Bush as scary as bin Laden, says survey
Chris Wattie, Vancouver Sun, June 13, 2005


TORONTO -- Canadians believe U.S. President George Bush is almost as great a threat to our national security as Osama bin Laden, according to an opinion poll obtained by the National Post. The 1,500 people contacted for the poll, conducted last February for the Department of National Defence, listed "International Organized Crime" as the top danger, with 38 per cent ranking it as a great threat to security and another 50 per cent listing it as moderate. But tied for second in the poll were "U.S. Foreign Policy" and "Terrorism," with 37 per cent rating it a great risk. Just behind those worries came
"Climate Change and Global Warming."

Experts said the results reflected a continuing "schizophrenia" in the Canadian public's attitudes towards defence -- still worried about international terrorism even three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, but also concerned about the power and aggressive policies of the Americans. The poll, by Ekos Research Associates Inc., surveyed Canadians' attitudes
towards a wide range of defence, military and national security issues, part of an annual polling process by the Department of National Defence. It was considered accurate within 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Most of those contacted for the poll had "great confidence" in the Canadian Forces' ability to respond to natural disasters in Canada, but only 25 per cent felt the same way about how our military would handle a terrorist attack on Canadian soil. John Thompson, the director of the MacKenzie Institute think-tank on security issues, said Canadians have always had mixed feelings about the U.S. "There's a huge split in the Canadian public mind, between people who are worried about terrorism and people who think that the U.S. are the real terrorists," he said. "There are still a lot of people who are sticking to the old ideal of fuzzy internationalism or soft power . . . yet there are also a lot of people who are not relaxed yet after Sept. 11th."

The poll suggested other security concerns preying at the public's mind include "Weapons of Mass Destruction," listed as a great danger by 30 per cent of those surveyed, and "Potential Weaponization of Space," which 26 per cent of those polled found a great concern. Health threats, such as the SARS outbreak of 2003, nuclear threats, natural disasters and countries in turmoil, such as Sudan or Haiti, were the least
worrisome threats according to the poll. Thompson said people are correct to be skeptical about the Canadian Forces' ability to respond to a terrorist attack on Canada. "We could barely handle a major domestic incident like the ice storm today, forget about a terrorist attack," he said.

WHAT WE FEAR
Dangers perceived by Canadians according to a poll conducted last February, in order of the threat considered most dangerous.
1. Organized crime
2. U.S. foreign policy
2. Terrorism (tied)
3. Climate change and global warming