Canadians leery of Stephen Harper's plan to spend a half trillion dollars on defence as national economy weakens



    OTTAWA, Sept. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - A new poll commissioned by the Rideau
Institute reveals a high degree of public anxiety with Stephen Harper and his
Conservative Party's 20-year, $490 billion defence strategy, with half of
Canadians supporting a reduction in this planned spending. "Canadians are
questioning Conservative Party priorities," concluded Steven Staples,
President of the Rideau Institute. "With storm clouds forming over our economy
and federal budget surpluses vanishing, the next government will have to
decide whether it wants to protect funding for social programs such as health
care, or commit a half a trillion dollars to a new mega-defence strategy."
    "One in two Canadians (51.8%) would like to see the spending on Stephen
Harper's 20 year defence strategy reduced," stated Nik Nanos, President and
CEO of Nanos Research, the firm that conducted the poll. "Only one in four
Canadians (27%) would like to see the plan continue as proposed, while one in
ten (11%) would like to see defence spending increase. Ten percent of
Canadians were unsure."
    In every geographic, age and party preference category, more Canadians
prefer reducing planned Conservative defence spending rather than maintaining
or increased it. Support for the reduction in spending is highest among
Quebecers (62.4%); Bloc Quebececois supporters (72.9%) and Canadians aged
18-29 (56%). Slightly more female voters (54%) to males (49.7%) prefer reduced
spending.
    Such strong concern about increased defence spending may reflect
Canadians' uneasiness over the continuing war in Afghanistan. While military
costs associated with the war continue to rise, so too does the human cost in
terms of the lives of Canadian soldiers, military personnel and Afghan
civilians. At the same time, cynicism is growing over the lack of positive
results from the conflict as well as concerns over non-competitive government
contracting for new military equipment.
    "These numbers should be a wake-up call to all political parties to
carefully re-evaluate their defence strategies, particularly when it comes to
costing them out and funding them," said Staples, "Canadians are paying
attention".

    (Download the Nanos Research poll)
(http://www.smartvote2008.ca/smartvote-files/20080923-RI-StatSheetsDefence.pdf
)

    The poll results are based on a random telephone survey of
1,200 Canadians from September 20th to September 22nd, 2008. The margin of
accuracy for a sample of 1,200 is +/-2.8%, 19 times out of 20. For more
information on polling technique please visit www.nanosresearch.com.

    The Rideau Institute on International Affairs is an independent research,
advocacy and consulting group based in Ottawa. It provides research, analysis
and commentary on public policy issues to decision makers, opinion leaders and
the public. It is a federally registered non-profit organization, established
in January 2007.




For further information:

For further information: Steven Staples, Rideau Institute, c. (613)
290-2695, sstaples@rideauinstitute.ca

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