Friday, November 27, 2009

New Poll Shows Canadians Want Public Inquiry on Torture and Amnesty International Agrees

While the Harper government and our top military brass are scrambling to save their own behinds, Canadians have decided to support our troops by defending their honour. They were just doing their job and if Harper continues this charade, they could face criminal charges in an international court.

That might not mean much to people like Harper and Peter MacKay, but it means a great deal to Canadians. We want a full public inquiry and Amnesty International agrees. We can accept nothing less.

Now that the opposition members can have access to documents;, documents that the military brass were shown before testifying, to get their stories straight; we must forge ahead on this.

Canadians Want Full Public Inquiry on Afghan Detainees
November 26, 2009

Respondents are five times more likely to find the testimony of diplomat Richard Colvin credible than to side with federal government ministers.

Many Canadians believe the recent controversy over Afghan detainees should become the focus of a public inquiry, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in partnership with the Toronto Star has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,010 Canadian adults, a majority of respondents (53%) support launching a public inquiry on what the government and the Canadian Forces knew about reports of prisoner torture in Afghanistan, while 36 per cent are opposed.

People in Quebec (63%) and British Columbia (57%) clearly call for a public inquiry, while Albertans (41%) are less likely to back this course of action.


Canadian intelligence officer and diplomat Richard Colvin testified to a parliamentary committee about a series of memos he wrote between May 2006 and October 2007 warning that Afghan detainees captured by Canadians and turned over to Afghan authorities were being tortured in Afghani prisons. Colvin testified that those memos were ignored until newspaper reports brought the matter into the public eye. Canadian government ministers have dismissed Colvin’s claims as “not credible” and “entirely suspect.”

Canadians are five times more likely to believe in Colvin’s testimony (49%) than to take the side of the ministers (10%). The government’s rationale gets its highest level of support in Alberta (24%).

Still, Canadians are not ready to point fingers. While one-in-five (21%) blame politicians in Ottawa for the alleged mistreatment of Afghan prisoners, 16 per cent think the Canadian troops in Afghanistan are responsible. A More than a third of respondents believe neither is to blame (36%) and one-in-four (27%) are undecided.

Respondents are almost evenly divided on whether the people in Afghanistan currently have a good opinion of Canada’s role as a peacekeeping nation. While 33 per cent of Canadians believe Afghans have a mostly positive view of Canada, 29 per cent believe it is mostly negative.


The federal government’s strategy of dismissing Colvin’s claims has not struck a chord with the population, as a remarkably low proportion of Canadians believe the former diplomat’s testimony is “not credible.” At this stage, a public inquiry appears to be the only option that would clear the air after this public disagreement.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


  1. Do you think Afghan detainees were tortured?
    Yes 30%
    No 10%
    I don't care 56%
    Unsure 3%
    Total Votes for this Question: 3413


  2. Polls at newspapers don't count. In fact bloggers from all political stripes tip off their readers to answer those silly polls. Ipsos Reid calls households.

    I find it hard to believe that 56% of Canadians don't care. I can assure you we do.