Harper Could Lose Next Election From Poor Energy Policies

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A recent poll has bad news for the fossil fuel industry. It does not look good for the Conservative party’s chances in the next election either. Primer Minister Stephen Harper’s “environmental” policies have drawn much criticism, especially in BC, where municipalities, First Nations, and environmental groups are fighting against the imposition of two oil sands pipelines. According to a Nanos poll, 62% of Canadians see protecting the environment as more important than the price of energy. Harper may lose the next election if energy is the key issue.

Parliament Hill - Courtesy tsaiproject, CC BY SA, 2.0

Environmental issues were strongest in two provinces. Up until now British Columbia has been a Conservative bastion, where 21 MP’s were elected in the last election, but 67.4% of the respondents said the environment was more important. Harper’s government also has a toehold in Quebec, where the rate rose to 69.4%.

The worst news, for the Federal government, comes from Ontario. To some extent, its present majority comes from a sold block of 71 seats in that province. The energy question is likely to grow more intense, as plans for the $12 billion Energy East pipeline progress. Yet only 29.5% of the respondents in Ontario preferred low energy prices to environmental protection.

Preference for low energy prices was strongest in the Maritimes (33.1%) and oil rich Prairies (31.9%), but was still a minority opinion.

Harper’s government cannot afford to lose seats in these two regions. Aside from New Brunswick, where they hold 8 seats, the only Conservative MP in the Maritimes comes from PEI. The modern Conservative party largely arose in the Prairies, where 25 MP’s come from Alberta, 13 from Saskatchewan, and 11 from Manitoba.

Screenshot 2014-10-29 07.44.13

Nanos contacted 1,000 Canadians by telephone and online, between October 18 and 21. There were 300 respondents in Ontario, 250 in Quebec, 200 in the Prairies, 150 in BC and 100 in the Atlantic provinces.

More than 91% said they were familiar with climate change and fossil fuels.

62% said they were aware of CO2 capture and storage, but support for this idea was lukewarm. 44% of the respondents were opposed, 18% unsure and only 38% positive or somewhat positive. Support for this technology was strongest in Ontario (44.2%) and the Prairies (40.3%) and weakest in Quebec (32.6%), the Atlantic provinces (33.1%), and BC (33.4%).

IF the carbon capture process reduced greenhouse gases and was considered environmentally responsible,” 77% of the respondents would support this technology. (i.e., most respondents are not convinced this technology works.)


The majority of Canadians (53.2%) favour new taxes on businesses, based on the volume of CO2 they emit. This idea was strongest in BC (60.1%), Atlantic Canada (57.5%), and weakest in the Prairies (48.8%) and Ontario (51.8%).

There was not a single province in which a third of the population was opposed to the idea of a new business tax, though Ontario came close (32%).

Only 11.4% of Canadians are in favour of imposing a 5% tax on “items such as electricity and gasoline, natural gas and heating.”

Bloomberg quotes Nik Nanos as saying, “What’s interesting is that Canadians are cross-pressured. On the one hand they don’t want new consumer taxes but at the same time they have environmental aspirations.”

He doesn’t get it. The Canadian government gives more than $1.4 billion in tax subsidies to oil, coal, and gas companies. Many think it is time industry paid their share.

The federal government’s handling of energy issues has led to a loss of credibility.


As Chantal Hébert of the Toronto Star pointed out earlier this year, “Harper has made it impossible to have a national conversation on the economy without talking about pipelines, but just as impossible to debate those without addressing his climate change record.”

“The loss of public support, I think it borders on being crippling,” Michael Cleland of the Canada West Foundation told the BOE Report.

Harper may lose the next election if energy is the key issue.

Photos above, descending from the top:

  • Parliament Hill — Courtesy tsaiproject, CC BY SA, 2.0
  • Kinder Morgan & Enbridge Can Suck My Pipeline — Courtesy Chris Yakimov, CC By SA, 2.0
  • The May 10 Climate Rally in Toronto – courtesy Kevin Konnyu
  • Prime Minster Harper announcing his government’s “Environmental Plan” earlier this year

Source: ECOreport. Reprinted with permission.

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales