It appears the Canadian public's infatuation with warfighting has soured. A Globe & Mail poll by Nanos Research shows that while Canadians still see the military as a genuine priority, it trails health care, jobs, the environment, taxes and education in importance. Health care and education took 1st and 2nd spots respectively.
Though years of lethal combat in Kandahar have changed the face and image of the Canadian Forces, the public that awaits the return of the troops sees a future military modelled on its vision of blue-helmeted peacekeepers of years past. Canadians retain a deep vein of interest in internationalism, but not one that gets soldiers into shooting wars - rating combat missions by troops overseas as the least important of five roles for Canada's military.
...The Nanos poll found 52 per cent of respondents rated UN peacekeeping as an important role for Canada's armed forces - a quarter rated it a 10 on a scale of importance from one to 10. Only 21 per cent of Canadians rated overseas combat missions as an important role for the military.
Overall, said pollster Nik Nanos, Canadians still see their military's job as they have for decades, based on two main pillars: UN peacekeeping, and the kind of North American defence co-operation with the United States long done by institutions such as NORAD. "It's kind of like retro hour for foreign policy," he says.
Those views are likely coloured now by an Afghanistan mission they wouldn't repeat. The poll found 66 per cent of Canadians would oppose or "somewhat oppose" another mission like it. Only 21 per cent said they would support or somewhat support such a mission.
When it comes to Afghanistan, Canada's military and political leadership have only themselves to blame for the public's disenchantment. Harper's John Wayne act was exposed as blatant partisan manipulation. He was so "pro-Afghanistan" until he abruptly turned "anti." And our military leadership repeatedly showed themselves at best mediocre, at worst probably incompetent. Remember when stand up comedian, now safely retired general Rick Hillier bragged about sending 2,500 Canadians to Kandahar to kill "a few dozen ...scumbags"? What a dark and bitter farce.