Monday, May 26, 2008

Pembina Institute polling on BC carbon tax misleading and far from fair

The Pembina Institute does some good work - but today's news release claiming a polling question they asked about the BC Liberals' carbon tax does not qualify in that category.

In fact, I would strongly argue that the national polling question they asked is highly misleading to respondents and designed to get the answer they wanted - that the carbon tax is a good idea.

But the Pembina poll does not give respondents all the information or a clear question. You be the judge - first, here's what their news release said:

"Over 70 per cent of Canadians consider British Columbia’s recent introduction of a carbon tax “a positive step,” according to a national poll released today by the Pembina Institute.

"These results show that Canadians want much stronger action on climate change,” said Matt Horne, Acting Director of British Columbia Energy Solutions at the Pembina Institute. “British Columbia’s carbon tax demonstrates the type of leadership that Canadians want to see from other provinces and the federal government.”

I'll leave aside for the moment the ludicrous idea that the Gordon Campbell government that slashed the hell out of environmental protection and boasts of massive increases in oil and gas production and exploration is providing environmental "leadership" for anyone.

Here now is the actual Pembina poll question conducted by McAllister Opinion Research:

"The government of British Columbia recently introduced a carbon tax on fossil fuel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All things considered, do you think this was a positive or negative step? Is that very or somewhat?"

The results:

- 27% very positive
- 45% somewhat positive, for a total positive of 72%

- 12% somewhat negative
- 11% very negative, for a total negative of 23%

-5% Don't know/refused

Here's the question they should have asked:

"The government of British Columbia recently introduced a new tax on gasoline, heating fuel and other fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through discouraging use of such fuels. The tax starts at 2.4 cents a litre on gas and fuel in July and will rise to 7.2 cents a litre by 2012. Do you agree or disagree with this new tax? Is that very or somewhat?"

The reason for this question wording are simple - the Pembina question does not even mention gasoline or heating fuel - just "fossil fuels" - which some people would not even understand.

It also fails to give any indication of the size of the gas tax even though it is well known, or what it applies to.

Of course, it's quite possible that the Pembina Institute actually DID ask that very same question and got dramatically different results - results it did not release for that reason. I may pose that question to them in the near future.

The only other polling I am aware of specificallly about the BC Liberals' gas tax in BC itself found almost exactly the opposite result - 61% of British Columbians said the gas tax was a "bad" idea, while just 25% approved of the tax. And that's before the tax has even come into effect and before the recent dramatic increases in gas prices!

It also contradicts a recent Strategic Counsel poll for CTV, which found that 57% of Canadians wanted the federal government to reduce its gasoline taxes, and with 35% strongly agreeing. 36% disagreed with cutting gas taxes.

One reason is obvious - despite significant increases in the price of gasoline in Canada over the last 4 years, consumption has not gone down. That's because many Canadians, especially in rural areas, have no choice about driving to work or using their vehicles for other purposes.

So, notwithstanding the Pembina Institute's claims - echoed by the BC Liberal government - that increasing gas taxes is supported - at the very least the jury is out and those price increases have not yet been implemented.

But I would argue the opposite - that in fact the Pembina poll is at odds with two other polls and may well be wrong. Regardless of that, until we see the gas tax in place we won't really know what people actually think.

But if consumers don't like the gas tax - and I don't think they do - you won't see a Pembina Institute news release about it.


Anonymous said...

Green Tax this is not. It is an attack on rural BC and any area without good public transit. As to green boy the hellaballoo over the floating bridge (named after the premier who was probably the second most disliked one in BC history) decries our greenness.Let the highways in the rest of BC fall apart but give all to Liberal ridings.

BC Mary said...

Hi Bill,

Thanks for exposing a little more of the biases which go into polling around election time.

The worst thing, though, is when we begin to feel that we can't trust our own friends.

I don't mean to be mysterious. But there's one rotten apple who needs to think about these things before damage is done.

Fight FOR something, I say, and not AGAINST your friends and neighbours.

Think solidarity, co-operation, and mutual support toward achieving a better election result next year.


Anonymous said...

I spent 2 hours in Room 54, SCBC-Vanc, watching proceedings in Oppal's obscene prosecutor shield application. Crown spent 4 hours claiming that - get this - prosecutorial immunity from testifying as to their use of discretion not to charge (Paul' cops) or hold (Lee prosecutors), is protected under Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Globe and Mail and Province had reporters there.

In Kirk Makin's book, "Redrum the Innocent" (Guy Paul Morin atrocity), he documents pre-hearing taunts that the ever malicious prosecutor, Susan McLean directed at Morin. Later, McLean was quoted urging Crowns to treat the case as "war." And, according to Makin, presiding justice, James Donnelly, both awarded Crown victories in 100% of Voir Dire hearings, and directed the jury to consider 47 instances of "consciousness of guilt," nominally displayed by an innocent man. Prior to Morin's exhoneration by DNA, both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada, upheld the perverse conviction. At the later Commission study - I attended Toronto sessions - McLean denied verity of the exhonerations. Her punishment: 2 years later she was made a judge; Donnelly heads the Ontario Racing Commission.

Why did Ontario prosecutors participate in the Morin Hearings? Non-participation was a non-starter in the climate of the day. What's the difference in BC? Only here - in all of Western Civilization - is a media organization an integral element of the justice system. At least a third of Province cover stories are acting out of police/prosecutor scripts. Canwest uses its near monopoly to sanitize the fact that government parties are winning nearly 100% of cases in all levels of the courts. The Charter is only upheld in 1 of 20 cases. Members of the Defence and non-corporate Tort Bar are excluded from the Bench. An inordinate number of case issues are decided by either Chief Justice Brenner or his Associate, Pat Dohm, at pre trial Motion hearings. Without statutory enablement, trial management at the Supreme Court is executed on the basis of the proposed Brenner-Seckel (Deputy AG) rules, which enable suit-quashes by killer Motions.

Hopefully the Globe and Mail will embarass local media into admitting the perversity of wrapping prosecutorial misconduct in the Charter.

The Oppal judicial review is set to run through Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

Bill I would like to see some pollster ask me how I feel at the gas station about adding 2.4 to 7.5% more tax.

Also to let me know that big industial polluters don`t have to pay!
Put on an extra sweater ,don`t have that barbecue or you will pay!

How many rural bcers are going to be attacked by wildlife or run over on our highways while fumbling their way in the dark on our unlit potholed filled roads.

How much does it cost to hospitalize a sick senior because he froze himself to save "CARBON"

How many seniors are going to fall and break their hips because their fumbling around in the dark trying to lower their carbon footprint.

One more thing --did the polling outfit tell anyone about the 18 million cars going on the road in CHINA in the next year! Or what about the giant coal shipments we send to china everyday (without a carbon tax)

The only plus I see is maybe? Just maybe dion might fall into the black -hole of tax (never to be seen again) LOL LOL LOL

Anonymous said...

Bill, I want to know why is it that since we produce so much gas, and as a country, are one of the main suppliers to the US, we don't get a cheaper price at the pumps? And, why don't those who receive our exports pay more than we do?

And how come the gas stations in Point Roberts can sell gas at 20 cents a litre less than in Tsawwassen?

Thanks for clarifying this for me.
Just sign me Puzzled.

Anonymous said...

At this past weekend's federal Liberal party policy convention in Richmond BC, the delegates voted a that a revenue neutral carbon tax would be the prioritized policy resolution. An interesting thing about that convention is that party officials removed the ballot boxes from the convention floor after all the ballots had been cast and counted them in private. Somehow I can't help but think of the Stalin quote that stated. "He who votes decides nothing. He who counts the votes decides everything!"

Anonymous said...

Tax grabs by our so called cowardly leaders who haven't the nads to take on these corporate evil doers.
NWO, NAU, TILMA etc all for the Greedy corrupt corporations.
Where do all ex- politicians end up?
On many corporate boards = big $$$
Follow the money trail!
BC Mary you are bang on as OUR strength is in OUR numbers as one voice against tyranny!

Anonymous said...

Want to get scared?
Copy and paste:

Anonymous said...

How sad to see the NDP, and Tieleman with it, abandon leadership on the gravest environment crisis of our time and instead pander with no-new-taxes rhetoric reminiscent of the Reagan era and Big Oil. I've been a lifelong NDP voter but am afraid I'll have no choice but to back Dion in the next election. Layton has been a huge disappointment; he seems more interested in playing footsie with the Big Oil Tories in order to inflict electoral harm on the Liberals than in leading on this critical issue. And the provincial NDP is not much better. Humanity is facing its gravest crisis ever in the form of climate change and all Bill Tieleman and the NDP can do is whine about what are in fact unduly timid efforts to tackle it. If only the NDP could be faithful to its progressive traditions and propose some radical, workable solutions instead of sniping at Gordon Campbell the one time he does something halfway right! Message to the NDP: this is not the seventies; we are in the midst of a global climate crisis that threatens our planet and human existence as we know it. Taxing carbon use is a necessary tool to reduce emissions. Enough posturing! Wake up to the reality facing us and show some leadership for a change.

Anonymous said...

The one thing I can say is thank ye gods Bill Tieleman isn’t writing public opinion research questions.

No mention of the revenue recycling in your proposed question Bill? Just focus on the tax, and not the rebate? Is that because such a question would … support your views?

The questions in the two other polls you mentioned are badly written and/or a bit off-topic.

I hope the NDs are taking other advice; pandering to the aggressive anti-tax position of movement conservatives won’t win them any votes. Anti-tax voters will never, ever vote for the NDs; they’re simply out of reach.

And opposing carbon tax-shifting will alienate green voters – something the NDs should have become cautious about a few years ago after Clarke labelled environmentalists the “enemies of BC.” Did that win a lot of votes? Maybe... not so much.

It’s a green province, and this is the 21st Century. The NDs need to capture the green vote, or they will remain in opposition indefinitely.

piperslagoon said...

Tieleman - you often pretty insightful guy, but on the carbon tax issue, you are just plain wrong.

If one has to choose between the Reagan-like anti-tax pandering of a party insider, and the no nonsense analysis of a think tank like Pembina (and others like Mark Jaccard), I'll take the independent thinkers.

Also, I really dont get your attack on the Pembina poll. Your speculation about what the pollster might have found -- but didnt report is totally over the top! Sure, they may also be working for the CIA, the KGB and Exxon Oil for all we know. That kind of outburst is best treated with Lithium, man.

As another poster mentions, your suggested wording doesn't mention revenue recycling, and neither does it mention the benefits of public policies that put a price on carbon (and I see no mention in either the Pembina or your wording of stopping global warming, the ostensible purpose of the "tax".) One could argue that the Pembina poll was biased AGAINST the tax because it neglected to mention these and would have shown greater support if it did.