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Is Canada’s population really divided over energy production?

According a public opinion survey, Canadian's are more or less on the same page about energy and the Alberta oil sands

Feb 17, 2017

by Alberta Venture Staff


Photograph Kris Krüg

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s late-November announcements regarding Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion and Enbridge’s Line 3 pipelines were greeted with promises of revolt from some environmentalists and made Canada feel like a country at war with itself. But the rhetoric is belied by the results of an Abacus Data national public opinion survey which shows that Canadians are more or less on the same page about energy and the Alberta oil sands.

“Canadians generally support continuing to develop our oil resources and few discriminate their support across different types of development, be it conventional, oil sands, or off-shore production. Quebecers are the most resistant, but even a majority in the province support the development of the oil sands.” – David Coletto, CEO, Abacus Data

Albertans present an interesting paradox: They are the most supportive of developing conventional oil but people who voted NDP – and Alberta has the country’s only NDP government – are generally less supportive.

Another key takeaway is that regional difference in demand outlook isn’t extreme, even comparing Alberta to Quebec. In Alberta, 38 per cent foresee less demand, while in Quebec, 54 per cent do. A difference, for sure, but in Alberta, 90 per cent support the oil sands while in Quebec, only 52 per cent do.

Critics of Alberta’s oil sands focus their ire on the higher-than-average GHG emissions that come from production. But the Abacus poll shows that, for most of these people, opposition to the sector in general precedes opposition to the oil sands in particular: just nine per cent of Canadians support conventional and offshore oil but not the oil sands.

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