In the recent federal election, Canadians sent a powerful message to Prime Minister Trudeau and his governing Liberal party about the inadequacy of Canada’s climate action plan—Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Energy and Climate Change. The message was loud. And now most Canadians expect the newly-elected minority government to engage in a bolder more ambitious climate action strategy to deal with the Canadian and global climate emergency. We want climate crisis legislation.
Bolder and More Ambitious Action
This election produced a minority Parliament, but it’s a majority when it comes to the issue of climate change. Canadians who voted Liberal, New Democrat, Bloc and Green want to see the government put a high priority on taking strong action to fight climate change in the current term. — Craig Worden, President, Pollara Strategic Insights
In its recent letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Climate Action Network Canada (CAN-RAC) pointed out that “the next few years are crucial in responding to the climate emergency. This crisis requires transcending partisan lines for the benefit of all Canadians…We ask that you commit to collaboration with all Parliamentary colleagues.” The letter to the Prime Minister identifies five priorities for the minority government to implement to address the climate crisis.
Along the same line, Clean Energy Canada has emphatically identified what Canadians want and expect from their next government. A comprehensive large scale—more than 5,000 voters—national survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights, on behalf of Clean Energy Canada, shows that “most voters want climate policies that go beyond what was achieved in the last Parliament.”
The following shows the results of the survey found in a media release issued by Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada.
The Media Release
Given the increased prominence of climate change during this federal election, a large-scale survey of more than 5,000 voters was conducted to collect data about how the issue affected voters’ choices and what they expect from the new minority government.
Voters want bolder climate policies
During the campaign, the Liberals promised to introduce a number of new climate change measures, including legally binding targets that get Canada to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Two-thirds (67%) of Canadian voters want the new Liberal government to either “enact the climate change policies they campaigned on” (37%) or to “enact stronger climate change policies than they campaigned on—to do more at a faster pace on this issue” (30%).
The desire for stronger action is popular across party lines. Even one-third (33%) of Liberal voters want stronger climate policies than what was in the party’s platform, and majorities of Bloc (51%), Green (64%) or NDP (49%) voters share this sentiment.
The Conservative climate plan failed to connect with most voters
In June, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer unveiled his party’s climate change and environment platform. It received significant media coverage and commentary, and 69% of voters report being somewhat or very familiar with his plan.
It also had the most negative and sharply divided evaluations of all the major parties’ climate plans: half (50%) of voters said the plan aimed “to do too little, too slowly.” Among Conservative voters, 69% thought the party’s climate plan was “about right.” However, it was seen as doing too little by large majorities of Liberal (73%), NDP (74%), Green (78%) and Bloc (63%) voters.
Securing support in a minority Parliament
The survey asked voters if they supported or opposed the Liberal government adopting certain policies in return for other parties supporting and voting with them in a minority Parliament.
There is majority support nationally for five different proposals that have been discussed publicly by the NDP, the Green Party and the Bloc Québécois. The most popular proposal was “undertaking a large-scale jobs program that invests in clean energy and green infrastructure,” which is supported by 78% of voters, with only 15% opposed. Support for all of these policies is higher among Liberal, NDP, Green and BQ voters. A majority of voters in Alberta and Saskatchewan supported the jobs program, but were opposed to the other proposals.
Climate change mattered for voters who didn’t choose Scheer
The survey asked voters to rate 41 different issues—ranging from health care and the economy to SNC-Lavalin and abortion rights—in terms of the influence each had on their ballot decision. Each issue was rated on a 10-point scale, where 10 represented a major influence and 0 represented no influence at all. A majority (52%) of Canadians indicated that climate change had an important influence on their decision by assigning it a rating of 7 to 10, ranking it 8th overall.
The data shows that climate change was particularly important for the voters who didn’t choose Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Party. It was one of the five most important issues identified by Liberal (66%), NDP (68%), Green (82%) and Bloc (62%) voters. Climate was the only top-five issue common to voters for all of those parties, but it was not influential for many Conservative voters (25%).
Canadians have sent a clear message: anyone who wants to be prime minister must provide a meaningful plan to address climate change. You can’t secure a majority mandate in Canada while campaigning on going backward. Climate ambition is not only the right thing to do—going forward, it will also be a prerequisite for any party seeking power. —Merran Smith, Executive Director, Clean Energy Canada
Report | Exit Poll: Climate Change in the 2019 Canadian Federal Election
Canadians Vote A Strong YES For Bolder Climate Action
Alberta’s Tar Sands Expansion Is Killing Canada’s National Climate Goals
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It is indeed a clear message. So far Trudeau has been resistant to hearing it. It is late in the day for climate action. We need much more than rhetoric and token action. Buying a huge pipeline and violating the rights of indigenous people is something not even the conservatives have been able to get away with.
Unlike in the 2015 election, Trudeau now has a majority of Canadians asking for action on the climate. There is a political opportunity to jump on the climate bandwagon that will cement the support of both the NDP and the Greens for his minority government. The Liberals have a strong mandate to accelerate climate initiatives including carbon pricing targets.
I’m encouraged by what I see. Make that cautiously encouraged.
Thank you for the feedback.