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Canadian Attitudes toward Energy and Pipelines

CBC commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of Canadians’ views on the economy, energy, and the environment.

Click here for the full report: Full Report (March 17, 2016)
Click here for the data tables: Data Tables (March 17, 2016)

Overview of Findings

Results reveal that Canadians are torn between a rising environmental ethic and deep anxieties about the economy. While there is strong sympathy for greater regulation and investment in a post carbon future, there is equally broad recognition that our energy resources are a critical ingredient of our economic future. There is also a sense that this will remain important in the future, albeit less so. The relative commitment to the environment or economic priorities is fairly evenly matched across several indicators; however, it is very divided on regional and partisan lines. Alberta and Saskatchewan are much more focused on the economy and the energy industry. British Columbia and Quebec are the most environmentally focused. We also see a huge gap across Conservative supporters and everyone else on most of these questions.

On the specific issue of pipelines, we see some interesting and once again divided views. Most agree that pipelines, while not risk-free, are the safest mode of transporting the oil and gas that will continue to have to move across the country. Quebecers are the least impressed with pipeline safety but they also have the most dire assessment of rail safety in the aftermath Lac-Mégantic. Very few believe that road, rail, or water are particularly safe modes of transporting oil and gas.

In terms of various pipeline projects, there are fairly stable views on whether to support or oppose these projects. These views tend to lean to support, but with significant opposition, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia.

The National Energy Board, as the regulator, does not receive strong confidence from the Canadian public. While trust in various players to develop energy policy is mixed, the federal government does reasonably well (less so in Alberta). Outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan, most believe the provinces should have a say in whether pipelines cross their territory.

All in all, we see a conflicted Canadian public who are trying to reconcile the heightened consensus about the threat of climate change with a clear recognition that energy will remain a critical ingredient of our economy, and that pipelines are the best of a not very appetizing array of choices to move oil and gas. The deepening gloom about the economy may be further confusing what is a divided outlook on these critical issues.


CBC commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of Canadians’ views on the economy, energy, and the environment. This survey was conducted online using EKOS’ probability-based research panel, Probit. Our panel offers complete coverage of the Canadian population (i.e., Internet, phone, cell phone), random recruitment (in other words, participants are recruited randomly, they do not opt themselves into our panel), and equal probability sampling. All respondents to our panel are recruited by telephone using random digit dialling and are confirmed by live interviewers. Unlike opt-in online panels, Probit supports margin of error estimates.

The field dates for this survey are February 16-26, 2016. In total, a random sample of 2,098 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error for a survey of this size is +/- 2.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, and age). All the data have been statistically weighted by age, gender, and region to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.

4 comments to Canadian Attitudes toward Energy and Pipelines

  • Barry

    The legend for “Support for aiding Alberta” on page 15 is mislabeled and currently has all options listed as “Strongly Support” or “Somewhat Support”.

    • Barry

      Not only that but the image on page 18 for “May 2015” under “Support for Energy East” totals to “101” while the following survey “February 2016” totals to “100”.

      Clearly someone made a mistake in this report.

      • Hi Barry,

        Good catch on the mislabeled legend! We have corrected the report in response to your comment.

        The numbers on page 18 are correct. Due to rounding, the figures won’t always add to 100. In this case, the numbers for May 2015 are:

        Strongly oppose: 22.7%
        Somewhat oppose: 15.0%
        Somewhat support: 30.6%
        Strongly support: 25.9%
        DK/NR: 5.9%
        Total: 100.1%

        However, when we round to the nearest whole number, we get the following:

        Strongly oppose: 23%
        Somewhat oppose: 15%
        Somewhat support: 31%
        Strongly support: 26%
        DK/NR: 6%
        Total: 101%

        EKOS Resesarch Associates

  • Nathan N

    Would be very interesting to see the geographic regions which are strongly against supporting A.B. I’d bet my bottom dollar they are the very regions that benefit most from National equalization payments coming from Western provinces!

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