Majority of Canadians want fair climate regulations: new poll

Toronto – A majority of Canadians reject different regulations for oil sands companies that would see them reduce global warming emissions less than other industry sectors, according to a new poll released in advance of the Council of the Federation meeting, which starts Wednesday in Regina.

“Canada’s Premiers and Ottawa must come to an agreement about how to write the rules for global warming pollution cuts,” said Matt Price, Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “A majority of Canadians want those rules to be fair in requiring equal cuts across economic sectors and provinces.”

The poll found that 60 per cent of Canadians wanted pollution cuts to be the same, 24 per cent supported different rules for oil sands companies, and 16 per cent didn’t know. Albertans were evenly split on the issue, while Quebecers – at 72 per cent – were the most likely to want parity.

The federal government is now designing a new cap and trade system for Canada, and is planning to release rules for different sectors between now and the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. Alberta and Saskatchewan have been lobbying for different rules under the label of “regional sensibility.” A cap and trade system reduces emissions by putting limits on pollution and allowing companies that beat their limits to sell – or trade – the difference to other companies who exceed the limits. The limits decline over time.

Of those surveyed, 52 per cent favoured slowing down oil sands development and investing instead in clean energy job creation, while over 29 per cent agreed with increasing oil sands production for the jobs and revenues it creates across Canada. Another 19 per cent said they didn’t know. However, 62 per cent of Albertans favoured increasing oil sands production.

The poll also found that a large majority of Canadians – 72 per cent – believed the design of government regulations like Canada’s cap and trade system should happen in public, with 9 per cent supporting development in private so that the federal government does not have to make as many compromises with provinces and other interests. An additional 19 per cent didn’t know.

Finally, there was a roughly even split of Canadians on the issue of whether provinces should accompany the federal government to international climate negotiations: 46 per cent believed the provinces should be allowed to attend alongside the federal government, while 41 per cent believed the federal government should go alone, and 13 per cent didn’t know. Quebecers – at 69 per cent – were most likely to favour provincial participation. Both Alberta and Quebec have been lobbying the federal government on this issue.

The poll was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies between July 27 and 28, 2009, among 1,012 randomly selected Canadian adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. To download the poll results, visit

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