Saturday, January 27, 2007

The $64,000 Question

The media has been hyping the environment as a major political issue over the past few months and today's Globe featured a complete front page spread, pages upon pages of articles, and even green trim on the title. Inside, they publish the results from the latest Gregg poll:


How likely is it that you would vote for your local Green Party candidate if an election were held within the next year?

Very likely 4% [clearly the 8-11% numbers we keep hearing are soft then]
Somewhat likely 16%
Somewhat unlikely 21%
Very unlikely 47%


What is the most important issue facing Canada today?

Environment 26% [up from 4% a year ago]
Health care 18%


Best Plan?

Keep trying Kyoto 63%
We'll never reach Kyoto goals - go with made in Canada plan 30%


Could global warming harm future generations?

Yes 83%
No 14%


Which Party has the best plan for the environment?

Liberals 16%
CPC 12%
NDP 9%
Green 27%
BQ 2%


Also...


76 per cent are willing to pay to have their houses retro-fitted to become more energy efficient
73 per cent would reduce the amount they fly to times when it is only absolutely necessary
72 per cent would pay more for a fuel-efficient car
62 per cent are willing to have the economy grow at a significantly slower rate
61 per cent would reduce the amount they drive in half.


But...

Only 34% support higher gas and fuel prices


SO...

It's abundantly clear that the environment has exploded onto the scene over the past few months as THE issue in Canada. Because it's rise as a major issue has been so fast, this leaves us with many questions, none of which I'll attempt to answer right now [that's for a future post]
. But I'd be curious to read what other people think about this, in the comments section:

1. Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue? Something pushed it over the
tipping point, but what?

2. Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should?

3. Would Canadians actually vote for the Green Party? If so, who does that hurt the most?

4. Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?

5. How much are Canadians actually willing to pay? [I don't for the life of me believe that 61% of Canadians would cut their driving in half]

6. If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?

31 Comments:

  • "Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue?"

    A combination of things.

    1) An Inconvenient Truth - I was trying to buy a copy for someone as a Christmas gift but it was sold out in almost every store.

    2) Warm weather in Central Canada, strange weather in B.C.

    3) Dion winning the Liberal leadership after campaigning as the 'Green' candidate.

    3) The Cons fumbles on the issue, and subsequent public attempts to change their image on the topic.

    "Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should?"

    Most (90%) of those who say they care do, but willingness to make sacrifices varies.

    "Would Canadians actually vote for the Green Party? If so, who does that hurt the most?"

    Green Party will get 5-10% of the vote in the next election. Probably hurts the Liberals the most as it might cost them some close seats in Ontario.

    "Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?"

    I think it was already a significant ballot question in the last election. Will be more so next time around. Less so if the Conservatives manage to regain some credibility on the issue.

    "How much are Canadians actually willing to pay?"

    Depends how visible the costs are. Most would probably support a greater cost increase resulting from emissions standards on industries than they would on something more visible such as a gas tax.

    "If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?"

    Besides the Green Party, you mean?

    Depends if you mean most votes added, or who benefits more from the increased Green Party vote. Factoring it all in, I'd guess the Liberals would benefit most, but it's hard to say.

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:41 PM  

  • 76 per cent are willing to pay to have their houses retro-fitted to become more energy efficient

    61 per cent would reduce the amount they drive in half.


    etc...

    2. Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should?

    I think the complete lack of action on the above options makes it pretty clear that it's the latter.

    1. Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue? Something pushed it over the tipping point, but what?

    From a search of the ProQuest database for Canadian media references to "global warming":

    2003: 3,437
    2004: 4,213
    2005: 6,267
    2006: 10,857

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 11:54 PM  

  • Andrew Coyne argued recently that the goal of Conservative environmental policy was to neutralize the issue. If only 4 percent more voters think that the Liberals have a better environmental record than the Tories, it looks like the job has already been accomplished.

    Also, note how soft that support for environmental policy is. Sure, they'll tell pollsters how, theoretically, they'd sacrafice for the environment. But when the question gets to gas prices, a real expense they can calculate, they start to shy away. If any government actually enacted serious, carbon-cutting, economy-slowing policy, how long would people really put up with it?

    By Blogger jgraham99, at 12:23 AM  

  • The greens getting votes clearly hurts the NDP most.

    The NDP used to get 3 different types of voters.
    1. Those who voted for it for social policies (health care, unions),
    2. Those 'tree huggers' who voted for the environment, and
    3. Those who voted for them as the protest party. (True, some people voted for them based on more than one of those issues).

    People who value the environment are turning away from the NDP in huge numbers either to the greens, or perhaps to give Dion a chance and hope he keeps his promises. And people who used to vote NDP for protest are tiring of Jack, and seeing increased credibility of another party that is fresher to vote for in protest. This means the NDP's main group of supporters still remaining is the group who believe they are better than libs to deal with social issues.
    Since the 2006 election, polls have shown the conservatives up at times, the liberals up, and the green up. But, there has yet to be any poll to my knowledge that has the NDP up. They are in the most trouble in the next election. Their support is receding faster than Layton's hairline.

    By Blogger ktr, at 3:04 AM  

  • Okay here goes:

    I am tempted to take my digital camera and snap pictures of the massive line-up of vehicles (mostly SUV's) with one driver in each vehicle at various Tim Horton drive-thru's. I might very well post a picture of traffic gridlock on the Deerfoot Trail in Calgary, again, thousands of vehicles and in most cases, single drivers who could have taken the bus I suppose.

    I make these two points for a simple reason that has nothing to do with Canada's love affair with cars and SUV's and everything to do with the fact that solutions already exist (like taking the bus) and Canadians by and large reject that solution.

    The tipping point was Katrina. The level of concern over the environment is soft because each day , hundreds of thousands of Canadians would rather drive to work and do an hour of gridlock rather than take the bus. They'd rather wait in a big line up of cars and trucks to buy a double double and a chocolate dip doughnut rather than make the coffee at home, slap it in a travel mug, walk two blocks to the bus stop and take the bus to work each day.

    When I see a question a poll suggesting that Canadians are willing to make personal sacrifices for the environment, I just remember the gridlock on the Deerfoot, the line up at the drive thru and a thousand other *sacrifices* that Canadians could already be making, but for some strange reason, refuse to do.

    I'm not saying that automobile emissions are the primary issue here, I am using these examples to highlight my skepticism with a poll like this one and to reinforce my belief that Canadians are too lazy to make personal sacrifices.

    I don't think Canadians really understand the gravity of the kinds of sacrifices that would have to be made in order to achieve the Kyoto targets, moreover, I suspect that most Canadians don't even know what the Kyoto targets are or what we actually agreed to in the first place.

    If we are truly serious about cleaning up the environment and meeting our Kyoto targets, the country is going to have to commit itself to a wholesale change in everything from our personal choices to the way in which we conduct business, manufacture goods, design our communities and more. In short, that whole "national vision" thing. The kind of commitment and sacrifice that we employed during the second world war when food, gas and staples were rationed.

    How many Canadians are willing to lose their jobs so we can transform industry? How soon can those jobs be replaced with "green" jobs? Where's the money going to come from to pay for a national program of this magnitude?

    No federal party has the courage to actually talk about the kinds of sacrifices that Canadians have to make. They're too busy sniping at each other than to actually talk about how these changes will impact Joe and Suzy Middle Class Voter.

    Each party is disingenuous: rather than sit down together and say, "hey, let's change the face of the country, transform industry, reboot the economy for a green tomorrow" in a non-partisan group hug kinda way, they accuse each other of not doing enough or "stealing" each other's initiatives.

    Our supposed national concern for the environment is soft concern at best. Canadians don't understand the magnitude of the kinds of sacrifices that will have to be made, the media isn't asking questions that can inform Canadians of how meeting our Kyoto obligations by 2012 can be done or how it will impact the average person, and still we have gridlock and line-ups of SUV's at Timmies while Canadians feign concern over the environment as they sit in their gas guzzlers at rush hour or drive their Hummers to 7-11 for a quart of milk and a pack of Player's Extra Light when they could have just as easily walked the block and a half to the store.

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 7:11 AM  

  • ...walk two blocks to the bus stop and take the bus to work each day

    I'm not a CCD (climate change denier), but I would like some accurate numbers on how many Canadians have a bus stop within two blocks of their front door. Extra bonus points if the buses that stop there take the person anywhere near where they actually want to go.

    By Blogger pheenster, at 10:43 AM  

  • 1. Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue?

    While we've been hearing about it for a long time I don't think that people really started believing in it until they saw the warm weather this winter, and the freak storms in BC. The fact that they're finnally seeing proof of global warming makes them that much more conserned about the government doing nothing.

    2. Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should?

    A bit of both. I think a lot or people feel conserned but they're not ready to change their habbits until someone tells/forces them to, while others are already looking for more environmentally friendly ways to do things.

    3. Would Canadians actually vote for the Green Party? If so, who does that hurt the most?

    It hurts the NDP the most as they've always been seen as the most environmentally concious, and the Liberals the second most as they're now trying to cultivate a green image, but it hurts everybody a bit.

    4. Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?

    Depending on what happens in parliment leading up to the next election it could very well be the ballot question. If Harper continues as he has people will still be highly worried and be looking for someone who looks like they will do something. If Harper puts in some kind of plan, I think a number of people will be satisfied even if the plan does not go far enough.

    5. How much are Canadians actually willing to pay?

    It depends on the penalties and the incentives. If there was suddenly a tax imposed on gas gussling vehicles like SUV's people would be using fule efficent cars in no time. At the same time people would be more willing to spend more on an energy efficent appliance if they see themselves getting money back on it through a tax credit.

    6. If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?

    The obvious answer would be the Greens. However it also helps the Liberals as long as Harper is unable to salvage his image on the envrionment.

    By Blogger A View From The Left, at 10:47 AM  

  • Big issue because it is the media's new darling. Now, whenever there is a storm anywhere in our quadrant of the globe it's a news story. Global Warming is a godsend to slow news days.
    I am uncomfortable as well with relating the Environment to Global Warming. There is a lot more to it than that. There is hard pollution, air pollution, acid raid, toxic levels, etc...I hope these don't get lost in the fray because imo they are far more important and pressing.
    Canadians like to hear how wonderful we are, but in reality, the majority of us do not want to make the sacrifices.

    By Blogger NorthBayTrapper, at 11:47 AM  

  • People love hysterical the-end-is-near stories for some reason. The environment was big some time ago-rain forest depletion,hole in the ozone,Earth Day. We've had national unity crisis/distinct society, Y2K. imminent nuclear holocaust, peak oil etc.
    The real story is how opinion polls refelect whatever "crisis" bored jounalists focus on.

    If we had an open honest debate on "global warming" (why is the ice cap melting on Mars? Martians driving SUV's?) it would be less of a concern.

    The Green party will take young and urban votes away from the NDP and Liberals. It will have more of an effect on their dollars per vote financing than seats won. Dion is a fool to want the Green party included in debates and the backroom boys will be having him flip-flop on that soon.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 12:49 PM  

  • For people to take the bus, the bus needs to run every 5 to 10 minutes. In the suburbs, most buses run every 30 minutes. It's not cost-effective for the transit agencies to run more because people aren't taking them, and people aren't taking them because they aren't frequent.

    For a massive shift to the bus/streetcar/train/subway, there needs to be a massive investment in such. Frequent service is a must.

    The new Viva buses in York Region (suburbs to the north of Toronto) are such a massive success because they run every 5 to 10 minutes. Transit is an investment. You need to sink in money for it to work.

    By Blogger LeoPetr, at 1:33 PM  

  • 1. The question is not "Why did the environment suddenly become a major issue?" but rather "Why did the media suddenly make the environment such a major issue?" Everyone here knows that if the media decided Quebec separation was the issue to follow nobody would be talking about the environment.

    2. Canadians don't care. Canadians know that on some level the media is being cynical on the issue so they can't get worked up about it in a positive way.

    3. The Green Party's numbers will not change. They will only be supported by people who either a) actually care about the environment or b) are protesting the big three.

    4. This will be a ballot question, but in a negative sense.

    5. Canadian's are not will to put their money where their mouths are.

    6. It will help the Liberal party the most because the Conservatives are perceived as anti-environment.


    Canadian's, like most people, will not change their ways easily. Canadians will take the path of least resistance. Taking myself as an example, when I buy my next house/car/etc. I will buy based on price/options/location etc. The only way I will get an environmentally friendly house or car is if it fits into my purchasing criteria (i.e. It costs the same as non-environmentally friendly house or car and fits into my selection criteria). That said, if I could get a hold of some money to make my house more energy efficient I would do it. Not because it is good for the environment but because I will see some tangible results for me such as lower heating bills, fewer drafts and so on.

    I have a question for you, why would I buy a Honda Civic hybrid when a new "normal" Civic costs considerably less, holds more, is cheaper to maintain, has a longer life span and is good on gas?

    By Blogger John, at 3:30 PM  

  • I think it's all media buzz. Not to say that the issue is unimportant, but a comparable amount of information concerning environmental issues has been in the public domain for decades.

    I think polls like this demonstrate the public reacting to issues, not leading issues, and this is the flavour of the month. Or, if we analogize with healthcare, flavour of the next 5 years or so.

    And none of the questions was sufficiently blunt, e.g.,
    would you support measures that result in a 25% reduction to your net income?

    By Blogger matt, at 5:53 PM  

  • The tipping point was a Conservative government. Hurricane Katrina, An Inconvenient Truth, and an unseasonably mild winter all happened last year - before and during the 2005/6 election.

    The Conservatives raised the profile of the issue by musing about leaving Kyoto, and also by promising a green plan.

    Secondly, the Conservatives have no roots in the various NGO's that promote environmental issues. Despite the crappiness of the Liberal record, those NGO's have been working overtime (probably largely because they don't want to see the Conservatives in power, period.) Regardless of what Harper does, there is negative press from the Sierra Club or some similar agency. This may be in part because they know Harper will NEVER kill the tar-sands (he likes to mention the phrase energy superpower). The Liberals, on the other hand, have nothing to lose with an old-fashioned "screw Alberta" strategy.

    Thirdly, the existence of a relatively competent (and not scary) Conservative government meant that for the Liberals, there was more to be gained by galvanizing the left. In the leadership race, they effectively endorsed such a strategy by choosing Dion over Ignatieff.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:10 PM  

  • Oh and the other effect (a more long-term one) is demographic. There are 3 million new eligible voters under the age of 25 (so born in 1982-1989). They grew up with Captain Planet, and a lot of other consciousness-raising stuff. The youth voting percentage is up too, so that adds to the effect.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:17 PM  

  • "Only 34% support higher gas and fuel prices"

    So what do people expect: voluntary compliance? The only way to get people to drive less is to charge more.

    "73 per cent would reduce the amount they fly to times when it is only absolutely necessary"

    Actually, according to Flannery's WeatherMakers, which is basically the partisan handbook for the more radical environmentalists, flying actually reduces the impact of the greenhouse effect. The disruption causes extra cloud cover which noticeably cools the Earth. Flying cools the Earth!

    1. I don't know
    2. Canadians care
    3. No. (And I'll add: hahaha)
    4. Yes.
    5. I'd say upwards of 3$/L before we start trading in our SUVs.
    6. No one (has a plan). Yet.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 9:10 PM  

  • The liberals have a miserable record on the environment and now we have saviour Dion, yes? Did you also read Rex Murphy in the same paper, gotta love that man, do I trust politicians? Not in this lifetime...ciao

    By Blogger Rositta, at 11:24 PM  

  • Dan, this Q&A format is the greatest thing I've ever seen. More, please - much more!

    1. Why did the environment suddenly become such a major issue ? Something pushed it over the tipping point , but what?
    - Great question - I'm not sure, but those numbers from LR&Centre convince me it is media created. That's nice, but it's too bad - the media don't seem to be aware that "the environment" is not simply "global warming". It's just a piece of the picture. The weather this winter, whether crazy cold in BC or crazy warm in Ontario, has a lot of people wondering what is going on. The ball was rolling, but I really believe based on my family and friends that this winter has accelerated the roll.

    2. Do Canadians really care, or are they only telling pollsters it's a big issue because they feel they should ?
    - Let me tell you in no uncertain terms, that Canadians care. So long as Canada wins the global lottery and gets a trillion dollars (US) and can afford to fix healthcare, lower taxes, buy more chocolate, and stop greenhouse gas emissions, Canada will be there, and Canadians will be on board!!!

    3. Would Canadians actually vote for the Green Party? If so, who does that hurt the most?
    - Trick question! It hurts no one, because it only gives democracy more options! Okay, but seriously - I say the NDP, in a perfect-storm sense when married with Jack Layton. If Ed Broadbent was leader, it would hurt the Liberals more, Dion or no Dion.

    4. Is this a ballot question? Or is it the new healthcare?
    - You know, it's tough to guess. Not a ballot question - not yet, anyway. The new healthcare.

    5. How much are Canadians actually willing to pay? [I don't for the life of me believe that 61% of Canadians would cut their driving in half]
    - They're not. Christ, vinegar and baking soda are two superb cleaning agents that don't contain any chemical by-products, and they're a third of the cost of cleaning products that you should not drink - people keep buying the fancy stuff, though.
    No Canadians are going to cut their driving time. In five years, they'll have a bigger menu of cleaner cars to choose from - that will make a difference.

    Canadians will not pay more - they'll pay less. When they have to pre-purchase electricity on swipe cards, with meters that show (and stun) them clearly how much power they are using, they use a lot less. When they have the option to park their (urban) car and use efficient and cheap transit, they do. When they see at a neighbour's that a $25 000 geothermal heating and cooling unit will run on $20 a winter for decades, that will be the replacement unit they'll choose when the furnace goes belly up. And when gas prices go up, they'll plan on combining soccer practice with groceries, and maybe that visit to Aunt Roxanne's, too.

    6. If this becomes a ballot question, which party does it help the most?
    - I suppose the Greens. Probably.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:55 PM  

  • 1) If I had to pick one "tipping" factor, it would be strange weather.

    2) I won't question people's sincerity without cause, so I'll accept that people are genuinely concerned. Whether that concern will last, or will be swept aside by the next political issue or scandal, is a different question.

    3) Not sure if this will help the Green Party much, or if Dion will pull the rug from under their feet. On the other hand, if the Greens can't win a seat the next election (whenever that may be), with everyone talking about the environment, I don't see how they ever will.

    4) Could go either way for now.

    5) The capitalist in me says that the more political (read: government dependant) this issue becomes, the less willing people will be to take responsibility for their personal actions. I agree with you. People won't be cutting their driving by half anytime soon.

    6) If Dion plays his cards right, it should be the Liberals. He's making it the party's prime issue, so if he can't win with it, the party's in trouble.


    7) No, there was no seventh question. However, I did write about this issue a couple of weeks back, so this is my way of shamelessly promoting my blog. You can read my thoughts on the environmental issue in Canada here:
    http://kirmalak.blogspot.com/2007/01/right-reasons.html

    By Blogger - K, at 6:39 AM  

  • Some good observations that tend to confirm my suspicion about the environment emerging as the top priority for Canadians - it's soft support at best and most people don't truly understand the ramifications of meeting our Kyoto targets.

    A couple of things though -

    leopetr said:

    >>For people to take the bus, the bus needs to run every 5 to 10 minutes. In the suburbs, most buses run every 30 minutes. It's not cost-effective for the transit agencies to run more because people aren't taking them, and people aren't taking them because they aren't frequent.<<

    If most buses run every 30 mins and Canadians are content to sit in their gas guzzlers in gridlock for upwards of two hours each day, we are in trouble. Perhaps it is the fact that Canadians have to walk a few blocks to the bus stop and then wait twenty minutes for a bus that's the problem - hell, that time could be spent waiting fifteen minutes for a double double at a Tim Horton's drive thru line up.

    Pheenster said:

    >>I'm not a CCD (climate change denier), but I would like some accurate numbers on how many Canadians have a bus stop within two blocks of their front door. Extra bonus points if the buses that stop there take the person anywhere near where they actually want to go.<<

    Likely few - perhaps most Canadians have a bus stop within five or six blocks of their homes so if people can walk two blocks why can't they walk five or six - particularly when they have to wait 30 mins for the bus to arrive. Fifteen of those thirty mins could be spent walking to the bus stop, increasing their heart rates, getting a little workout thereby improving health, reducing wait times at the hospital or the cost of caring for diabetes and other conditions that occur as a result of Canadians poor lifestyle choices.

    There is great peril for whoever is the government of the day when we start talking about the kinds of environmental changes that are necessary to reduce emissions, reduce dependence on oil, reduce how many people drive to work each day as opposed to public transit. You start tinkering with the structure of industry that employs hundreds of thousands of voters and you're asking for a free ticket to opposition land. Economy trumps environment every time and I suspect that were Canada in the throes of a recession, the environment would be perhaps as important as predicting how many seats the NDP can pick up in Alberta during the next federal election.

    I keep hearing about how green jobs will be created to replace those jobs lost during our grand transition to an environmentally conscious country, but I don't see a plan for who is going to create the jobs, how long it will be for the jobs to be created, whether the income generated from those jobs would be comparable to that of existing jobs that would be lost. Let's say that we decide to mess with auto manufacturing, for example - those thousands of workers have mortgages to pay and families to feed - where are the jobs going to come from to help them meet each month's financial obligations? Will it be EI?

    Look, I am all for being environmentally conscious, but the rhetoric surrounding this issue speaks of apocalyptic scenarios without talking about how people are going to pay their bills while we prevent the apocalypse. Nobody is asking these questions and frankly, that's a failure on the part of the media who is hyping it and our national leaders who are really more interested in obtaining votes for appearing more green than the next guy.

    If our economy tanks in the next year (and I think we are long overdue for an recession, but that's just me) I believe that Canadians might be more interested in finding their next job rather than finding out which political party has the greenest platform.

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 7:20 AM  

  • most people don't truly understand the ramifications of meeting our Kyoto targets

    Couldn't agree more with you on this. I don't think most people even really understand Kyoto period. They know it is 'good' and 'environmental', but that's it. Personally, I feel the idea of sending money to other countries to buy the right to pollute is nuts. People are onboard with Kyoto as far as (the government) reducing emmissions, but that's the extent of their support.

    Honestly, I think if Dion won power and committed us to Kyoto, it would be a long-term disaster for the Liberal Party. That's just what they need - a contract to sign huge cheques that we get nothing out of.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 8:44 AM  

  • Started a blog about the politics of climate change in Canada. Feel free to read and comment.Climate Change Canada

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 10:09 AM  

  • Re: Questions 1 & 2:

    The enviro was actually a top issue back in the late 80's / early '90s, around the time of the Rio conference and Gro Bruntland's (sp?) "think globally, act locally" push. It was around the time when the Mulroney govt's "Green Plan" came out.

    Something I heard at the time, which I've heard now, is that the enviro is one of those issues that moves towards the top of the list of important items when other issues are not as pressing.

    The example used was the economy: if it is in the doldrums, people are more concerned about their job, the jobs of their family members, the eco health of their employers, etc. If however the economy is cooking along relatively well - as was the case before the early-90's recession, and as it is now - people tend to focus on other issues, including the environment.

    I think that to some extent, the importance people put on the environment now is based on greater consciousness, freaky weather, Al Gore, et al.

    Also, Jim Harris was smart enough to run a Green Party candidate in every riding, which helped his party get over the public-funding threshold and be taken seriously (or at least more seriously) by the punditry at large. That in turn made the GPC more attractive to someone like Elizabeth May, a more media-friendly person, once Harris stepped down. All of that has made the Green Party - and therefore, "green" issues - more of a permanent fixture on the political landscape.

    But I also think that for better or worse, if the economy begins to trend downwards in a meaningful way (God forbid), "green" issues will become less important than they are now. Maybe not as "less important" as they were in the mid- to late-90's (I honestly don't think the enviro was a huge issue at all in the '93, '97, '00 and even '04 elections), but less so than right now.

    As for the question of how big an election issue will be ... that's a good one, and I don't know the answer. Like I said, for several elections, the enviro wasn't a big issue as all, as best as I can recall. If "something else" (a recession? PQ winning in Quebec? a new terrorist attack - again, God forbid) comes along, the enviro may sink down the list again.

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 12:39 PM  

  • JH; I think you're right in the sense that if the economy slowed, the environment would become a lot less pressing for Canadians. However, even 2 or 3 years ago, when the economy was going good, it only registered 3 or 4% in these polls.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:10 PM  

  • As for what Canadians will do, a lot of the things Canadians said they'd do (ie. drive/fly less), they can do now without any government intervention/incentives. Yet, by answering that they would drive less, they imply they're driving more than they need to be so...by definition it kind of shows people are all talk.

    I'd love to see a 50 cent a litre gas tax in Canada. It'd never happen in a million years, but it'd be great public policy.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:12 PM  

  • Well, we're paying about 25 cents per litre already...

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 5:54 PM  

  • Likely few - perhaps most Canadians have a bus stop within five or six blocks of their homes so if people can walk two blocks why can't they walk five or six...

    If you had said most urban Canadians, you might be getting closer to an accurate statement.

    By Blogger pheenster, at 10:23 PM  

  • Actually, most Canadians are urban. I really don't know the stats, but it's possible that most Canadians do live within 6 blocks of bus stop. I wonder.

    (I'm not arguing - most of the bus stops they would live within range of offer poor service -- I'm just saying, is all, and expressing curiousity)

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 10:27 PM  

  • >>If you had said most urban Canadians, you might be getting closer to an accurate statement.<<

    Right then, urbanites can walk the six blocks for the bus, those who are rural can revert to horse and buggy.

    By Blogger Left Right and Center, at 11:57 PM  

  • I think "tipping point" is the wrong question. The issue really isn't taken all that seriously and it's vague. For example what issue is meant by "the environment". That question could very well mean different things to different people.

    I think we have yet to hit a tipping point on the issue of global warming.

    By Blogger Jose, at 6:23 AM  

  • Although the environment is important to Canadians, I think people are reluctant to vote for a one issue party like the Green Party. People might care about the environment, but they also care about health care, education, etc and picking a more balanced party like the Liberals (or even the Conservatives if you are of that slant) is seen as the better way to go. The parties have an environmental plan (I'm being kind to the CPC here) and they still have plans to deal with other important issues to Canadians, plus a history of governing Canada, whereas the Green Party still hasn't won a seat.

    By Blogger Justin Tetreault, at 11:02 AM  

  • Conservatives are quick to blame the Liberals for lack of progress on the Kyoto file.

    My suggestion:

    Go to Google

    Type "Ralph Klein Kyoto"

    and read the articles for the past decade

    There are thousands of quotes and a lot of evidence as to who was obstructing progress on the Kyoto file.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 5:23 PM  

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