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Fewer Canadians than Americans back military strike on Iran

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu draws a red line on a graphic of a bomb as he addresses the 67th United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Canadians are less likely than Americans are to support a pre-emptive military strike against Iran's nuclear-enrichment program, though the difference nearly evaporates in the Prairie provinces, and both countries consider Iran's activities a major worry.

A poll conducted by Ipsos Reid found that 41 per cent of Canadians supported a pre-emptive strike compared with 59 per cent of Americans.

Fifty-four per cent of those polled in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were in support, compared with a low of 35 per cent in Quebec.

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The poll was conducted on behalf of the Munk Debates, which hosts a discussion next month on how the world should respond to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Moderator and co-organizer Rudyard Griffiths said he was surprised that the differences in views between the two countries weren't greater, and speculated that they could reflect a shift in the way Canadians view their military following our pull-out from Afghanistan and intervention in Libya.

"Were not Americans, we don't have a history of using military power to engage with global problems," he said.

"But in this case there seems to be some more hard-headed realism. … Maybe Canadians are becoming more comfortable about using their military as a tool to engage in the world."

He also said Israel's government has also done a good job of raising the profile of the issue.

Canadians ranked a nuclear-armed Iran as the third greatest global threat, after international terrorism and famine and food shortage.

Americans ranked it as their second-greatest concern, behind international terrorism.

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People polled in both countries agreed that public debate of the issue has been of low quality and driven by fear.

The poll surveyed 1,007 Canadians and 1,002 Americans from Ipsos's online panels.

The poll is considered accurate to plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points for the national figures, with less confidence for regional and demographic data.

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