Ontario voters back conservation, poll finds


Conservation Area

Toronto – A poll commissioned by the Conservation Council of Ontario has turned up some interesting results: voters back conservation as a solution to our economic and financial woes.

The results were published in the Council’s report, Conservation Trends 2011, published this September. “Not only are voters personally committed to living better while using less, they also understand how conservation can help solve economic, health and social concerns, and they want strong government leadership,” said Chris Winter, the Council’s Executive Director.

The polling found that:
1. conservation is a strong cultural value
2. people choose to conserve in their own lives
3. people understand how conservation addresses provincial priorities of the economy, the cost of living, the environment, healthy communities, and public health
4. people expect government leadership

“With so many people committed to saving energy, using green power, driving less, supporting local and organic farms, or supporting their local economy,” observed Winter, “it just makes sense that they want their government to help make conservation easy and affordable.”

The poll found that support for government leadership on conservation was strong across all parties and all regions. Although support for lower taxes was strongest among Tory voters, over 50 percent of their supporters want to see taxes maintained at the same level. In Toronto, there was no support for either smaller government or less taxes.

With the poll results in mind, the Council assessed the campaign platforms of the four major provincial parties for consistency of approach to conservation throughout the platform.

Its conclusions:

  • Every party should be able to integrate a conserver ethic with their political philosophies.
  • The Greens start from an environmental ethic, and have integrated their party philosophy into provincial priorities of jobs, energy, health care and food.
  • The Liberals have a strong and consistent conserver ethic throughout their energy, economic, health, and urban development platforms.
  • The New Democrats present a strong platform on conservation issues, energy conservation in particular, while not fully reconciling conservation values with their pocketbook policies (HST rebates on energy).
  • The Progressive Conservatives offer some nature-oriented initiatives, offsetting an agenda that fails to incorporate a conservation ethic.

“This raises two questions,” said Winter, a 25-year veteran of the conservation movement in Ontario. “First, what happens to the Greens when mainstream parties make conservation a central theme? And second, will the growth of conservation as a dominant cultural value impact parties whose platforms are inconsistent or that fail to reflect a conservation ethic?”

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