A new poll commissioned by Canadians for Clean Prosperity shows that nearly half of potential swing voters in Ontario support a price on carbon, even if it costs them more—and with a provincial election coming up June 7, the opposition Progressive Conservative party ignores that sentiment at its peril.
The poll by Forum Research found that 55% of “somewhat likely” Conservative supporters believe Ontario should be doing more to fight climate change.
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“The public seems pretty onboard with this stuff, but that’s not what you’ve been hearing,” said Forum President Lorne Bozinoff. “It’s easy to say you’re in favour of everything if there’s no cost to it. What’s really critical is so many people who are saying, yes, even if it makes things more expensive, I support a price on carbon.”
The poll “finds that while carbon pricing is distinctly unpopular among core Progressive Conservative voters, nearly half of those who are leaning blue (but are not yet decided) for the next election say they support or strongly support a price on carbon, even if that means higher prices for consumers,” TV Ontario adds. Yet all four remaining candidates for the provincial Progressive Conservative leadership “have pledged to dismantle the current cap-and-trade system, built by the provincial Liberals, and to oppose any federal carbon tax that the Trudeau government would seek to replace it with.”
Canadians for Clean Prosperity Executive Director Mark Cameron said hostility to carbon pricing might be enough to install a candidate as PC leader, but it won’t help them win the general election.
“That core support, that 34% or so that’s opposed to a carbon tax, is roughly what the Tories keep getting in every election,” he told TVO. “In the last majority government, they won 45%. This is the difference between winning the 29 seats they always get and forming government.”
The poll also found that a straight carbon tax (albeit a revenue-neutral one, with no potential to raise dollars for clean energy investments) is more popular than Ontario’s current carbon cap-and-trade system across all regions of the province, and across all parties except Kathleen Wynne’s governing Liberals.
“What I found particularly interesting is that solution seemed to appeal across the board, not just Liberals, NDP, and Greens,” Cameron said. “Even Doug Ford fans thought a revenue-neutral carbon tax was the best option.”
The poll, conducted February 22-23, found the Conservatives with 42% support, followed by the New Democratic Party at 23% and the Liberals at 20%. But Bozinoff said carbon and climate might open up an opportunity for the Liberals to shore up their vote.
“I don’t know how many of them are going to be single-issue voters, but I’m going to predict this will be a point of distinction during the campaign, because Liberal support for this is huge.”