May 21st, 2019

Carbon tax support growing locally: poll


By Mabell, Dave on March 15, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

As part of Canada’s response to climate change, carbon-use taxes are being collected across the nation. British Columbia was the first to take that initiative, which has now become a federal program as well.

But a carbon tax remains a highly divisive issue in Alberta, with most people responding according to their political preferences. A new poll shows most New Democrats support the Alberta government’s tax and rebate program, while those who would vote for the United Conservative Party are the most strongly opposed.

“Partisanship is the best predictor of opinion,” says political scientist Faron Ellis, who also oversees the ongoing Citizen Society Research Lab surveys at Lethbridge College.

“A substantial majority of provincial NDP voters support the plan,” he reports – 77.5 per cent. Liberals also give it approval, with 59.1 per cent in favour.

But Alberta Party supporters stand 73.3 per cent opposed, while 85.5 per cent of United Conservative Party supporters are against. UCP leader Jason Kenney has vowed to scrap the province’s carbon tax, making Albertans subject to a federal tax instead.

In Lethbridge, however, far fewer people would favour scrapping the government’s carbon tax and rebate initiative. Support has increased to 47.3 per cent – compared to 35.7 per cent two years ago – while opposition has slipped from 64.3 per cent in 2017.

Ongoing investment in southern Alberta’s wind and solar energy systems, along with consumer rebates for energy-saving lighting and heating systems, may have changed some residents’ views.

Ellis cites another factor: rebate cheques in the mail to lower-income families.

“It’s increasingly popular here,” although not by people with a high income.

While more than 60 per cent of Lethbridge respondents indicating an income below $40,000 a year agreed with the program, more than 55 per of those reporting more than $100,000 per year were opposed.

“Lethbridge is bucking the trend,” he says, with younger people including post-secondary students concerned about the environment – and cashing those cheques.

With many university students using the UPass on Lethbridge Transit, he adds, they’re not filling up their vehicles as often.

The Lethbridge study, which involved telephone interviews with 882 randomly selected adults, is considered accurate within 3.3 per cent, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

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