Toronto, ON –  A majority of Canadians reject different regulations for oil sands companies that would see them reduce global warming emissions less than other industry sectors, according to a new poll released in advance of the Council of the Federation meeting, which starts Wednesday in Regina.
“Canada’s Premiers and Ottawa must come to an agreement about how to write the rules for global warming pollution cuts,” said Matt Price, Program Manager with Environmental Defence. “A majority of Canadians want those rules to be fair in requiring equal cuts across economic sectors and provinces.”
The poll found that sixty per cent (60%) of Canadians wanted pollution cuts to be the same, twenty-four per cent (24%) supported different rules for oil sands companies, and sixteen per cent (16%) didn’t know. Albertans were evenly split on the issue, while Quebecers – at seventy-two per cent (72%) – were the most likely to want parity.
The federal government is now designing a new cap and trade system for Canada, and is planning to release rules for different sectors between now and the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. Alberta and Saskatchewan have been lobbying for different rules under the label of “regional sensibility.” A cap and trade system reduces emissions by putting limits on pollution and allowing companies that beat their limits to sell – or trade – the difference to other companies who exceed the limits. The limits decline over time.
Fifty-two per cent (52%) of those surveyed also favoured slowing down oil sands development and investing instead in clean energy job creation, while over twenty-nine per cent (29%) agreed with increasing oil sands production for the jobs and revenues it creates across Canada. Nineteen per cent (19%) didn’t know. Sixty-two (62%) per cent of Albertans, though, favoured increasing oil sands production.
The poll also found that a large majority of Canadians –seventy-two per cent (72%) – believed the design of government regulations like Canada’s cap and trade system should happen in public, with nine per cent (9%) supporting development in private so that the federal government does not have to make as many compromises with provinces and other interests. Nineteen per cent (19%) didn’t know.
Finally, there was a roughly even split of Canadians on the issue of whether provinces should accompany the federal government to international climate negotiations. Forty-six per cent (46%) believed the provinces should be allowed to attend alongside the federal government, while forty-one (41%) per cent believed the federal government should go alone. Thirteen (13%) per cent didn’t know. Quebecers – at sixty-nine per cent (69%) – were most likely to favour provincial participation. Both Alberta and Quebec have been lobbying the federal government on this issue.
The poll was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies between July 27 and 28, 2009, among 1,012 randomly selected Canadian adults.  The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. To download the poll results, visit www.environmentaldefence.ca
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For more information or to arrange interviews contact:         
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) -323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)