Canadians Want Nuclear Disarmament

Canadian attitudes towards nuclear weapons were assessed by a poll of 1502 adult Canadians sponsored by the Canadian Peace Alliance and supported by Science for Peace and other organizations. Conducted by the Angus Reid organization, it was released March 26.

The majority of Canadians believe that nuclear weapons pose a threat to world security rather than enhancing world security. When asked to choose between these two alternate perceptions, 75% of Canadians say that the existence of nuclear weapons make the world a more dangerous place. Only 22% believe that nuclear weapons make the world a safer place.

Women (82%) are more likely than men (69%) to believe that nuclear weapons make the world more dangerous. This perception is otherwise largely constant across all socio-economic groups. Quebecers (80%) are most likely to believe that nuclear weapons make the world more dangerous.

When asked to rate the seriousness of six possible threats posed by nuclear weapons, the majority of Canadians rate all but one as serious threats. Specifically, more than one-half of Canadians believe there is a serious threat of the use of nuclear weapons by terrorists (67%), a world war involving nuclear weapons (58%), an environmental disaster caused by damage to a nuclear weapon (58%), nuclear proliferation (53%), or the accidental firing of a nuclear weapon (52%). Just under on-half (49%) believe there is a serious threat of a nuclear war between countries in the developing world.

Even those Canadians who do not believe these incidents are a serious threat believe they are nonetheless either a moderate or mild threat. Fewer than 10% say any of these incidents poses no threat at all. Women generally perceive a graver threat from these incidents than men.

Mirroring their greater dislike for nuclear weapons, Quebecers are roughly 20% more likely than other Canadians to perceive each of these possible incidents as a serious threat. The more educated Canadians tend to see these possible incidents as less of a threat.

Canadians are almost unanimous in supporting Canadian involvement in global negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons. When Canadians are reminded of Canada's adherence to global bans on chemical and biological weapons and then asked whether they would support Canadian involvement in a global ban on nuclear weapons, fully 93% support

These results closely mirror the findings of similar reputable studies conducted in the United States and Great Britain in 1997. In the United States study, 87% supported the negotiation of a global ban on nuclear weapons. In the United Kingdom, 87% also supported negotiations toward such a global ban. In addition to supporting global abolition of nuclear weapons, Canadians are unanimous in believing Canada should take a lead role in this process. When reminded that Canada lead the effort to ban anti-personnel land mines, 97% (92%?)of Canadians say they either somewhat support or strongly support a leadership role for Canada in global negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons. Once again, support for a leadership role for Canada is constant across all regions of Canada and most socio-demographic groups. Support does increase among more educated Canadians, however.

Notwithstanding the widespread support for a global ban on nuclear weapons and the perception that such weapons make the world more dangerous, a slight majority of Canadians (55%) support Canada's membership in military alliances, such as NATO, which include nuclear weapons in their military strategies. India to build nuclear weapons

Peace Magazine May-June 1998

Peace Magazine May-June 1998, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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