Canadians leery of intervention in Syria: poll

Canadians have mixed feelings about an international intervention in Syria but certainly don't want Canada involved, according to a new Forum Research poll published on Thursday.

Forum — which interviewed 1,186 Canadians on the topic — claims that 46 per cent of those surveyed agree and 42 per cent disagree on whether the international community should intervene in the two year old civil war.

On the question of Canada's course of action, there's a slightly more dominant consensus: 50 per cent don't think Canada should participate in a multi-national effort while only 42 per cent do.

"Despite the fact they see intervention in the Syrian conflict as a moral duty, regardless of the economic consequences, Canadians aren't that eager to see their country take up the challenge, or indeed, any country," Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff said in a news release accompanying the survey results.

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The poll was conducted on September 1, three days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that, while the government supports its allies in responding to an alleged chemical attack by the Assad regime, it had "no plans" for a "Canadian military mission."

Regardless, the poll suggests that 75 per cent of Canadians believe Parliament should be recalled to debate the issue before any final decision is made.

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In spite of being on the sidelines of a potential military effort, Harper is talking tough.

"We share the view of our allies that the use of chemical weapons on an unprecedented scale by the Syrian regime constitutes a very troubling development," Harper said on Friday, at the close of the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to CBC News.

"And if it is not countered, it will constitute a precedent that we think is very dangerous for humanity in the long term. And so, obviously, we are very supportive of those of our allies who want to take action to try and prevent this development from going further, trying to dissuade the Syrian regime from this course of action."

Harper also addressed the argument — that many have made — that any intervention must be sanctioned by the United Nations.

"We are simply not prepared to accept the idea that there is a Russian veto over all of our actions," he said, referencing Russia's veto over the Security Council.

"And so that's the fundamental difference of opinion here."

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In addition to the tough talk, Harper announced $45 million in aid for humanitarian organizations which provide food, shelter, clean water and medical assistance to Syrian civilians affected by the war.

"The Government of Canada stands with the people of Syria as they continue to face unfathomable hardships at the hands of the Assad regime," the prime minister said.

[ Related: Is it time to recall Canadian Parliament to debate Syria? ]

"Canada’s support, together with that of its allies, will help provide much needed humanitarian assistance to the millions of innocent people whose lives are being destroyed by the conflict in Syria."

According to the Prime Minister's Office, Canada has now committed a total of $203.5 million for humanitarian assistance in Syria.

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