Premier Rachel Notley unveils Alberta’s climate strategy in Edmonton
Alberta’s carbon tax is nearly two months old and it still has little visible impact at the pumps, because prices are quite low.
Gasoline here cost eight cents below the national average on Wednesday, despite the new tax of 4.49 cents per litre.
But that’s no help to the NDP. A big majority of Albertans still hate this tax. A new Mainstreet Research poll for Postmedia also reveals profound dislike of other core elements of the NDP’s climate-change policy.
This appears to be an unshakable reality that the NDP will have to deal with in the next election, if the party is to have a hope of winning.
Sixty-four per cent of Albertans are opposed to the tax, while only 34 per cent support it.
Only Edmonton, the NDP heartland, shows anything close to majority support. Forty-nine per cent like the tax, 50 per cent are against it, and one per cent aren’t sure.
Calgary clocks in at 61 per cent opposition and 36 per cent approval. Outside the two big cities, 70 per cent are against, 29 per cent in favour.
A new provincewide tax is never going to be popular, especially when the NDP didn’t say a thing about it in the 2015 election campaign.
But two-thirds of Albertans have already received rebates. Many got more money than they will pay in carbon tax over the course of a year.
David Bloom / Postmedia
Despite that attempt to buy acceptance, the tax has majority support in no part of the province. Nearly everywhere, it’s not even close.
The New Democrats’ rationale for the tax is that it’s helpful to the climate, wins “social licence” for pipeline projects, helps diversify the economy, and — although they don’t say this specifically — redistributes money to lower-income families.
The social licence part looks increasingly dangerous for the NDP.
It helped win federal cabinet approval for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
But the B.C. New Democrats could win the May 9 provincial election, and then follow through with leader John Horgan’s pledge to obstruct construction.
The argument is already all over Twitter; if even Premier Rachel Notley’s B.C. friends won’t honour the licence Albertans are buying, what was the point? It’s a question that could cost her the government.
Other climate-change attitudes reveal a backlash that helps explain the NDP’s dismal third-place provincial standing in an earlier Mainstreet poll.
One shocker is that only 52 per cent of Albertans believe climate change is caused by human activity.
Once again, Edmonton skews the numbers upward. Sixty-three per cent of Edmontonians are believers.
The Calgary belief count is 47 per cent. Forty-one per cent think warming is natural. Calgary is even lower than the rest of the province, where 51 per cent are believers.
Larry Wong / Postmedia Network
The poll question doesn’t ask if climate change is real, only whether humans are causing it. The result shows that nearly half of Alberta’s population doesn’t think we mortals have anything to do with that.
For people who feel that way, the next logical step is complete rejection of the NDP’s climate-change agenda on grounds that it’s fundamentally pointless.
Sure enough, only 31 per cent of Albertans agree with the NDP’s 100-megatonne hard cap on eventual oilsands emissions. Fifty-four per cent were opposed, and 15 per cent not sure.
In Calgary, the support rate for the emissions cap was just 36 per cent. Outside the major cities, it’s a rock-bottom 22 per cent.
One part of the climate-change agenda — the phase out of coal-fired power — wins healthy majority support from Albertans.
Overall, 58 per cent of Albertans support the move. The support level is 75 per cent in Edmonton, where air quality is sometimes directly affected by nearby Wabamun plants.
Fifty-eight per cent of Calgarians like the coal phase-out. Support is 53 per cent in the rest of the province.
The New Democrats will be happy with that part. The rest of the poll at least gives them a notion of the huge political problem they face, if they care to be honest with themselves.