A solid majority of Canadians and 60% of Ontarians strongly or somewhat oppose provincial governments going to court to challenge the federal government’s carbon pricing plan, according to a 1,000-person poll conducted by Nanos Research.
“Canadians generally don’t want provinces to go to court to fight the federal government in terms of stopping a federal carbon tax,” said pollster Nik Nanos. “I think it’s one of those things where there’s a default view where people say, ‘Are we going to have a patchwork environmental regime in Canada, or are we going to have a carbon strategy of some sort?’”
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The result indicates that Ottawa “has a solid base of support, though with clear pockets of opposition, as it moves to impose a carbon pricing plan in provinces that refuse to adopt their own system,” the Globe and Mail states. And “Canadians appear to have misgivings” about upcoming legal action by Saskatchewan and Ontario premiers Scott Moe and Doug Ford.
“When we look at the carbon tax, it’s not as if it’s a complete slam dunk,” Nanos noted. “The reality is a third of Canadians are mushy on this—either somewhat support or somewhat oppose it.”
But “60% of respondents supported the need for a carbon tax to encourage Canadians to consume less fossil fuels, with 41% strongly endorsing that policy,” the Globe notes. “Support ranged from 72% in Quebec to just 41% on the Prairies, where residents are more reliant on fossil fuels for jobs and to heat their homes and power their electricity consumption. In Ontario, 63% of respondents either strongly or somewhat supported the carbon tax.”
A couple of days before the poll release, the Globe called on the Trudeau government to do a better job selling its own carbon pricing plan.
“When Justin Trudeau’s Liberals announced their plan to set a minimum national carbon price that each province would be expected to meet, they could take comfort in growing national and continental consensus on the need for climate change action,” the paper editorialized . “Fewer than two years later, the Liberals are running into the political winds on this issue, rather than riding them,” with Ford campaigning successfully on his opposition to carbon cap-and-trade, Alberta’s United Conservative Party leading in pre-election polls, and the Trump administration now “actively encouraging carbon emissions’ south of the border.
“None of this is reason for Mr. Trudeau to abandon his commitment. On the contrary, it makes his government’s leadership on what should be considered one of humanity’s defining challenges—arresting man-made climate change that threatens the planet’s very future—all the more needed,” the editorial stresses. “But it’s time to get more serious about selling Canadians on that need.”
That means abandoning the “apparent complacency” that has crept into the file, even as carbon pricing opponents make gains at the polls.
“At a time when she could be devoting almost every available minute to convince Canadians of the need for the federal standards set to take effect at the start of next year, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is already moving on to campaigning against plastic straws,” the Globe states. As that unfolds, the government is “at risk of allowing critics, notably the Official Opposition Conservatives, to define the strategy as a needless and punitive tax grab—and of those critics framing any changes, such as recently-revealed tax measures to soften the blow for large emitters, as recognition that the entire plan is a bust.”