Israel is most popular with Canadians who have higher levels of education, but Canadians of all education levels favoured sanctions over the other options.
There is very little support for Israeli annexation among the Canadian public. Apart from supporters of the Conservative Party, of whom a quarter (27%) want Canada to support Israel’s plan, there is no more than 5% support for annexation within any other political party. In fact, even among supporters of the Conservative Party, almost half (48%) want Canada to express opposition to annexation in some form.
Not only do three out of four Canadians oppose Israel’s planned annexations, but (42%) support imposing diplomatic or economic sanctions against Israel. These results demonstrate that the Trudeau government would have strong majority support if it opposed the annexations, and considerable public support to go further and impose sanctions on Israel. In fact, from a political standpoint, it would be risky for the Trudeau government to stay quiet in the face of this violation of international law planned by Israel.
Canada’s bid for a two-year, temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) comes to a vote on June 17, 2020. Canada is running against Ireland and Norway. Trudeau announced Canada’s candidacy for the position in March 2016, months after winning the federal election and declaring to the world that “Canada is back.” The last time that Canada competed for a seat was in 2010 under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which it lost to Portugal and Germany. Most observers believe that Canada’s previous bid was unsuccessful due to its unconditional support for Israel, cuts to development assistance, and an underwhelming response to climate change.
The weaknesses evident in Canada’s previous bid for UNSC have not been corrected in the decade since. This is most noticeable in the Israel-Palestine conflict, where Canada continues to deepen bilateral ties with Israel despite that country’s brutal and decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territories. While the Trudeau government provides aid to Palestinian refugees, it also provides diplomatic cover for Israel’s abuses against Palestinians.
In voting at the UN, Canada frequently finds itself aligned with Israel, the United States, and a handful of small countries, putting Canada in opposition to the vast majority of the rest of the world. More recently, while Canada waited until June 2nd before expressing disagreement with Israel’s recent plans for annexation, the Foreign Affairs ministers of Ireland and Norway have been speaking out on this issue since at least December 2019 (Ireland) and January 2020 (Norway).
There are several other important areas where Canada’s international reputation does not fare well compared to either Ireland or Norway:
- Canada spends less per capita on foreign aid. In 2019, Canada contributed an equivalent of 0.27% of its Gross National Income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA), while Ireland spent 0.31% of its GNI and Norway spent an impressive 1.02% of its GNI.
- Despite Canada’s history as a champion of peacekeeping, as of March 2020 Canada contributes only 43 peacekeeping personnel, while Norway contributes 66 and Ireland contributes 523.
- The Climate Change Performance Index, which monitors and ranks countries according to indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, and climate policy, rank Norway at 12, Ireland at 41, and Canada at 55 or “very low.”
These are all factors which may influence the vote of UN members in determining whether Canada should have a seat at the table.
This survey question sought to gauge whether average Canadians supported the type of policy changes that would likely improve Canada’s international reputation and lead to a better chance of a UNSC seat. The survey also sought to shed light on two other things, notably 1) how Canadians’ interest in Israel-Palestine compared to their interest in other international files, and 2) how Canadians felt about Canada’s position on Palestinian human rights.
This question took a split sample approach:
- Half the respondents were asked to what degree they agreed with an increase in Canada’s support for an issue, while
- The other half of the respondents were asked to what degree they agreed with a decrease in Canada’s support for an issue.
The intention behind this split sample approach was to minimize the possibility of leading respondents into answering all options in the same way.
The preamble to the question also sought to avoid telling respondents whether a particular response would help or harm Canada’s prospects for a UNSC seat. The question was stated as follows:
Canada is competing for a seat on the United Nations Security Council this year. According to some experts, Canada’s candidacy may be influenced, positively or negatively, by the key factors mentioned below. Using a five point scale, how much would you agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Canada should [increase/decrease] its international development spending
- Canada should [increase/decrease] its contribution to international peacekeeping
- Canada should [increase/decrease] its commitment to combatting climate change
- Canada should [increase/decrease] its support for Palestinian human rights
Survey Question Results
Note: Unless otherwise noted, in the discussion below we have grouped together those who responded “agree” with “strongly agree,” as well as those who responded “disagree” with “strongly disagree.” We have also left out of our discussion those who responded neither agree nor disagree.
More than any other category, climate change received overwhelming support from Canadians. When asked if Canada should increase its commitment to combatting climate change, 63% agreed and 25% disagreed. Notably, the intensity of support is one-sided, as a considerable 38% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, and only 16% strongly disagreed. In terms of demographics, it is notable that 81% of respondents 18-34 years old agreed that Canada’s commitment to fighting climate change should be increased, and women also expressed notably more support than men. This issue was most polarized in the Prairies, where 47% agreed and 47% disagreed. Increasing Canada’s commitment to combatting climate change also received high support from Liberal (77%), NDP (98%), and Green (90%) supporters. However, among Conservative supporters, the statement only had support from 18%, while 64% disagreed.
We found similar results when the question was asked in the opposite way. When asked if Canada should decrease its commitment to combatting climate change, 67% of respondents disagreed, and only 23% agreed. In fact, an impressive 52% of respondents strongly disagreed, while only 14% strongly agreed. (Once again, 80% of respondents 18-34 years old disagreed, as did 77% of respondents from Quebec. Respondents were also far more likely to disagree if they had higher levels of education.) There was overwhelming opposition to decreases from Liberal (86%), NDP (91%) and Green (89%) supporters, with Conservative supporters again proving to be the outliers: only 30% oppose decreases and a majority (52%) support them.
Nearly half of Canadians (48%) agreed with the statement that Canada should increase its contribution to international peacekeeping, while only 24% disagreed. This issue had strong support from Liberal (60%) and NDP (63%) supporters, whereas Conservative supporters expressed far lower support (30% agreed).
When the question was asked in the opposite way, if Canada should decrease its contribution to international peacekeeping, 64% of respondents disagreed, while 19% agreed. Opposition to decreases was particularly notable in Ontario, where 74% of respondents disagreed. The answers also broke down along party lines, as decreases to peacekeeping was overwhelmingly opposed by Liberal (75%), NDP (76%), and Green (78%) party supporters, while Conservative supporters were divided on the issue, with 49% opposing decreases and 31% in support.
Palestinian Human Rights
When asked if Canada should increase its support for Palestinian human rights, 40% of Canadians agreed, and 32% disagreed. The strongest support for this question came from BC (55% agree to 23% disagree), and the least support was in the Prairies (29% agree to 45% disagree). A majority of respondents who support the Liberals (55%) and NDP (73%) agreed that support for Palestinians should be increased, compared to only 11% Conservative supporters.
When asked if Canada should decrease its support for Palestinian human rights, 54% of respondents disagreed, while 23% agreed. There were high levels of disagreement from supporters of Liberals (65%), NDP (79%), and Green (69%), with very few who indicated their agreement. Among Conservative supporters, in contrast, only 26% disagreed, while almost half (47%) agreed that support for Palestinians should be decreased. Opposition was strongest among those 18-34 years old (70%), and respondents in Ontario (62%), while the issue was most polarized in the Prairies (37% disagree to 36% agree) and among those 55-64 years old (45 disagree to 40 agree). Similar to the issue of climate change, there is a strong correlation between higher levels of education and support for Palestinian human rights.
International development spending
The results of this question are mixed. When asked if they agree that Canada should increase its development spending, only 29% agreed, whereas 38% of Canadians disagreed. While there was substantial support for this proposal among NDP (44%) and Liberal (41%) voters, a significant 66% of Conservative supporters disagreed that international development spending should be increased.
However, when the question was asked in the opposite way, if Canada should decrease its international development spending, 43% of respondents disagreed with this proposal, and only 33% agreed. There was strong opposition to spending decreases from NDP (67%) and Liberal (58%) supporters, while 55% of Conservative party supporters agreed that spending should be decreased, and 33% of them strongly agreed.
These results suggest that Canadians are highly polarized by political party around the question of international development spending. It also shows that, while more Canadians preferred not to increase spending, a greater number also opposed decreasing it. This may reflect a lack of knowledge or interest in what international development spending is, and whether it is valuable. It is also notable that this survey was conducted during the COVID-19 crisis, which may have impacted how Canadians view the value of spending on development outside of Canada.
The survey found that Canadians are generally supportive of increasing Canada’s contributions to the international community, although it varies by issue, and especially by party preference. This shows that, overall, Canadians support actions perceived to improve Canada’s international reputation, improving its candidacy for a seat at the United Nations Security Council. Interestingly, Canadians are more likely to oppose decreasing these contributions than they are to support increasing them.
The exceptions are supporters of the Conservative Party, who expressed broad support for reducing Canada’s international commitments. In this way, their views sharply diverge with Liberal, NDP and Green voters.
Well over twice as many Canadians expressed support for Canada increasing its commitment to combatting climate change (inc: 63% vs. 25%; dec: 67% vs. 23%) – a result that was also highly influenced by political party preference. In fact, Liberal supporters were at least six times more likely to agree with a greater commitment to combatting climate change than to oppose it. NDP and Green respondents were at least nine times more likely.
In addition, at least twice as many Canadians expressed support for increasing Canada’s contribution to international peacekeeping (inc: 48% vs. 24%; dec: 64% vs. 19%) – a result that was highly influenced by political party preference. In fact, Liberal, NDP and Green respondents were at least five times more likely to agree with greater support for international peacekeeping than to oppose it.
On the question of Canada and Palestinian human rights, there was again a strong polarization among respondents by political party. While overall, there was more support for increasing Canada’s support for Palestinian human rights, this support was far stronger among Liberal, NPD and Green voters. In fact, Liberal, NDP and Green respondents were at least three times more likely to agree with greater support for Palestinian human rights than to oppose them.
Given the survey findings, of the four topics considered, Canadians are most interested in seeing Canada make a greater commitment to combatting climate change, followed by an interest in seeing Canada increase its contribution to international peacekeeping. After this, Canadians are next interested in seeing an increase in Canadian support for Palestinian human rights. Finally, Canadians seem divided on Canada’s spending on international development.
 In the discussion of the survey results, we frequently refer to survey “respondents,” although it would be more statistically appropriate to use the term “Canadians,” as the survey results were weighted by EKOS.
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