Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Few Canadians back Harper's pro-Israel stand

Yahoo! News
Few Canadians back Harper's pro-Israel stand

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's outspoken support for Israel in its fight with Hezbollah militants seems out of step with most Canadians, according to a new poll.

The Strategic Counsel survey found only 32 percent of Canadians backed the prime minister, who said Israel's military response to the abduction of two of its soldiers and repeated rocket attacks into Israel was measured.

Some 45 percent opposed Harper's view.

A whopping 77 percent said Canada should remain neutral in the current conflict.

"The position Canadians want us to take is decidedly neutral," pollster Allan Gregg told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

However, Harper's stand has not affected the Conservatives' overall popularity, which remains almost 10 percentage points ahead of the opposition Liberal Party.

Thousands in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal have protested Harper's position on the Middle East conflict over the past month.

Canadian media predicted Harper would likely face a voter backlash over his dogged support for Israel and his refusal to blame Israel for the deaths of nine Canadians in air strikes in southern Lebanon, including a UN military observer.

The poll of 1,000 Canadians was taken July 27 to 30 and is accurate to within 3.1 percentage points.

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