A new poll suggests that Canadians are largely supportive of the federal government’s decision to exempt home heating oil from its carbon price, and would be happy to extend the relief to all forms of home heating oil.
The ruling Liberals last month announced a three-year reprieve from carbon pricing for homeowners who rely on oil, as well as funding to help people switch to electric heat pumps.
The abrupt reversal by a government that considers tackling climate change a core priority has sparked an outcry in Ottawa over a controversial measure that has proven politically useful on both sides of the aisle.
Climate activists have denounced the reprieve as a short-sighted measure that risks causing permanent damage to the Liberal government’s efforts to limit the impact of climate change.
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, meanwhile, has vowed he would completely scrap the carbon price as prime minister, rallying his supporters at events across the country with cries of “get rid of the tax.”
Just over half of respondents to the Leger online survey said they were aware of the exclusion, while 48 percent said they were unaware of it.
Despite this, 63 percent said they supported the decision and only 37 percent said they were opposed to it. Support was highest among those under 44.
The poll also suggests that most people would be happy to see all forms of household fuel exempted: 70 percent of respondents said they favored an expansion, although this fell to 58 percent among those under 25 years.
According to Natural Resources Canada, more than 1.2 million Canadian homes use heating oil, and about a quarter of them are in Atlantic Canada. Nearly a third of Atlantic Canadian homes rely on heating oil, meaning the policy has a disproportionate impact in this region.
In fashion now
The Liberals have been accused by their critics of trying to save votes in Atlantic Canada.
About 78 per cent of Atlantic Canadians who participated in the survey said they were satisfied with the decision. Opposition was strongest in Quebec, where 43 percent of respondents said they disagreed.
Albertans were most likely to support an expansion of all home heating fuels, at 78 per cent, while 40 per cent of Quebec respondents thought the opposite.
Asked about their overall understanding of the carbon pricing mechanism, about 44 percent expressed a fair or very good understanding, while 56 percent said they understood it poorly or not at all.
Men were more likely than women to report understanding the price of carbon.
Léger surveyed 1,531 people online and asked them various questions about the price of carbon. Online surveys cannot be a*signed a margin of error because they do not sample the population randomly.
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