Polarization over Energy and Climate in Canada

The Survey

This survey research demonstrates the nature of public opinion across a range of energy contexts in Canada. We distinguish between fragmented opinion, where public opinion is split but views are not strongly held, and polarized opinion, where public opinion is both split and concentrated at the extremes. Across a range of energy issues, we find areas of fragmented and polarized opinion, but also areas of agreement. We are also able to demonstrate expectations in Canada for future changes in the energy sector. 

The survey was conducted amidst growing concerns over polarization leading up to Canada’s federal election. A major concern for well-functioning democracies is the existence of a common set of values amongst the populace. While disagreement is to be expected in democratic systems, a public that is highly polarized (strongly divided, sharply contrasting sets of beliefs) reduces stability and creates potentially dysfunctional governance. 

The survey was conducted online between September 9-29, 2019 using Qualtrics Services. We surveyed 2,679 Canadians with five regional subsamples of over 500 (BC, Prairies, Ontario, Québec, Atlantic Canada).

The Analysis

Our initial findings focus on six primary areas, measured using a Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree).  Analyzing the data across several demographic categories (age, region of residence, partisan affiliation), we identify areas of moderate agreement (green), fragmented opinion (yellow), and polarized opinion (red).

 

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