Canada’s rote-woke PM recently attributed incidents of rising incivility in Canadian politics to “the pandemic, increasing anxiety because of climate change, transformations of our economy, um, rise in mental health and addiction problems”. Not soaring inflation, gas prices, rising interest rates or the energy crisis now ravaging Europe, which seems to be coming to Canada. No, you see according to a group called Clean Prosperity, “Canadians know climate action will drive economic prosperity”. Despite the fact that it hasn’t so far, indeed it has done the opposite. But the believers go on to insist that “’Climate action equals smaller energy bills’ is the message every Canadian needs to hear.” Alternatively, dare we suggest, the annoying attempt to bamboozle people on that score as they open their latest power bill, or face dangerous power failures, is one of the real explanations of public exasperation and the incivility noted above.
To ride one of our own hobby horses to potential exhaustion, those who think climate alarmism is a plot need to reflect that people who know they’re peddling falsehoods do not lead with the chin like this. The basic thrust of this story is that Canadians are mistaken about the costs of climate action, including the real price of alternative energy, and something needs to be done quickly or they will become very disgruntled.
According to the “every Canadian needs to hear” piece in Canada’s National Observer, what really happened is not that Canadians successfully harnessed unicorn power. It’s that “Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data conducted a series of Ontario-based surveys and focus groups this summer, given the political importance of Canada’s biggest swing province along with our desire to understand how recent regional EV investments were resonating with residents. What we found was that while almost everyone we surveyed saw climate action as broadly beneficial, many felt climate efforts were likely to cost them more over the short term – even if such efforts might save them money in the long run.” So not quite what the first headline claimed.
The piece also acknowledged that “It would be hard to overstate just how critical affordability concerns are right now to people. Last year, 90 per cent of Canadians ranked a pocketbook issue as a top concern likely to impact their vote in the 2021 election, while a deeper analysis revealed economic anxiety cuts across the political spectrum.” Other polls confirm this claim. But never mind because “participants strongly supported climate action regardless of this cost”.
Oh really? As we’ve warned before, people can tell pollsters just anything, and often give what they consider virtuous responses when there’s no cost, but act differently in the store and the voting booth. Thus the finding that “Electric vehicles were widely understood as cheaper to fuel than gas cars, and participants viewed EV rebates (federal and provincial) along with government investments in charging infrastructure as effective ways to improve affordability” sounds like push polling. What normal person would have volunteered the second part without serious prompting?
Also “Nearly everyone we spoke to knew EV manufacturing was a major economic opportunity for Ontario.” Pfui. It’s just not the sort of opinion people go around holding, though if asked “Do you know EV manufacturing is a major economic opportunity for Ontario” they’re liable to say yes so as not to seem dense.
What’s especially odd about this story, by a pollster and an advocacy group which is already an uneasy combination, is that it’s full of assertions like “research shows climate action actually lowers energy bills” which kicks right back to a piece by… Clean Energy Canada about an International Energy Agency study of energy bills in the year 2050. And “3 per cent of Ontarians believe EVs are cheaper than gas cars when one considers the full cost of ownership, like fuel and maintenance. They’re not wrong.” Which kicks right back to a piece by… Clean Energy Canada about a Clean Energy Canada study saying “With just one exception, the electric version of every car analyzed was cheaper” than the gas model. They do protest too much, wethinks.
Then came the clincher: “while Canadians now generally understand the link between economic growth and climate action, climate-ambitious governments would be wise to better communicate the cost-of-living benefits of their climate efforts while, at the same time, ensuring greater access to these long-term cost-saving solutions today.”
So what you’re saying is you’ve conned Canadians into thinking these expensive alternatives are cheaper. And if you don’t want it to blow up in your faces, you’d better make them cheaper. Pity we don’t know how.
Canadians may soon discover that they've been misled on this point. And if they do, you’re in a heap of trouble.