Despite all the economic doom and gloom, a new poll from Ipsos-Reid shows that Canadians’ concern for the environment has not waned. Indeed, creating an environmentally and financially sustainable model for economic development is top of mind. Three-quarters of Canadians, in fact, say Ottawa should only adopt stimulus measures that are environmentally sustainable. Below is the story that recently appeared in the Globe and Mail.

Canadians won’t quit on the environment

Globe and Mail, Saturday, February 27, 2009. Click here for original story.

BY JOE FRIESEN

Even in the worst of economic times, as job losses mount and gloomy headlines dominate, Canadians have not abandoned their concern for the environment, which was their top policy priority before the financial crisis took hold last autumn.

A new poll conducted for the Dominion Institute by Ipsos Reid shows Canadians are split on whether the need to stimulate the economy trumps environmental concerns.

Just under half of Canadians say serious action on climate change must wait until after the recession, while 57 per cent say Canada should take action on climate change right now, even if it means higher deficits.

“With the economic recession, it’s expected that concern for the environment versus the economy would drop off. Canadians are saying, ‘No, it’s still important, the government should still be focusing on the environment even though it has to stabilize the economy,’” said Sean Simpson, research manager at Ipsos Reid.

The poll is the basis for the third policy discussion at globeandmail.com’s public policy wiki, where readers can propose solutions, comment on other suggestions and vote on their preferred course of action. It is available at http://policywiki.theglobeandmail.com.

Across the country, support for environmental policies tends to increase the further one gets from Alberta. The oil-rich province, which has been hurt by the recent fall in commodity prices, is about 10 per cent out of step with the rest of the country on every environmental question, Mr. Simpson said.

Overall, 64 per cent of Canadians say development of Alberta’s oil sands should be halted until a clean method can be found, as do 47 per cent of Albertans.

Three-quarters of Canadians say we should only adopt stimulus measures that are environmentally sustainable, while 71 per cent say it’s more important for the government to focus on jobs than climate change.

“They’re saying maybe we can have the best of both worlds,” Mr. Simpson said. “Maybe instead of creating jobs in the tar sands we can create them in the environmental sector.”