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Word on the Street: How the energy industry and climate change are affecting Calgary voters

The Global News Morning Calgary team takes to the streets to find out what Calgarians think about how the issues of energy and climate change are affecting the 2019 federal election.

Each day this week, Global News will explore some of the issues that matter to Calgary voters as we approach the 2019 federal election in a new segment called Word on the Street.

The Global News Morning Calgary team took to the streets last week to find out what Calgarians think about the energy industry and climate change in the context of the 2019 federal election — and it didn’t take long for both topics to generate discussion.
Climate change has dominated headlines throughout the election campaign. It was a topic in the televised federal leaders’ debate, and Extinction Rebellion protesters have been raising awareness about what they view as a “climate emergency” by staging demonstrations throughout Canada.
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In addition, a recent Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that 29 per cent of those surveyed listed climate change as one of the top three issues that would determine how they vote on election day — the highest the issue has ever ranked, according to Ipsos.
When it comes to the energy industry, a lot of the talk has focused on pipelines this federal election campaign — specifically, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
The federal Liberals bought the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and the unfinished expansion work for $4.5 billion last year, promising to get the project past the political opposition it faced.
On the campaign trail, all of the other parties have criticized the move.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has said the government should not have to step in on projects that should be built by the private sector.
The NDP and the Green Party of Canada, citing environmental reasons, have criticized both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for buying the pipeline and Scheer for his pro-pipeline platform.
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Voters we spoke with said the issues of climate change and the energy industry are certainly divisive.
Hillary Johnstone, who was visiting Alberta from Toronto, said she had only been in Calgary for 12 hours and already regretted “having an anti-pipeline thought,” pointing to the support she’s seen for the oil and gas industry in Alberta as what changed her mind.
Mel Reyes said there’s a reason downtown Calgary is full of empty office towers once used by oil and gas businesses.
“There are a lot of political reasons why we aren’t doing as good as we should be doing,” Reyes said. “The policies put in place, like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48.”
Susan Waddell, meanwhile, supports the energy industry and feels the country needs to get on the same page when it comes to our resources.
“We have all of these resources and we need to get them to market,” Waddell said. “It doesn’t do any good to buy a pipeline and let it sit there. We have to get off our butts and co-operate.”
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Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt argues that climate change is the biggest predictor of party support, saying all you have to do to know how someone will vote in the Oct. 21 election is ask how they feel about climate change

“There is great polarization amongst the parties on the issue of climate change,” Bratt said.

“If you are an Albertan who supports the Conservative Party, who is male and living in rural Alberta, you are most likely to deny climate change. If you are female, living in Montreal, that supports the Green Party, the opposite applies.”

READ MORE: Canada election: Find your riding, your local candidates and their voting history

When it comes to energy, Bratt says the two highest-polling parties, the Liberals and Conservatives, both agree on wanting to see the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built — which should work in the project’s favour.

“I recognize the concerns people have around Trans Mountain but I think a minority Liberal government could be propped up by the Conservatives, and a minority Conservative government could be propped up by the Liberals. In other words, the parties that represent about 85 per cent of the seats are going to be able to work together.”

READ MORE: NDP sees support jump at expense of Liberals, Tories one week before election: poll

According to Bratt, support of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is one of the few areas related to Canada’s energy industry on which the Liberals and Conservatives seem to see eye to eye.

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“Things like Bill C-69 and Bill-C48, unless you have a Scheer majority government, I think are going to stay,” he said. “Likewise, the federal carbon tax, unless it’s a Scheer majority, I think we are also going to see it in Alberta.”