Terrorism a threat in Ontario: poll
Date: Tuesday, August 26 2003
Topic: Canadian Informative
Most residents of Ontario believe terrorists are living and plotting in Canada, but they are not panicking about it, says a poll taken just before officials arrested 19 people last week as possible threats to national security.
Greg Lyle, president of the Toronto-based consulting firm Navigator Ltd., says the poll shows remarkable unanimity among people of all ages and walks of life in believing terrorism has become a real threat in Canada.
"They are not looking under their beds every night for terrorists, but they have significant levels of concern," Mr. Lyle said.
Over all, 81 per cent of those interviewed in Ontario said they have thought about the possibility of terrorist attacks on Canadian soil, according to the poll, released yesterday. The percentage was slightly smaller 77 per cent among people who live in the Greater Toronto Area.
Eighty per cent of those in Toronto and 90 per cent in the rest of the province answered yes when asked, "Do you believe that there are terrorists living and plotting in Canada?"
The poll was taken just before an RCMP announcement Friday that 19 men arrested in the Toronto area last week are considered potential threats to national security. The men, all Pakistanis, are being held for violations of the Immigration Act, but a document filed in a detention hearing cited a pattern of suspicious behavior.
One of the men was said to be taking lessons at a flight training school whose planes fly near the Pickering nuclear-generating station east of Toronto. Neither the RCMP nor immigration officials made any further statements about the investigation yesterday. No charges have been laid against the men.
The poll said 20.3 per cent of Ontarians considered themselves "very concerned" there will be a terrorist attack in the near future. An additional 39.9 per cent said they were "somewhat concerned," and only 12.9 per cent said they were "not concerned at all." Young people aged 18 to 34 were the least likely to be concerned about an imminent attack.
However, 28.6 per cent of people polled said they were either "extremely concerned" or "very concerned" that foreign terrorists might attack American targets located in Canada.
At least 80 per cent of men and women in every age group agreed with the statement "Terrorism is a global problem that has implications for Canada."
More than half of those surveyed agreed it is easier for a terrorist to enter Canada than the United States; only 4 per cent said it is more difficult.
The poll sampled 609 randomly selected residents of Ontario last week. It had a 95-per-cent statistical likelihood of accuracy on any given question within a margin of error of four percentage points upward or downward.
A previous Navigator survey conducted in March on fear of terrorism found Canadians are looking to governments to anticipate these threats and search out potential plots, said Mr. Lyle, whose company sells poll results to provinces and the federal government.
The latest poll results, he said, show Ontarians "think about terrorism; they believe it is a problem here in Canada and not just in other places, and they believe terrorists like those in al-Qaeda are living and plotting in Canada."
"This raises issues of border security. If governments are being tough, they should get the message out. If they don't, they better react to this," Mr. Lyle suggested.