Federal budget out of line with Canadian opinion on environment

March 23, 2011
Media Release

Ottawa/Toronto – Yesterday’s budget indicates that environmental priorities will continue to be neglected, despite the opinions of Canadians.

“The budget announcement is one more example to add to the heap of evidence that the government of Canada refuses to take the climate crisis seriously,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians. 

In contrast, the results of an Environics Research poll indicate that the Canadian public understand the climate crisis requires a change in economic, social, and environmental priorities.

“The failure in the budget to prioritize investments in green job expansion and to continue an important renewable energy program just doesn’t make sense,” says Donald Lafleur, 4th National Vice-President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. “Reducing emissions and generating good jobs should be an easy choice to make.” 

The Environics Research poll found that over 80 percent of Canadians believe the Canadian government should invest in “green jobs” and transition programmes for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift off of fossil fuels.

“This budget brings little change to the 20 to 1 ratio of National Defence spending versus spending on the Environment” adds Rick Arnold, Coordinator for Common Frontiers.

Here again the government is out of tune with Canadians.  Over 70 per cent of Canadians agree that money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change, according to the Environics Research poll.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did not directly refer the environment or climate change in his budget speech.  “Canadians understand that the interests of the economy and environment are interlinked, why doesn’t the Canadian government?” says Dorothy McDougall from KAIROS. 

Over 80 per cent of Canadians agree that the root cause of climate change is too much focus on economic growth and consumerism and that we need to have an economy that is in harmony with nature, which recognizes and respects the planet.

The poll was commissioned by the Council of Canadians, KAIROS:  Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Indigenous Environmental Network, Common Frontiers, Public Service Alliance of Canada and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity. 

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CLIMATE CHANGE POLL HIGHLIGHTS - read media release backgrounder here.

The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians conducted October 27 to November 1 2010 has a margin of error of +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.

87% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: "Industrialized countries which have historically produced the most greenhouse gas emissions, should be the most responsible for reducing current emissions.”

85% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: "The root cause of climate change is too much focus on economic growth and consumerism. We need to have an economy that is in harmony with nature, which recognizes and respects the planet.”

83% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that: “The Canadian government should invest in green jobs and have transition programmes for workers and communities negatively affected by a shift away from reliance on fossil fuels.”

77% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “There should be a World Climate and Justice Tribunal to judge and penalize countries and corporations whose actions have contributed climate change and damaged the environment.”

71% of Canadians strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement agree that: “The money spent on wars and the military would all be better spent on efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change.”