OTTAWA - A new poll indicates most Canadians accept new airport scanners that can see through the clothes of travellers.
A survey conducted by The Canadian Press Harris-Decima earlier this month found four in five respondents said the use of the scanners was reasonable.
Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said the technology was likely to be effective in reducing the risk of a terrorist attack.
The pollsters say the numbers suggest Canadians feel airport security is as strict as it needs to be and, if anything, it is not strict enough.
Just before the poll was taken, the government announced plans to install 44 machines across the country that will generate three-dimensional images of air travellers' bodies.
The move followed a trial run of the technology, known as millimetre-wave scanners, at the Kelowna, B.C., airport.
The aim is to detect the sort of explosives sewn a Nigerian man's underwear that brought a jetliner to the brink of disaster over Detroit on Christmas Day.
Majorities of just about every demographic subgroup backed use of the scanners, although support was slightly lower among respondents in British Columbia.
"This study tends to demonstrate Canadians are comfortable with the decision and expect it will have a positive impact on the safety of air travel," said Harris-Decima senior vice-president Doug Anderson.
Officials say screeners viewing the scanner images will be in a separate room from the traveller to guard their privacy.
Sensitive parts will not be digitally blurred, providing the viewer with a fairly detailed outline of one's body.
People under 18 years of age will not go through the scanners but could be subjected to a pat-down.
By more than a three-to-one margin, respondents told the pollster they would opt for the body scanner over a pat-down.
Still, more then one-quarter of those surveyed were uncomfortable with their image appearing on the scanner. Women and those aged 65 or older were more likely than others to feel leery.
Security analysts and civil-rights advocates are at odds over the scanner's ability to detect deadly weapons.
Some have questioned whether trying to improve airport security is even necessary when it is clear that intelligence failures played a big role in allowing the alleged Nigerian bomber to board his flight.
"Opinion is split over whether this decision was an overreaction to the failed attack on Christmas Day," said Anderson.
But even most of those who saw it as an overreaction supported the decision to install the scanners.
Harris-Decima interviewed just over 1,000 Canadians by telephone Jan. 7-10. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points 19 times in 20.