A strong majority of Canadians say the wealthy, new technology companies such as Google and Facebook, and large corporations have too much influence in Canadian politics, according to an Environics Institute survey.
The survey found that roughly two-thirds of Canadians held these views, while just one in 10 said those groups have too little influence.
The institute also noted a “striking” difference on the question of the influence of environmental groups.
At 51 per cent, Albertans are more than twice as likely as other Canadians – 22 per cent – to say that environmental groups have too much influence in Canadian politics.
“It does show the completely different context in Alberta right now," said Andrew Parkin, the institute’s executive director.
The survey of 2,008 Canadians asked respondents for their views on 10 groups – including unions, Indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities – and whether they have too much, too little or the right amount of influence on Canadian politics.
Nationally, 45 per cent of those surveyed said environmental groups have too little influence, while 26 per cent said they had the right amount and 25 per cent said they had too much.
Pollsters found that a majority of Conservative Party supporters say environmental groups have too much influence, while majorities of those supporting any of the other parties say that environmental groups have too little influence.
The survey results on political influence are being released Tuesday. The institute released other results last week from the same survey. Those results found sharp regional divides between Quebec and Alberta, with Quebeckers feeling positive about the economy and listing climate change as their top concern, while Albertans are concerned about job insecurity and viewed the economy as more important than climate change.
The sharp divide in opinion between Albertans and the rest of Canada over the influence of environment groups highlights the divisions Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces after the Oct. 21 election.
Canadian voters reduced the Liberals to a minority government and no Liberals were elected in Alberta or Saskatchewan. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is using the election results to highlight his government’s demands for the federal Liberals to revise or abandon two recently adopted federal laws related to environmental protection that he said are causing major harm to Alberta’s energy sector.
While responding to the concerns of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Mr. Trudeau must also navigate a minority Parliament in which he will frequently need the support of either the Bloc Québécois or NDP. Both Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh campaigned for stronger action on climate change and both oppose measures such as the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that are supported by Alberta’s oil and gas sector.
In addition to environment and energy issues, the re-elected Liberal government also faces challenging policy decisions regarding foreign digital-based companies including Google and Facebook. The Liberal platform pledged to raise more than $600-million a year by “making multinational tech giants pay their fair share.”
Mr. Parkin, the institute’s executive director, said the fact that at least two-thirds of Canadians across all regions say new tech companies have too much influence suggests the government could have public support for action in this area.
“It is quite an evenly spread out attitude," he said.
The Environics Institute survey took place between Oct. 7 and Oct. 20. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.