Canadians Don’t Share Federal Government Priorities on Energy and Economy, Opinion Research Shows

The average Canadian doesn’t place the economy above other concerns like education, health care and environment according to a a public-opinion survey analysis performed by the Privy Council Office (PCO), a group of the Prime Minister’s top advisors, in January.

As the Canadian Press reports, the research suggests major federal government policies don’t line up with Canadian priorities.

The analysis followed public opinion research of 3,000 survey respondents and 12 focus groups, conducted by NRG Research Group, on behalf of the Finance Department. The PCO is not obligated to routinely make its research public.

The research showed Canadians have “little enthusiasm” for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, “even among supporters,” the January 25 PCO report on the findings states. Since then the pipeline was federally approved.

Individuals participating in the focus group research, conducted across Canada from B.C. to Nova Scotia, citied concerns over potential oil spills off the coast of British Columbia.

“Detractors worry about the environmental consequences in the event of a spill, particularly as a result of a tanker accident off the B.C. coast.”

“There is an appreciation that increased market access for oil will be economically beneficial but there is still a desire to do so in a more environmentally safe manner.”

Participants said they wanted to see less export of Canadian resources, suggesting they be processed and refined here in an environmentally responsible way.

Megan Leslie, environment critic for the NDP, says the report “shows that the NDP have been saying all along, that B.C. MPs, Conservative MPs, are going to have to answer to this.”

“There is not support for this project in British Columbia and across Canada,” she told the Canadian Press.

“It’s also really heartening to see that people spontaneously talked about resource development through a sustainable lens. They talked about refining and processing here in Canada. People get it,” she said.

When asked for comment on the research, David Barnabe, spokesman for the Finance Department told the Canadian Press, “the use of quantitative (telephone survey data) and qualitative (focus group) research allow the Finance Department to get a clearer sense of the evolution of the public mood towards the state of the economy, Canadians’ sense of personal economic well-being and government actions in the economic arena.”

Carol Linnitt is a journalist, editor, illustrator and co-founder of The Narwhal. Carol has been reporting on energy and environmental…

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