Media Release

September 24, 2007 releases new Harris/Decima poll


 For Immediate Release
 September 24, 2007

Canadians Tell Harper:
Stand with EU, Not Bush on Climate Change

OTTAWA -- As Canada heads into critical international talks, more than six out of ten Canadians want to see the federal government aligned with European countries and other nations committed to establishing further Kyoto-like targets and not with countries like the US and Australia who want to break away from Kyoto-like targets.

According to a new survey of public attitudes conducted by Allan Gregg of Harris-Decima for, fully 61% of Canadians believe that Canada should be aligned on the international stage with European countries and other nations committed to establishing further Kyoto-like targets.  Only 25% of those surveyed believed that Canada should continue the Harper policy of joining nations like the United States and Australia who oppose setting future Kyoto-like targets.“

“Canadians want our Prime Minister to quit running with the wrong crowd when it comes to international efforts to combat climate change,” said John Bennett, Executive Director, “Entering this coming week’s meetings in New York City, the Prime Minister will need to weigh carefully whether he will continue to lead Canada away from Kyoto and take Canada into that small group of nations who oppose strong action to protect our environmental well-being.”

Findings demonstrate a widespread dissatisfaction with the Harper Conservatives’ climate change agenda despite a year of persistent effort by the government to rebrand itself on the issue and to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The Canadian public continues to hold a strong belief that Canada should remain part of the Kyoto Protocol. Recognizes that the government has failed to regulate industry and is abandoning the Kyoto.

Climate change and environmental issues have attained a degree of salience among the public that suggests it will remain a high priority for Canadians and could become an issue that drives future voting intentions.

The same survey also found that 8 in 10 Canadians reject the Harper government’s argument that tough targets are cause to abandon Kyoto. Indeed, an impressive 81% of Canadians believe that the difficulty involved in reaching our Kyoto targets is no reason to not keep trying and 67% of those surveyed believe that any shortfall in reaching our targets should simply be added to our post-2012 commitments – as contemplated by the Kyoto Protocol. There is overwhelming resistance to the idea that Canada should simply reduce its international obligations under Kyoto.

Moreover, 87% of Canadians rank ‘protecting the environment’ as either an important or very important issue when it comes to how they intend to cast their vote in the next federal election.

The survey also found that environmental issues and combating climate change in particular remain at the top of Canadians list of priorities.  Just as importantly, it appears that a year’s effort by the Harper Conservatives aimed at persuading Canadians of its commitment to tough action has fallen well short on a number of fronts. 

The environment is volunteered as the top-of-mind priority of 30% of those surveyed – more than twice the percentage who cited either health care (13%) or the economy (12%).

Canadians hold the oil and gas industry (76%) and the federal government (70%) and big business (70%) primarily responsible for taking tough action on climate change.

57% of Canadians oppose the federal government’s position that Canada should simply drop attempts to meet Kyoto targets as compared to 26% who supported that position.  Notably, 33% strongly opposed this policy as compared to only 9% who offered strong support.

49% of those surveyed rejected the notion that Canada should replace Kyoto with a ‘made in Canada’ plan as compared to 38% who supported the notion.

More than twice as many Canadians believe the Harper Conservatives 2020 timeframe is too late to meet our Kyoto commitments (58%) as compared to those who think its about the right timeframe (22%). 

“This poll indicates concerns about the environment today are both quantitatively and qualitatively different than they have been in the past. First, we have never witnessed this many Canadians volunteering the environment as the most important issue facing the country. Even more importantly, Canadians no longer view environmental problems as an external force effecting “nature”. They believe they have personally experienced climate change and therefore have a personal frame-of-reference for the issue that they lacked in the past. In short, they now see this as an existential issue that if we don’t act upon will effect the very survival of the planet.  Taken together. there is a stern and crystal clear message to Canadian political leaders in these results,” Canadians expect tough action on climate change and there is a deep and symbolic attachment to the concept of tough Kyoto-standards. An uncommon public consensus has formed on this issue and it would be unwise in the extreme for political leaders of all persuasions to ignore the political potency climate change could pack in future elections,” said Allan Gregg.

The federal government has also failed to persuade Canadians that their efforts to combat climate change are sincere. Fully 68% believe that the governments focus on climate change is motivated by a desire to win votes as compared to only 25% who believe their determination to fix the problem is sincere.

“If the government expects to persuade Canadians they are sincere in their efforts to combat climate change, they will need to take real action. A commitment to Kyoto-like targets and real regulation of the oil and gas industry to secure emissions reductions would show Canadians they their rhetoric is matched by real concern,” said Mr. Bennett.

To download a complete copy of the poll please go to

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For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Gregg contact John Bennett at: 613 291 6888 


 John Bennett
35 O'Connor Ste. 302
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5M4
613 291 6888 



Media Coverage:
 /  Globe and Mail  /  CTV Canada AM  (VIDEO)  /  La Presse  /  CBC News