Level of trust in the courts to decide on disputes for energy projects and climate change disputes not strong

The University of Ottawa’s Positive Energy program uses the convening power of the university to bring together academic researchers and senior decision-makers from industry, government, Indigenous communities, local communities and environmental organizations to determine how to strengthen public confidence in energy decision-making.

Mockup of the report.

The survey

New survey results (PDF, 1MB) from Positive Energy and Nanos Research examine levels of trust in the courts to settle disputes related to energy projects and climate change policy. The survey also offers updates on questions that Nanos and Positive Energy have tracked for several years, many dating back to early 2015.

The survey was an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,025 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between April 29 and May 3, 2021 as part of a Nanos omnibus survey. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.

The analysis

Canadians were asked on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 do not trust at all and 10 means trust completely, how much do you trust the courts to settle disputes over government decisions on energy projects? The same question was asked for climate policy. Responses suggest middling levels of trust in the courts, with mean responses of 5.0/10 and 4.9/10 for energy and climate, respectively. The data are broken out by region, age, and gender. Respondents were also asked to specify why they do or do not trust the courts. Political interference or bias are the most common concerns.

Additional survey questions gauged whether or not Canada is doing a good job on a range of topics, including federal-provincial cooperation, developing a long-term national energy vision, balancing local interests with national interests, and building constructive partnerships with Indigenous peoples. Results suggest that public confidence in energy decision making has seen limited improvement in some areas over the past six years, and no improvement in other areas.

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