Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

People gather during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in Toronto, on Feb. 27.CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

Canadians strongly back hitting Russia with more punitive measures for its invasion of Ukraine but are hesitant to go to war over the conflict, which has already killed hundreds of civilians and laid waste to major Ukrainian cities.

However, a new Nanos Research poll for The Globe and Mail says a majority of Canadians would support declaring war on Russia, along with NATO, if Moscow were to invade yet another country.

The survey found that 83 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support expanding economic sanctions and other actions against Russia even if it “resulted in a prolonged series of price increases in Canada for staples such as gasoline or groceries.” Fifteen per cent of respondents opposed or somewhat opposed more punitive actions.

Canadians are split, however, on whether they would go to war with Russia over Ukraine. Thirty-two per cent of respondents oppose entering the conflict, and 13 per cent somewhat oppose joining the fray. Twenty-one per cent would support fighting Russia over Ukraine, and another 26 per cent would somewhat support this course of action.

But support for war rises if Moscow were to invade another country, the poll found. Two-thirds of Canadians would support or somewhat support war with Russia in that scenario, with 41 per cent supportive and 25 per cent somewhat supportive. Sixteen per cent of Canadians would still oppose war, and 11 per cent would somewhat oppose it.

The Nanos poll found significant differences between older and younger adults on this question. Only 31 per cent of Canadians 18 to 34 would support war with Russia under this scenario, with another 25 per cent somewhat supporting it.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights last week estimated that at least 847 Ukrainian civilians have been killed and 1,399 injured since the war began on Feb. 24. The office said most of the civilian casualties were caused by explosive weapons such as heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes. It said its estimates are likely incomplete.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 10 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes by the war – almost a quarter of the country’s population – including some 3.5 million who have fled to other countries as refugees.

A significant majority of Canadians also back using tax dollars to airlift Ukrainian refugees to Canada, an option Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he is considering. More than eight in 10 Canadians support or somewhat support a government airlift. Fifty-eight per cent support and 27 per cent somewhat support the idea. Just 10 per cent oppose or somewhat oppose the proposal.

Again, support is lower among younger adults. In the 18-to-34-year-old cohort, 47 per cent support and 27 per cent somewhat support the measure.

Polling also found Canadians support the idea of accepting Ukrainian refugees. Forty-four per cent said Canada should accept a greater number of asylum seekers from Ukraine than the 70,000 it did from Syria several years ago. Forty-one per cent of respondents said the number of Ukrainians given refuge should equal the number of Syrians. Another 7 per cent said Canada should accept fewer.

“Research suggests that the government could accept up to 70,000 Ukrainian refugees, the same as the number of Syrian refugees accepted, without political pushback,” pollster Nik Nanos said.

Canadians are divided on Ukraine’s call for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone in Ukrainian airspace – a measure that would draw the Western military alliance into a conflict with Russian warplanes. Forty-seven per cent of respondents support or somewhat support enforcing a no-fly zone “even if it meant a possible direct escalation and conflict with Russia,” while 45 per cent oppose or somewhat oppose the idea.

The poll of more than 1,000 people in Canada was conducted March 18 to 20. It is considered accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe