|OTTAWA — Canadians are willing to sacrifice key elements of this country's sovereignty — even accepting American security and immigration policies — in their desire for greater continental safety, a new poll says.
Also, the political and economic fallout from the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington is pushing Canada closer to the United States, rapidly accelerating a trend already apparent before the tragedies.
"Antipathy toward America, long a cornerstone of being Canadian, seems to have evaporated rather rapidly," says Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research, which conducted the poll for The Toronto Star, CBC and La Presse.
"This might be a different Canada, sooner rather than later.''
An overwhelming number of respondents said they now feel a closer sense of shared values and interests with Americans in the wake of the events, which shook the world earlier this month.
And 59 per cent said they wouldn't mind giving up some of our national sovereignty if it meant increasing the security of North America against future terrorist attacks.
When it comes to the question of a North American security perimeter, Graves says the bottom line is clear.
"Canadians want to be inside the gate, not outside the gate," he said.
The telephone survey of 1,228 Canadians was conducted Sept. 24-26 and is considered valid, plus-or-minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The poll shows Canadians understand the Sept. 11 attacks have profoundly changed the world and will permanently affect their lives.
They are unsure of the long-term effects, but they are not living in fear of a terrorist attack in their own backyard.
They also approve of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's response to the attacks and most believe terrorism is rooted in fanaticism, not as a product of U.S. foreign policy.
Canadians under 25 are more likely (43 per cent) to blame the attacks on U.S. Middle East policy than the population as a whole, where only 33 per cent believe American foreign policy was the most important cause.
A significant number are also content with racial minorities being singled out for security checks by police and at Canadian airports and border crossings.
Canadians are also, for the most part, surprisingly optimistic about their economic future and tend to believe the economic effects of the destruction and devastation in New York and Washington will be short-term.
Over-all, Graves said, his polling shows Canadians believe they share common values with Americans, regard them with genuine affection and empathy and know their economic and security futures are inextricably interwoven with our larger neighbour.
When EKOS asked whether the suicide bombings in New York and Washington made them feel a closer sense of shared values and interests with their neighbours, 65 per cent agreed and only 16 per cent disagreed.
Almost half — 45 per cent — told EKOS they believe the events will accelerate the integration of Canada and the U.S., with only 24 per cent believing it will boost Canadian independence. Some 27 per cent felt it would have no impact on the relationship between the two countries.
EKOS also asked for a response to the following: "I support creating a Canada-U.S. security perimeter, even if means we must effectively accept American security and immigration policies.'' Some 53 per cent agreed and only 30 per cent disagreed.
EKOS also found a clear majority of 57 per cent feel Canada should participate in military retaliation for the attack, and 58 per cent believe more money should be spent on defence.
Most respondents believe a long-term campaign against the terrorists with a goal of preventing future attacks is the preferred retaliatory approach.
More than three in four, 77 per cent of respondents, say the terrorist attacks have "deeply and permanently" changed their lives, although there is still an overwhelming sense that it "can't happen here.''
Only 12 per cent told EKOS they thought it highly likely that they or their family would suffer from a terrorist attack over the next two years.
Six in 10 respondents rated the likelihood as low.