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Majorities say both climate action, oil and gas growth should be top priorities for next government

It is a debate often styled as “either or.”

Either the federal government commits to policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions in order to meet international obligations to battle the effects of climate change or it focuses on growing Canada’s natural resource sector. But against the backdrop of a putative federal election call, Canadians are indicating they see the conversation not as “either or”, but “both, and”.

With both issues top of mind among persuadable voters, attention is turning to party platforms and expectations for the next government.

A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds seven-in-ten Canadians (69%) say climate change should be a top priority for whichever party forms government after the October vote, including four-in-ten Conservative Party supporters.At the same time, six-in-ten (58%) say that oil and gas development should be a top priority alongside climate action.

While different Canadians may lean further to one side of the “economy-versus­-environment” discussion, in most cases this does not mean they’d ignore the other side completely. Among those who said the next federal government should prioritize climate change efforts, three-quarters (75%) want at least some investment in the oil and gas sector. And among those who say the energy industry should have the next government’s main focus, four-in-five (80%) would still wish to see at least some investment in climate change efforts.

Asked which party is best to lead Canada on the climate issue, the Conservative Party, bolstered by its own loyal vote base, is viewed as best by 25 per cent. About the same number give the advantage to the Green Party (23%), while others are divided between the incumbent Liberals (18%), the New Democrats (10%) and uncertainty (18%).

 More Key Findings:   

  • Action on climate change is seen as a top priority for the next federal government by more than seven-in-ten women of all age groups. Seven-in-ten young men (73%) say the same, while this priority falls below six-in-ten for men over the age of 35.
  • While 86 per cent of leaning and decided CPC voters oppose the federal carbon tax, the centre-left parties support it by a wide margin. At least 71 per cent of Green, NDP and Liberal voters support the carbon pricing program.
  • Three-quarters of Canadians (76%) say that the federal government, whichever party it may be after October 21, should follow through with the plan to ban single-use plastics by 2021. The policy enjoys majority support across all four major federal parties

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