Harris-Decima has released a poll on the opinion of Canadians towards the Alberta oil sands. The results are interesting.
Overall, 57% of Canadians believe that the oil sands bring more benefits than drawbacks, while 35% think otherwise. Regionally, and unsurprisingly, Alberta is most in favour of the oil sands, with 70%. Also unsurprisingly, Quebec is most opposed with 49% against, 39% for.
Far more interesting is the political breakdown. Conservatives have great faith in the oil sands, with 76% for and only 18% against. I'm a little surprised to see the Liberals supporting it in numbers that they do, with 57% to 37%. Another big surprise is the Green result (53% to 44% against). The Bloc number also shows that while Quebecers are not in favour of the oil sands as a whole, nationalist/sovereigntist Quebecers are even more so. Only 28% saw benefits in the oil sands while 63% only saw drawbacks.
What do these results show? Well, it shows that the environment is not a particularly important issue right now. The two major parties have supporters who, by a significant margin, see more economic benefits than environmental drawbacks in the oil sands. Even NDP opinion was split 44% to 49%. It seems that most Canadians are willing to take environmental risks for economic gain. Only Quebec is strongly against this view. Obviously, the Conservatives have their position on the issue as do the Bloc and NDP, but these numbers demonstrate that the Liberals should be wary of being too critical of the oil sands if they want to get elected.