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May 19, 2015

By Bruce Anderson & David Coletto

We’ve completed an in depth survey among 1,000 residents of Alberta. This release deals exclusively with matters related to energy, and more of the data will be available in the coming weeks. Our first two releases, from the last week, can be found by clicking here and here.

Energy Issues and the Popularity of the NDP Government

The vast majority of Albertans say that in evaluating the performance of the new government, they will pay attention to it’s impact on the oil and gas sector (88% say very or somewhat important) oil sands development (86%) and pipelines to move Alberta’s oil and gas (86%). A smaller majority (72%) says how the province deals with “climate change” will be important.

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Expectations about the impact of the government on each of these issues is mixed, suggesting that the Notley administration will experience public scrutiny, notwithstanding the fact that most voters have a neutral to positive feeling about the NDP win.

Here’s what the results show:

– More people think the new government will have a negative impact rather than a positive impact on the oil and gas sector ((48% negative-40% positive), oil sands development (52% negative – 34% positive) and pipelines (52% negative – 33% positive)

– A modest majority (62%) expects the new government will have a positive impact in terms of dealing with climate change.

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Carrying Through on Promises

When it comes to fulfilling the promises made by the NDP before the election, the results show that most people (58%) want the government to carry through with creating a “resource owners rights Commission to review the royalty system and recommend ways to increase processing in province and a good return for Albertans.” 17% would prefer the new government abandon that promise, and 24% have no strong feelings either way.

A larger majority (67%) would like to see the government carry through with the “development of renewable energy projects in the province”, while only 12% would like to see that promise abandoned and 22% have no strong views.

However, when it comes to “opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline” only 21% would like to see the NDP take this position in government, while 53% say they should shift their ground, and 26% are more indifferent. Even among NDP voters, only 31% say the government should oppose Northern Gateway.

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Energy Policy Choices for Alberta

We asked respondents whether they would like to see the Notley government do a number of things in regard to energy, and the results show a desire to see both support for the use of Alberta’s oil and gas as well as efforts to improve energy efficiency and use renewable sources of energy.

• 90% would like her to implement an ‘energy efficiency strategy’
• 89% would like her to implement a ‘renewable energy strategy’
• 85% would like Ms. Notley to support pipelines to the east
• 79% would like Ms. Notley to support a pipeline to the west
• 76% would like Ms. Notley to support the Keystone XL pipeline
• 71% would like Ms. Notley to “work with other provinces to establish a way to put a price on carbon to help combat climate change”.

Among NDP voters, 79% want Ms. Notley to support pipelines east, 69% want her to support a western pipeline, 65% want her to support Keystone XL. Among Wildrose supporters, 71% want her to implement a renewable energy strategy, 78% an energy efficiency strategy.

When it comes to establishing a price on carbon, 83% of NDP voters, 64% of PC voters, and even 44% of WRP voters would like to see the Premier work with other provinces in this direction.

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The Upshot?

This probing on energy issues and expectations of the new government reveals still more evidence that the shift that elected the NDP was not about people looking for radical change.

Instead, mainstream voters, across the province, are looking for continued support for oil and gas development, including expanded market access, while at the same time hoping that Alberta can make more progress in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and playing a collaborative role with other provinces on the question of carbon pricing.

How Ms. Notley handles these high profile issues will likely have a lot to do with her ability to sustain public goodwill going forward, and needless to say, the economic pressures in the energy sector will figure significantly in the choices available to her.

Methodology

Our survey was conducted online with 1,000 Alberta residents aged 18 and over from May 6 to 11, 2015. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Albertans, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading provider of online research samples.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Alberta’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region of the province. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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Abacus Data Inc.

We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, PhD.

Good Decisions Require Good Data.