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Monday, February 12, 2007

Dion or Harper - Who is the Greenest?

Angus Reid released a very interesting poll yesterday. Who is the greenest given “the heightened attention to environmental issues….” They conclude that “neither of the two major party leaders has effectively positioned himself as a champion of green causes.”

Dion (+31%) has a clear lead over Harper (+13%) in the answer to the question of “…who cares the most about the environment and global warming?” the really interesting stat on this question is a whopping 55% say neither (28%) or not sure (27%). The jury is clearly still out on which leader they think really cares enough…and enough is the acid test on this issue.

The fact that women are the most undecided or negative at 64% collectively is a key to future success. Every gender and age group is overall more negative or unsure of who is the leader who cares the most about the environment and global warming. The only exception is the 55+ age group where more are positive in their choice than negative. They favour Dion over Harper in a 34% to 20% difference but 25% say neither and 21% are unsure.

The climate change issue is going to be a ballot question if not the ballot question in the next federal election. It is seen as a serious threat to the world in the opinion of 73% of Canadians with Atlantic Canadians at the highest at 81% and Albertans the lowest but still a dominant 63%. Alberta is essentaily50/50 on if we need to set a domestic example or work on an international influence on changing behaviours of large emitters like China and the Americans. The rest of Canada is 2/3 in favour of cleaning up our own environment act first.

The way public policy forward is both carrots and sticks. Over 80% support government intervention to supply incentives for industry and subsidies to reduce public transit fares. The sticks are punitive measures with surcharges on SUVs and penalties for those who do not recycle.

Some will point out that these poll results show that Alberta appears to be out of line with the rest of the country. While that is true, it is mostly a matter of degree not where Alberta is on the actual positioning on the issues. All parts of the country are generally very similar in their opinions on “greeniness.” (I wanted to coin that word before Stephen Colbert did?)

The environment is the #1 issue with a bullet. Dion is the leader who is the most identified with it but he is far from really owning it. The trust and integrity aspects on who do we believe will do something and stay the course on this issue is a big part of the key to electoral victory.

Harper is hard on the environment redemption trail with his Eco-Trust announcement today. Will that redemption be granted by the voters or will they see reluctant opportunism based on a necessary political reaction to poll results. He was clearly a climate change denier. Now he has to prove he is "true green" and more than just a born again ecologist? Inquiring minds want to know!

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