New Brunswick

When it comes to fracking, almost half of Vote Compass users support a ban

Forty-nine per cent of Vote Compass participants say they somewhat or strongly agree with banning hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.

Only 32% of CBC Vote Compass respondents disagree with the ban

Almost half of Vote Compass participants say they would support a ban on fracking. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

A new CBC Vote Compass survey suggests 49 per cent of participants "agree" or "strongly agree" with banning hydraulic fracturing in New Brunswick.

That's compared to 32 per cent who "somewhat" or "strongly disagree" with a ban, while 15 per cent of respondents were neutral.

There has been a moratorium on the practice over the last four years and whether to allow it again has been an issue in the 2018 election.

Vote Compass, the online survey, allows users to answer a series of questions as part of the tool to help determine what political parties their views align with.

The online tool also includes questions about environmental issues and fracking.

Earlier data from Vote Compass shows participants ranked the environment as the third-most important issue behind economy and health.

Fracking refers to injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, creating cracks in shale rock formations to extract natural gas from areas that would otherwise go untapped.

"Like some of the other data we've received from these surveys, they fit with what we'd expect," said J.P. Lewis, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John.

The results of a Vote Compass question about whether participants would support a ban on fracking in the province. (Vox Pop Labs)

The Vote Compass data shows 34 per cent of participants say they are strongly in favour of a ban.

The support breaks down largely along party lines, with 64 per cent of those who say they intend to vote for the PCs say they strongly disagree with a ban compared to 20 per cent agreeing with a ban.

For participants who support the Liberals, 58 per cent say they agree with a ban compared to 20 per cent against.

Support for banning fracking broken down by Vote Compass participant voting intention. (Vox Pop Labs)

The practice led to waves of protests in the province over several years leading up to the 2014 election.

The Progressive Conservatives launched the party's re-election campaign in Penobsquis, a village 13 kilometres northeast of Sussex, at a Corridor Resources natural gas well. The company fracked wells in the area and the party fought the campaign on the issue.

The Liberals promised a moratorium on the practice, and implemented one after winning the election.

The Liberals plan to keep that moratorium in place if re-elected, while the PCs say they will let communities decide whether fracking can take place nearby.

Lewis said the results of the last election may have played a role in how much attention the parties now give the issue.

"If you're looking at a resource extraction drum to beat, there's much more consensus around pipelines," Lewis said.

Past polls

Previous polling on the issue suggested a split in support for the practice that has remained relatively stable over the years.

poll by Corporate Research Associates in November 2014 found 41 per cent of New Brunswickers surveyed completely or mostly supported shale gas development in the province, while 45 per cent mostly or completely opposed it.

CBC/Radio-Canada poll conducted by Corporate Research Associates in August 2014 found 49 per cent of people supported it compared to 44 per cent who opposed the industry.

And another poll by Corporate Research Associates in November 2011 found 45 per cent supported shale gas development, while 45 per cent were opposed.


Support for banning fracking broken down by the participant's level of education. (Vox Pop Labs)

Vote Compass was developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs as a civic engagement tool.

The findings are based on 8,883 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from Aug. 24 this year to Sept. 11.

Unlike opinion polls, respondents aren't pre-selected and do not represent a random sample of the population. However, the results have been weighed to account for gender, age, education,language and region to ensure the sample's composition is reflective of the province's population.