Canadians' Views on a Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons

Strong Support (93%) for Canadian Involvement in Global Negotiations to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

  • Three quarters (76%) strongly support a leadership role for Canada in global negotiations
  • Majority (55%) support Canada's membership in military alliances such as NATO despite nuclear weapons

On the heels of Canada's leadership in the movement to abolish anti-personnel mines world-wide, Canadians are almost unanimous in supporting Canadian involvement in global negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons. Noting Canada's adherence to global bans on chemical and biological weapons, fully 93% of Canadians support the idea -- this includes 79% who say they strongly support the idea.

Further, three-quarters (76%) strongly support the idea of a leadership role for Canada in global negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons. However, a slim majority (55%) still supports Canada's involvement with military alliances such as NATO which include nuclear weapons in their military strategies.

These are some of the key findings of a Canada-wide poll was conducted by The Angus Reid Group on behalf on the Canadian Peace Alliance by telephone between February 4th and 10th among a representative cross-section of 1,500 adult Canadians. The data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's age composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 1996 Census data.

With a national sample of 1,500, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results are within 1772.3 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within the various sub-groupings of the survey population.

Canadians want to lead the way to a nuclear-weapons-free world

In addition to supporting global abolition of nuclear weapons, Canadians are virtually unanimous in believing Canada should take a lead role in this process. Noting that Canada lead the effort to ban anti-personnel land mines, 97% of Canadians say they either somewhat support or strongly support a leadership role for Canada in global negotiations -- this includes 76% who strongly support the idea to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Canadians believe nuclear weapons pose a threat to world security

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 a more dangerous place. 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.

Nuclear weapons considered a threat to peace and the environment

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 one-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, nonetheless believe they are either a moderate or mild threat. Fewer than 10% say any of these incidents pose no threat at all.

Women generally perceive a graver threat from these incidents than men.

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

Slim majority (55%) support Canada's membership in military alliances such as NATO

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. Forty- two percent oppose Canada's membership in such alliances.

Support for Canadian membership in alliances with military strategies involving nuclear weapons is higher among men (61%) than among women (49%). It is also somewhat higher among more educated Canadians. Albertans (67%) are most likely to support Canadian membership in these alliances, while Quebecers (38%) are least supportive.


This Canada-wide poll was conducted by The Angus Reid Group on behalf on the Canadian Peace Alliance by telephone between February 4th and 10th among a representative cross-section of 1,500 adult Canadians.

The data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's age composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 1996 Census data.

With a national sample of 1,500, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results are within ±2.3 percentage points of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within the various sub-groupings of the survey population.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Martin Redfern
Senior Research Manager
The Angus Reid Group
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 324-2900

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