Sunday, November 12, 2017

Can Alberta Conservatives Win in 2019 and Deny Climate Change?

Abacus Data has a new on-line survey of 1534 Canadians randomly selected from a panel of 500,000 Canadians.  They weighted the responses to "match census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada's population" demographics.

Not sure that weighting is reliable or even possible.  The Harper government killed the long form census so we likely don't have a reliable base line to weigh against.  Harper did not want reliable statistical evidence  contradict or undermine his political agenda.

Prime Minister Trudeau's first policy move after being elected was to return the long form census so it may be possible that Abacus Data has those results to "weigh" against.  Are the results using this methodology truly representative of Canadian opinion and values?  I don't know but I have a serious suspicion of on-line panel responses.  Are they anything more than allegedly random samples using questionable sources where certain responses are weighted to induce or deem a representative sample?

That said, lets take a look at what the survey purports to discover in the context of what political policy should be on climate change if a political party wants to be reflective of the will of citizens and victorious at election time.

Abacus says that back in the day "...politicians who chose to be early champions of action to reduce emissions were running a certain amount of political risk."  Carbon emission consequences were not fully formed in the public consciousness.  However, "Today in Canada, the risk equation has changed. the bigger political peril lie in appearing indifferent to a matter of widespread and growing public perception."

If this survey is accurate half of Canadian voters (49%) won't even consider a party or a candidate that doesn't have a plan to combat climate change.   Only 6% prefer a party or a candidate that ignores the issue.

If ignoring the issue of climate change is the same as denying it exists then are Conservatives, including those in Alberta, in trouble next election?  Yup, but only if climate change is an election is a significant enough issue in the minds of voters.  Consider this survey finding.  "The rest (44%) are 'willing to consider' a party that doesn't make the climate a priority."

Abacus' analysis on the 44% says "For Canada's conservative parties and candidates, an optimistic read of these numbers is that the Conservatives cold win without an ambitious plan given that half of the population don't consider this policy a pre-requisite for their support."  They go one to warn Conservatives that ignoring the climate change issues would be "tying on hand behind their backs, leaving them no room for error."

Environmentalism has changed in Canada and is now a "moderate" concern for 78% of Canadians.  Only 11% see themselves as "ardent" environmentalists and another 11% are indifferent.  There are 68% of us how attribute climate change to human and industrial causes, 21% say its just natural phenomenon and 2% are climate change deniers.

Obviously one way to defeat the KenneyCons (a.k.a. the UCP) in Alberta is to elevate climate change action into a ballot box issue.  How might that happen?  Well we need to be sure the voting public understands and appreciates the consequences of inaction or inept half-hearted action on climate change.

That may already be the case given the Abacus survey found 85% of us said "...taking no action on climate change will be severe, very severe, or catastrophic across a wide range of areas..." including agriculture, human health and insurance access, taxpayer costs of rebuilding after disasters to name a few.  The momentum is for action so says 63% versus 37% who want" to do little or nothing" about climate change.

Here's the kicker for inert Conservatives on climate change.  There is an enormous moral responsibility as 91% say taking action on climate change is a duty to future generations.  While 47% believe the damage is already done, we are past the tipping point and there is "...little chance we could  stop climate change at this point."  Contrast that with 87% who feel there is "already lots of evidence we can cut emissions when we try."  And, get this shift, 79% believe "...combating climate change will open up economic opportunities."

So the old-line HarperCons climate change denier stance is no longer tenable as sound political platform.  The environment is not perceived as a trade-off with the economy nor is it a barrier to growth, in fact is is a catalyst for growth, responsible sustainable growth and a competitive advantage. 

Will the KenneyCon UCP base in Alberta, that now is really the same old HarperCon fundamentalist  social conservative crowd, accept this shift in public perception and deny being deniers?  Will a UCP shift to rhetoric on responsible sustainable economic development that stewards the environment be credible to Alberta progressive voters?

I'm betting no to both propositions.  That doesn't mean the UCP loses the next election.  But making the integrated comprehensive mutually positive relationship between the environment and the economy as a major ballot box issue is a great start to defeating Kenney next election, 

If you want to dig deeper into the Abacus survey the link is here...

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