Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Albertans Demand a New NEP

Well, not exactly. But this was brought to my attention in another thread and I found it really interesting.

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.


  • I was thinking the same thing about a seismic shift in public opinion on the environment.

    In last January's election, the environment was not even mentioned. Listen to this short interview of NY Times Canadian correspondent Clifford Krauss with Toronto CBC Radio host Andy Barrie just prior to the last election: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0DUJBAK8gI

    Quite a change in just 9 months. Tough not to pick up a paper these days without finding articles on the environment.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 2:04 a.m.  

  • Reading this article was fun for me. I literally pumped my fist in the air when I read it. Those Iggy supporters who were so worried about it when he blurted out "carbon tax" in the debate would do well to read this article and realize that Iggy was right when he said "Albertans care about their environment as much as any Canadians."

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 3:36 a.m.  

  • Don't get too excited there AG. As you pointed out you can't pick up a paper these days without finding articles on the environment.

    Scroll back about a year and the same could be said about healthcare. Do ya think there may be a correlation?

    My take is that the MSM has been flogging this horse for various reasons.....not the least being a self perpetuating form of mass hysteria.

    The fact that well meaning Albertans are willing to accept some form of taxation on carbon usage to contribute to a cleaner Canada is no surprise to me.

    The key word being useage. But then again the MSM has been soooo busy for years painting Albertans as redneck assholes that the recent poll confuses all those that have been handed their opinions.

    The NEP will never happen again...but we might just be able to make some ground on ACTUAL emissions reductions if the hyperbole can be kept in check.

    I see the environment/energy file as the real make or break issue for this "nation". The previous post notwithstanding.


    By Blogger syncrodox, at 3:53 a.m.  

  • The Sun chain is falling down on the job.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:26 a.m.  

  • Not surprising. I've always claimed that anyone over 30 (and probably anyone over 20) can look around them and literally see how globabl warming has changed the local environment. In Toronto, for example, you didn't used to have to dump out your bird bath for fear of West Nile.

    By Blogger bigcitylib, at 7:54 a.m.  

  • A carbon tax is not the same type of regime as the NEP at all.

    However, I find this reassuring. Hopefully it will show people outside the province that we Albertans can indeed think independently regardless of what the neo-cons in power would say.

    By Blogger kurichina, at 8:08 a.m.  

  • Whoa, more people care about the environment than about health care?

    At last, a substantive debate about something other than health care could appear in an election. What a welcome change.

    I'm weary of all those who believe that Albertans just don't give a damn about the environment - it's clearly not true, as this poll suggests, and hopefully that image will wind down to one more balanced and fair in the next few years.

    Great info, CG.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:57 a.m.  

  • I think a carbon tax would be welcomed and accepted if the revenue was specificly ear-marked to support research.

    Furthermore, given the complacency of the Conservative government on this issue, the Environment is a huge opportunity for Liberals.

    I'm not saying that because polls are indicating that it is becoming a major issue.

    It is responsible public policy and should be developed in detail and then communicated to Canadians.

    That is how we demonstrate that we are ready to govern.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 10:22 a.m.  

  • I wonder if you cued the question with the fact that a possible tax would be 20 cents per litre of gas, or a dollar per megajoule on natural gas if the answer would be so positive.

    While the question does have an 'increase the price', the emotional cue nearest to the end of the question is energy efficiency and help the environment.

    A couple of weeks ago, a similar poll was done by another firm, ~70% support direct taxes on energy use, while only 30% supported a tax on gasoline of home heating fuels.

    When you ask fluffy bunny questions, you get happy go lucky answers. People support a tax as long as it is not on them.

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 10:29 a.m.  

  • Similar findings in the US, although they are obviously in a different situation with energy security.

    Here's what NY Times reporter Thomas Friedman said in a Newsweek interview in June:

    "How do you get it there?

    We did this poll in the Times three or four months ago with three questions. “Do you favor a gasoline tax?” Eighty-five percent against, 12 percent in favor. Second question: “Would you favor a gasoline tax if it made us energy independent?” Fifty-five percent in favor, 37 percent against. “Do you favor a gasoline tax if it’ll cut back climate change?” Fifty-nine percent in favor, 34 percent against. If you just frame the issue for people the right way, suddenly they look at it totally differently. Those numbers are really quite amazing. It means two thirds of the people in America are ready to support a tax that not a single member of Congress has actually come out in favor of. Imagine if the president of the United States made this his issue!

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 10:41 a.m.  

  • BCL: West Nile is caused by global warming? That's a new one. What next? Malaria?


    By Blogger lance, at 12:01 p.m.  

  • Lance,

    It appears that BCL is not alone in this opinion, as reported in this Washington Post article:

    Climate Change Drives Disease To New Territory
    Viruses Moving North to Areas Unprepared for Them, Experts Say

    "Global warming -- with an accompanying rise in floods and droughts -- is fueling the spread of epidemics in areas unprepared for the diseases, say many health experts worldwide. Mosquitoes, ticks, mice and other carriers are surviving warmer winters and expanding their range, bringing health threats with them."

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 12:18 p.m.  

  • I agree with Kyle Olsen. The way this questioned was asked may have played a major role in determining the outcome. As a prof I had in undergrad always used to say "If you ask people if they want puppies they will say yes"

    By Blogger Kyle Carruthers, at 12:38 p.m.  

  • "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"

    When you end the question with the words HELP THE ENVIRONMENT you will get a lot of yes's.

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 12:51 p.m.  

  • Everyone is for a carbon tax until you tell them it means higher gasoline taxes.

    You mean you want to tax my carbon?

    By Blogger godot10, at 1:02 p.m.  

  • I meant

    Most everyone is for a carbon tax until they realize it means higher gasoline prices...much higher gasoline prices.

    By Blogger godot10, at 1:06 p.m.  

  • The individuals taking issue with the wording of the question are missing an important point: the polls indicate relative support across the country, the highest being in Alberta, BC and Atlantic Canada. Presumedly, everyone was asked the same question.

    Also, the polling indicates a trend over time. Presumedly, similar types of questions were asked over the past 15 years by Ipso Reid. From the same article:

    "National support for a carbon tax was slightly lower at 52 per cent, while 59 per cent of Atlantic Canadians agreed.

    The Ipsos Reid survey for CanWest News Service and Global Television also showed that Canadians are more concerned about the environment than they have been at any point in the last 15 years."

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 1:32 p.m.  

  • Anonymous Green - An unsourced quote from a newpaper does not show any link at all between Global Warming and West Nile.

    In case you hadnt noticed, 90% of Canada was inhabited by both birds, and mosquito's, thousands of years ago. Why dont you outline for us what % of the Candian deep north has seen recent exposure to mosquito's and birds where there has been none for a thousand years?

    Also, A carbon tax is really not similar to the NEP at all. The NEP punished Alberta, and Alberta alone, to subsidize Eastern Canada. Ottawa will never get away with another scheme like that (beyond the transfer payments they already get away with).

    By Blogger Joe_Canada, at 3:53 p.m.  

  • Joe Canada,

    I'm no expert on West Nile, nor did I express an opinion on the matter. All I suggested was that "BCL is not alone in this opinion."

    My source of research was googling "west nile global warming". The Washington Post article was one of many hits. If you click on the graphic on the right entitled Viruses and Warming you will find an interesting tale of how the virus has spread from 1999-2005, taken from data from the WHO.

    I didn't think it important to have a sourced quote, I just picked the article because it was interesting, and included a reference to Canadians.

    For sourced quotes, here's another article written by a couple of PhDs also obtained in the same google search: Feeling the Bite of Global Warming


    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 4:39 p.m.  

  • Oh yeah, the big question is how much are people willing to pay. A gasoline tax may not be popular at this point yet but less noticeable measures to improve the environment would probably be palatable to most.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:08 p.m.  

  • It seems to me that around the time of ratification, the anti-Kyoto lobby suggested that, in addition to the loss of 400,000 manufacturing jobs in Ontario (b.s.), the price of gasoline would rise to, get ready, $1.10 per litre (or thereabouts).

    As we have subsequently found out, a significant rise in gasoline prices to these levels and well above (post Katrina and other Middle East issues) did lead to a lot of bitching in the short term, but over time, people did accept the higher rates.

    I suspect a carbon tax at the pump will have a similar effect. Initial shock and outrage, lobbying, followed by gradual acceptance over time. And some political fallout.

    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 5:49 p.m.  

  • AG- If you have no opinion on the matter, Im not sure why you are posting Newpaper articles supporting one opinion, especially one that argues without any research, support, or even sourced quotes.

    Furthermore, the sourced article has nothing to do with the spread of West Nile to NYC, as BCL was offering. Did you find anything to answer the question I posed?

    Continuing, what evidence do you have that meeting Kyoto would NOT have caused job loss (your alleged BS)?
    And why do you think products with inelastic demand should be used as a judge of acceptance of domestic policy?

    By Blogger Joe_Canada, at 6:03 p.m.  

  • JC

    I posted the newspaper article in response to this comment: "BCL: West Nile is caused by global warming? That's a new one. What next? Malaria?"

    It's not a "new one" - my only point.

    I thought BCL was talking about Toronto, not NY. Call me stupid, but I guess I got this impression from this statement: "In Toronto, for example, you didn't used to have to dump out your bird bath for fear of West Nile."

    I think if you review my entry, I was referring to the loss of "400,000 manufacturing jobs in Ontario" not as you suggest: "would NOT have caused job loss (your alleged BS)?" A difference in order of magnitude. Are you at all familiar with Demand Side Programs such as BC Hydro's PowerSmart, that has been in effect for many, many years? They spend money to help individuals, businesses and industry to save energy. If not, do some research and get back to me. See how many jobs were lost there as a result. Then extrapolate.

    In terms of "products with inelastic demand", I think its highly relevant because those are the products that would be taxed for carbon.


    By Blogger The Anonymous Green, at 6:34 p.m.  

  • I'm a little wary of polls like this - especially since the guy on the street equates a "carbon tax" with stickin' it to those "big, bad" oil companies.

    Ask the same people if they're willing to see the price of gasoline or natural gas rise by a third or more - as companies pass on the cost of those taxes to their consumers - then you might well hear a different story.

    By Blogger Rhys Courtman, at 8:19 p.m.  

  • I absolutely match with your post.

    By Anonymous www.natalia.biz, at 2:20 p.m.  

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