Poll shows nuclear weapons a major concern in Canada

A recent poll by Nanos Research indicates that nuclear weapons are a far greater concern for people in Canada than government actions would suggest. Specifically, there is a groundswell of support for disarmament, including through divestment in companies involved in nuclear weapons.

At a time when the Canadian government is preparing to purchase 88 nuclear weapons capable fighter jets, which both the F35 and Super Hornet are, a large majority (80 percent) of people polled said that there needs to be more work on a global level to eliminate nuclear weapons. This includes 74 percent who indicated that Canada should sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) that became international law in January, even if it comes under pressure from the US or NATO to not do so.

This popular view is clearly at odds with the Trudeau government, whose recent budget included increased funding and support for the NATO and NORAD military alliances. Canada’s membership in NATO includes funding for the alliance’s nuclear arsenal and support for its “first use” policy, while its NORAD membership includes input into US nuclear weapons policy and command in North America.

Transparency around government policy is also a concern for a large majority of people in Canada, with the poll indicating that 76 percent feel the House of Commons should have committee hearings and a debate on Canada’s position on nuclear disarmament.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they would divest from companies who are involved in development, manufacture or deployment of nuclear weapons. For several decades, many corporations in Canada have profited from research, manufacture of components and export of nuclear material for the weapons industry.

The poll suggested that half of the country’s voters would support a political party advocating Canada’s membership in the TPNW. When the treaty was adopted by the UN in 2017, Canada joined other NATO members in abstaining from the vote and has consistently voted against an annual resolution since then, calling on all states to sign and ratify the treaty. The Liberal government has described the treaty as “well-intentioned but premature.”

The Nanos Research poll was commissioned by the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition in Toronto, The Simons Foundation Canada in Vancouver, and the Collectif Échec à la guerre in Montreal. In a press release, Hiroshima Day Coalition member Setsuko Thurlow welcomed the poll results, saying “This is profoundly gratifying to me that Canadian public awareness has been raised so significantly.”

Thurlow, who co-accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2017, indicated that the poll provides an opportunity to press for disarmament. “I want to testify before a Parliamentary committee about what I witnessed as a Hiroshima survivor and to have our Members of Parliament debate what role Canada can play in the abolition of nuclear weapons.”

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