Canadians would not support a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program, according to a new poll. But Americans might.

The poll by Ipsos-Reid, conducted earlier this month in both countries, shows 59 per cent of Canadians would oppose their country participating in such a pre-emptive strike, though 87 per cent nevertheless consider it somewhat or extremely important to deal with the threat. A solution that involves Canada's armed forces, however, is not a popular one.

Only 12 per cent of Canadians would strongly support a pre-emptive strike, compared to 29 per cent who would strongly oppose such a move.

Canadian men are more hawkish on the issue, with opinion split almost down the middle at 47 per cent support to 53 per cent opposition. That contrasts sharply to the 65 per cent of women who would oppose Canadian participation. Sixty-five per cent of Quebecers would also oppose a pre-emptive strike that includes Canadian forces, the highest proportion in the country.

This is not a mere hypothetical question. Benjamin Netanyahu, whose Likud Party is leading in the polls as Israel approaches its upcoming election, is seen as more likely to consider military action against Iran than the opposition. And if Israel does decide to strike, Americans would support the participation of U.S. forces.

In a mirror-image of Canadian opinion, 59 per cent of Americans would support the participation of the United States in a pre-emptive attack against Iran’s nuclear-enrichment program, according to the poll. Only 41 per cent would oppose it.

Interestingly, however, people on both sides of the border feel the debate and discussion on Iran’s nuclear ambitions is one-sided: 60 per cent of Canadians and 57 per cent of Americans said so. And while 55 per cent of Americans felt that the debate was rooted in fear, 58 per cent of Canadians felt the same way. Opinion is more split on whether the debate and discussion is sensationalist: 53 per cent of Canadians said it was, while 53 per cent of Americans think it is knowledgeable and informed.

The more-educated a Canadian, however, the more likely he or she is to feel that the debate is one-sided, sensationalist and rooted in fear. Canadians with a university education are also the least likely to support a strike against Iran.

With opinion against intervention, it is easy for the Canadian government to justify staying out of any future conflict in the region. In any case, the capability of Canada to provide vital support to the better-equipped and much larger Israeli and American forces is rather minimal. Canadian support for, or opposition to, a strike against Iran will not play a role in whether one goes ahead or not. Hopefully, a decision will never have to be made.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

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  • #9 North Korea: Estimated to have less than 10 nuclear warheads

  • #8 Israel: Estimated to have about 80 nuclear warheads

  • #7 India: Estimated to have 80-100 nuclear warheads

  • #6 Pakistan: Estimated to have 90-110 nuclear warheads

  • #5 United Kingdom: Estimated to have about 225 nuclear warheads

  • #4 China: Estimated to have about 240 nuclear warheads

  • #3 France: Estimated to have about 300 nuclear warheads

  • #2 United States: Estimated to have about 8,500 nuclear warheads

  • #1 Russia: Estimated to have about 11,000 nuclear warheads


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  • Oct. 1, 2009

    <em>Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili answers to a question during a press conference following talks between Iran and six world powers to discuss the Islamic republic's disputed atomic program on October 1, 2009 in Geneva. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran meets six world powers in Geneva and approves in principle a plan to send 75 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be made into special fuel for a Tehran reactor making medical materials.

  • Oct. 25, 2009

    <em>International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors arrive at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran early on October 25, 2009. Four inspectors of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran to check Iran's controversial second uranium enrichment plant. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> U.N. nuclear experts inspect a newly disclosed enrichment plant being built inside a mountain bunker.

  • Oct. 30, 2009

    <em>Herman M.G. Nackaerts, who led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors team to Iran, speaks to journalists upon his arrival on October 29, 2009 at Vienna airport from Iran. (SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran tells the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it wants fresh nuclear fuel for a reactor in Tehran before it will agree to ship enriched uranium stocks to Russia and France, according to U.N. officials.

  • Nov. 18, 2009

    <em>A picture shows the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran on August 21, 2010 during a ceremony initiating the transfer of Russia-supplied fuel to the facility after more than three decades of delay. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Tehran says will not send enriched uranium abroad but will consider swapping it for nuclear fuel within Iran.

  • Nov. 27, 2009

    <em>A file satellite image taken Sunday Sept. 27, 2009, provided by DigitalGlobe, shows a suspected nuclear enrichment facility under construction inside a mountain located north of Qom, Iran. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe, File)</em><br><br>The IAEA's 35-nation governing board censures Iran for developing the Fordow plant near Qom in secret and demands Iran freeze the project. Iran rejects the demand.

  • Jan. 19, 2010

    <em>Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili looks on during a press conference closing nuclear talks on December 7, 2010 in Geneva. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran rejects key parts of the deal to send abroad for processing most of its enrichment material.

  • Feb. 9, 2010

    <em>NATANZ, IRAN - APRIL 9: A general view of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, is seen on April 9, 2007, 180 miles south of Tehran, Iran. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran begins making higher-grade nuclear fuel, enriched to a level of 20 percent, at the Natanz plant.

  • Feb. 18, 2010

    <em>Delegates watch the opening of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of governors meeting at agency headquarters in Vienna on September 27, 2010. (SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>An IAEA report suggests for the first time Iran might be actively chasing nuclear weapons capability rather than merely having done so in the past.

  • May 17, 2010

    <em>Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Celso Amorim, gestures during a press conference at Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, on May 18, 2010, on the nuclear agreement between Brazil, Iran and Turkey. (EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran, Brazil and Turkey sign a nuclear fuel swap deal. Iran says it has agreed to transfer low-enriched uranium to Turkey within a month in return for higher-enriched nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor. The deal is not implemented due to lack of U.S., French and Russian involvement.

  • June 9, 2010

    <em>U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to make a statement regarding a United Nations Security Council vote on new sanctions for Iran in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on June 9, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Roger L. Wollenberg-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br>U.N. Security Council votes to expand sanctions against Iran to undermine its banking and other industries.

  • June 24, 2010

    <em>This photo shows a branch of Iranian Bank Tejarat in Tehran on January 24, 2012. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>U.S. Congress approves tough new unilateral sanctions aimed at squeezing Iran's energy and banking sectors.

  • July 26, 2010

    <em>Former Iranian president and head of Iran's Assembly of Experts, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, delivers a speech during a meeting of the top clerical body in Tehran on September 14, 2010, urging Iranian officials against dismissing the sanctions as 'jokes', saying that the Islamic republic was facing its worst ever 'assault' from the global community. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>The EU imposes tighter sanctions on Iran.

  • Dec. 5, 2010

    <em>Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks to journalists after the Conference on Disarmament at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. Salehi has called for other countries to chose engagement over confrontation in resolving their differences over his nation's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Keystone, Jean-Christophe Bott)</em><br><br>Iran's nuclear energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran will use domestically produced uranium concentrates, known as yellowcake, for the first time at a nuclear facility, cutting reliance on imports of the ingredient for nuclear fuel.

  • Dec. 6, 2010

    <em>Iran's chief negotiator Saeed Jalili (R) gestures next to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the foyer of the conference center near the Swiss mission to the United Nations on December 6, 2010 in Geneva. (ANJA NIEDRINGHAUS/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Talks begin in Geneva between Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is leading the discussions on behalf of big powers.

  • Jan. 21, 2011

    <em>US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks about Iran during a press conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa following their meeting at the US State Department in Washington, DC, February 3, 2010. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>World powers fail to prise any change from Iran in talks, with the EU and U.S. calling the discussions disappointing and saying no further meetings are planned.

  • June 9, 2011

    <em>Demonstrators hold effigies of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and Iran's religiuous leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a protest outside the 66th UN General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, on September 22, 2011.</em><br><br>Russia and China join Western powers in telling Iran its "consistent failure" to comply with U.N. resolutions "deepened concerns" about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program.

  • Aug. 23, 2011

    <em>International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief inspector Herman Nackaerts arrives with his team at the Vienna airport from Iran, on February 22, 2012. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran allows IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts rare access to a facility for developing advanced uranium enrichment machines during a tour of the country's main atomic sites, an Iranian envoy says.

  • Sept. 3, 2011

    <em>The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Fereydoun Abbasi Davani (2nd L) and Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko (R) shake hands during a ceremony in the southern port city of Bushehr on September 12, 2011, to celebrate hooking up Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr to the national grid, supplying 400 megawatts of its 1,000 megawatt capacity. (AMIR POURMAND/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant begins to provide electricity to the national grid, IRNA reports.

  • Jan. 9, 2012

    <em>Alireza Jafarzadeh arranges satellite images and maps allegedly showing location of an industrial site near Tehran that produces components for centrifuges used to enrich uranium, before a press conference in Washington, DC, on April 7, 2011. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>IAEA confirms Iran began refining uranium to a fissile purity of 20 percent at Fordow.

  • Feb. 15, 2012

    <em>Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils a sample of the third generation centrifuge for uranium enrichment during a ceremony to mark the National Nuclear Day day in Tehran on April 9, 2010. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran proclaims nuclear advances, including new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster. The next day Iran proposes a resumption of nuclear talks with world powers.

  • Feb. 20-21, 2012

    <em>Hans Blix(R), former general director of the United Nations (UN) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Robert Kelley, former IAEA chief inspector in Iraq chat February 21, 2012 before a panel discussion on Iran's nuclear capabilities on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Senior U.N. inspectors end a second round of talks in Tehran, without success and without inspecting a military site at Parchin.

  • March 5, 2012

    <em>International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano (C) looks on during an IAEA board of governors meeting at the UN atomic agency headquarters in Vienna on March 5, 2012. (DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and the IAEA has "serious concerns" about possible military dimensions to Tehran's activities, IAEA head Yukiya Amano says.

  • March 6, 2012

    <em>European Union's Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton gives a press conference after a meeting on April 14, 2012 as Iran and six world powers open talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme in Istanbul. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton accepts Iran's offer of new talks, after a year's standstill. U.S. President Barack Obama says the announcement offers a diplomatic chance to defuse the crisis and quiet the "drums of war". Iran says it will let U.N. nuclear inspectors visit Parchin but diplomats note a proviso saying access to the site hinges on a broader agreement on outstanding issues.

  • April 10, 2012

    <em>A sign shows gas prices over five dollars a gallon for all three grades at a EXXON service station on March 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. According to AAA the average price of gas has climbed three tenths of a cent nationwide as a result of high oil prices and tensions tied to Iran's nuclear program. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Iran cuts oil exports to Spain and may halt sales to Germany and Italy, state television reports, in an apparent move to strengthen its position ahead of crucial talks.

  • April 12, 2012

    <em>Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waits for the arrival of Iraqi Shiite Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzaie prior to a meeting in Tehran on March 10, 2012. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Ahmadinejad says the Islamic state will not surrender its nuclear rights "even under the most difficult pressure".

  • April 14, 2012

    <em>Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Said Jalili gives a press conference on April 14, 2012 as Iran and six world powers open talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear programme in Istanbul. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br>Talks between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, China, Russia and Britain resume in Istanbul. A diplomat describes the atmosphere at the opening session as "completely different" from that of previous meetings. Iran has promised to put forward "new initiatives".