Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Canadians - We're a Curious Bunch When It Comes to Athabasca

We may be a nation of bobble-heads. Ask us just the right question, the right way, and watch us go.

Last week Ipsos-Reid released a poll that found 64% of Canadians, including 47% of Albertans surveyed, believed that development of the Athabasca Tar Sands should be halted until a clean method of production could be found.

Today there's a Harris-Decima poll claiming that 57% of Canadians, including 70% of Albertans, back the Tar Sands and believe there are more benefits than drawbacks to the venture.

Not everybody was impressed by the Harris-Decima polling. From the Toronto Star:

Mike Hudema, of the environmental watchdog group Greenpeace Canada, said the poll doesn't reflect environmental concerns expressed by Canadians in other surveys.

He said the Harris-Decima questions tend to focus on the oilsands or nothing, and on carbon capture and storage as the sole means to reduce pollution. That, he said, leads to skewed results and empowers political leaders pushing poor ideas.

"It's time our leaders stop deceiving people with false solutions like carbon capture and storage and instead put forward and invest in a green-jobs strategy that will put Canadians back to work building the green economy," he said.

"Unfortunately, both the provincial and the federal governments seem to have their heads too far buried in the tarsands to listen to anything."


Beijing York said...

I'm fed up with polling results driving public policy and news editorials. Good governance is not a commodity to be sold on the market. Sound and insightful public debate has been replaced by party branding, political sound bites and general marketing of policy products being pushed by politicians and media elite.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, I agree totally. Now, what are you going to do about it? I'm on the verge of just giving up but I suspect I'm just going through a process that many others have followed before me. Jack, Mike and Steve - a pox on all their houses!

Beijing York said...

For awhile, in the 1990s, I had faith in NGOs, unions and other activists being able to push our governments to respond to public outrage. The momentum was building, especially on the anti-globalization front.

But even in domestic governance, there war far more pressure to discuss issues of importance to many Canadians such as poverty, health care, environment, etc. These issues were actually discussed with some thoughtfulness in the House of Commons and in the media.

The US and Western powers used the post 9-11 emotional trauma and fear to seriously curtail public dissent and diversity of opinion. The current crop of free speech warriors are a crock of sh*t, when all they want is the right to use bigoted and racist talking points to bolster what our governments are ALREADY doing. They serve as a crude propaganda front for government policies.

The only ray of hope on the political front comes from Quebec in my view. Provincially you have Quebec Solidaire nipping at the PQ heels who in turn are nipping at the Liberal heels so as to at least keep the goalposts/public dialog in check, if not move them/it to more progressive spheres. Galloway's breakaway party in the UK is also serving to keep Blair/Brown in check.

So I guess my takes is that we need a new federal party as well as more responsive provincial parties.

Anonymous said...

Actually, these polls both confirm that there is a solid core of Canadians who do not want the TarSands development to go ahead without an environmental policy in place, i.e., 43%-64%. This is something that should politicians should pay attention to because the minute there is any research confirming health effects for humans such as contaminated drinking water, these numbers will soar. Also, carbon sequestration will do little to solve the problem of waste water leaching into the water table from the tailings ponds, to say nothing of the loss of boreal forest. We desperately need political leadership to set forth an environmental policy for the TarSands. I'm waiting, Iggy.

Fish said...

"There are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics" - Mark Twain

I supopse that there are also Polls. They only ever say what the pollsters want them to say, but they give an air of legitimacy to things so they sound convincing.