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Carbon tax opposed by 67% of Albertans, poll suggests

More than two-thirds of Albertans are opposed to the provincial government’s incoming carbon tax, according to a new poll.

Survey also finds a slim majority favours plan to phase out coal-fired electricity

A poll suggests that more than two-thirds of Albertans oppose the NDP's plan for a carbon tax, while a slim majority is in favour of the plan to phase out coal-fired electrical power. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

More than two-thirds of Albertans are opposed to the provincial government's incoming carbon tax, according to a new poll.

According to the survey released Friday by the Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College, 67.2 per cent of voting-age Albertans oppose the tax, which is set to take effect in 2017.

"Majorities in all regions of Alberta are opposed to the carbon tax plan," research chair Faron Ellis said in a release for the poll.

Opposition and support for the carbon tax. Use arrows to select regions:

"Southern Albertans are most opposed (73.8%), followed closely by northern residents (70.9%) and Calgarians (66.5%). A less substantial but nevertheless clear majority of Edmonton-area residents are also opposed (57.7%).

The poll suggests the level of opposition to the carbon tax varies by political affiliation and demographics.

While 78.7 per cent of NDP voters support the plan, it's opposed by 88 per cent of Wildrose Party voters, 81.5 per cent of Progressive Conservative voters, and 65.6 per cent of undecided voters.

The tax is opposed by 73.7 per cent of Albertans who have the least amount of formal education, 74.6 per cent of those who have trade, technical school or college diplomas, and 67.5 per cent of those with some post-secondary schooling.

Opposition softens to 56.1 per cent among Albertans with university degrees.

The NDP government revealed details of the carbon tax in its spring budget.

Provincial Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said Albertans have lots of questions about the carbon tax, but opinions could change as people learn more about it.

"Albertans are still learning about what the carbon levy means to  them, four cents a litre at the pump for example," she said.

"And they will, two-thirds of people, will receive a rebate. And that is a message that we'll continue to talk to Albertans about. And so it's fair that Albertans have questions right now."

The tax will be levied on gasoline and diesel at the pump, as well as home heating fuel. In 2017, Albertans will pay an additional 4.49 cents a litre, increasing to 6.73 cents a litre on Jan. 1, 2018,

But the province estimates its levy framework — starting at $20 per tonne and rising to $30 per tonne in 2018 — will actually mean an extra $540 for the average family of four, once rebates are factored in.

Full and partial rebates will be offered to singles earning up to $51,250 net income annually and couples earning up to $100,000. The net income cut-off for couples with two children is $101,000. The government estimates about 66 per cent of Albertans will qualify for some kind of rebate. 

Rebates will rise in 2018 when the levy increases to $30 a tonne from $20.

Phase-out of coal power supported by most Albertans

The Lethbridge College opinion survey also asked voters what they think about the provincial government's plan to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030.

Overall, a slim majority — 52.5 per cent — supports the plan, but a distinct rural-urban split emerges on the issue, the poll says.

"While slight majorities of Calgary (58.8%) and Edmonton residents (53.9%) are supportive, slight majorities of southern Albertans outside of Calgary (50.7%) and northern Albertans outside of the Edmonton-area (52.2%) opposed."

 Again, education levels were big predictors of opinion on the issue, the poll found.

"A majority of those with the least amount of formal education are opposed (54.9%), while a majority of university graduates is supportive (63.3%)."

The poll surveyed 1,513 adult Alberta residents by telephone from Oct. 1 to 8. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, when looking at the province as a whole. When analyzing sub-samples of the data, the margin of error increases to as much as plus or minus 5.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.​

With files from Kate Adach

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