What to do about Omar Khadr

Six in Ten Oppose Omar Khadr Transfer to Canada Before His Sentence is Complete

A new survey commissioned by the Sun News Network and conducted by Abacus Data finds that three in four (74%) of Canadian are aware of the case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who confessed to killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. When asked whether they support or oppose his transfer back to Canada before completing his sentence in the United States, six in ten respondents either somewhat (19%) or strongly (41%) were opposed.

Aware of Khadr

When asked if they were aware of the case involving Omar Khadr nearly three quarters (74%) of Canadians said they were aware. Just over a quarter (26%) said they were unaware of the case involving Omar Khadr.

Young Canadians, age 18 to 20, were the least likely (43% unaware) to be aware of the case involving Omar Khadr. Meanwhile, Canadians who were 60 and over were the most likely (90% aware) to be aware of the case involving Omar Khadr.

Opposition to Khadr’s Return

A majority of Canadians oppose Omar Khadr’s return to Canada before he has served his entire sentence in the United States.  Overall, sixty percent of respondents surveyed either somewhat (19%) or strongly (41%) opposed his transfer while only 24% supported it.

Opposition to Khadr’s return was strongest in Ontario (46% strongly opposed), Alberta (53% strongly opposed), among those aged 45 to 59 (48% opposed), and among those who voted Conservative in the  last federal election (58% opposed).

Support for the federal government approving Khadr’s transfer back to Canada was highest in Quebec (20% support) and among Liberal Party supporters (39%).

Interestingly, there were no gender differences on the question.  Men and women were similar in the views on Khadr (men 26% support/60% oppose; women 23% support/60% oppose).

Khadr’s Eligibility for Parole

The majority of Canadians (53%) were strongly opposed to granting Omar Khadr parole if he was transferred to Canada before completing his sentence in the United States.  Another 18% somewhat opposed parole for him. Only 15% of Canadians either somewhat or strongly supported him being released on parole if he were to be transferred to Canada.

Bottom Line

Most Canadians are aware of the case involving Omar Khadr and few would support the federal government approving his transfer back to Canada before completing his prison sentence in the United States.

Opposition to Khadr’s return is intense and broadly based with Ontarians, Albertans, and Conservative supporters being most opposed to his transfer.

It should come as no surprise that the federal government is delaying the approval of Khadr’s early return to Canada.  The government’s supporters and those living in regions where its hoping to grow were most opposed to approving his transfer to Canada.

Download detailed tables.


The survey was conducted online with 2,009 respondents living outside of Quebec in English using an internet survey platform. A random sample of panelists was invited to participate in the survey from a larger internet representative panel of over 150,000 Canadians.  The survey was completed from August 10-12, 2012.

An over sample of was conducted in British Columbia (n=793) and Ontario (n=502).  The data was statistically weighted by age, gender, region, and education level according to census data.

Since the online survey was not a random, probability based sample, a margin of error could not be calculated. The margin of error for a survey of 2,009 respondents using a probability sample is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

For more information about the survey, please contact David Coletto, CEO at david@abacusdata.ca or 613-232-2806.

Influencers represent Canadians who consume a lot of news and are influential among their peers, family, and friends.  They share information, make their opinions known, and influence others.  They help move public opinion by being filters between the media, elites, and other Canadians.

Abacus Data’s The Influencers is based on The Strength of Personality Scale developed by the Allensbach Survey Center in Germany identifies a group of the most active opinion leaders called, the “influentials.” We’ve replicated this scale in our survey by asking respondents a series of 11 survey questions that are statistically weighted according to their correlations with the scale (Noelle-Nuemann, 1985).

Influencers are opinion leaders who are active communicators on issues that span multiple subject areas. In the Abacus Data version of the measure, Influencers are also identified by their media consumption habits.

By testing respondents’ self-perceived levels of personal influence we can identify this group within the Canadian population. As tested by the Allensbach Institut the Strength of Personality Scale is shown to validly reflect a measure of real communication flow and level of influence across samples (Weimann,1991).