Albertans Demand a New NEP
Allan Woods, CanWest News Service
Published: Monday, November 06, 2006
OTTAWA - Most Canadians -- including a majority of Albertans -- believe the federal government should levy a tax on carbon-based energy sources, according to a new poll.
Surprisingly, the country's top oil, gas and coal producing regions -- Alberta, British Columbia and Atlantic Canada -- showed the most support for a carbon tax.
Fifty-four per cent of Albertans and 55 per cent of British Columbians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement: "Canada needs a special carbon tax to increase the cost of burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal for consumers and industry. This tax would promote energy efficiency and help the environment."
The story goes on to say that 26% of Canadians listed the environment as their top priority, ahead of health care at 24%. People may not be making a huge deal about it now, but the shifting public concern about the environment is downright remarkable. Health care has always been the top issue for Canadians except in exceptional circumstances - National Unity during the referendum, or ethics during the Sponsorship Scandal (and, only then for a month or two). The fact that a quarter of Canadians list the environment as their number one concern is a seismic shift from the 6-8% it would get in these polls every year, up until this spring when the mood started shifting. Even at the height of Adscam, I don't think government ethics cracked 20% in these polls.
It remains to be seen if it will be a ballot box issue or just something people say to pollsters to sound conscientious (like health care). But any political party would be foolish to ignore this.