Canadians and Americans Say, Put the Environment and People First - Binational poll shows strong opposition to use of NAFTA's Chapter 11



    OTTAWA, Feb. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - U.S. President Barack Obama should press
ahead with plans to renegotiate NAFTA when he meets with Canadian Prime
Minister Stephen Harper later this month to discuss binational energy and
environmental policies, concludes the Council of Canadians, which has
commissioned a new binational poll of Canadians and Americans on NAFTA and
Canada-U.S. energy policy.
    The poll, conducted by Environics, found that over 70 per cent of
Americans and Canadians believe energy corporations should not be allowed to
sue governments (which current, controversial provisions of Chapter 11 of
NAFTA allow) for changes in government policy that protect the environment or
otherwise promote the public interest.
    The poll also found that an overwhelming 9 out of 10 Canadians believe
the Harper government should pursue a comprehensive strategy to create more
green jobs in renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. This means
Obama is more in tune with Canadians' green priorities than Harper. Obama has
shown strong support for renewable energy, a strategy sorely lacking from the
recent Canadian federal budget.
    "There is remarkable agreement between Canadians and Americans on the
need to promote the public interest and constrain the power of energy
corporations. And there is overwhelming consensus among Canadians on the
desire to promote renewable energy," says Maude Barlow, Chair of the Council
of Canadians. "Unfortunately, the Canadian government and Big Oil refuse to
change NAFTA, which leaves energy and environmental security a victim of the
whims of the market."
    "Americans and Canadians want a green energy future and agree that the
time to start is now," says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, senior attorney at the
U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council. "There are clean technologies
ready for roll-out at this moment, so we are seeing no patience for
environmentally destructive fuels like tar sands oil. We have to hold energy
companies to a higher level of accountability."
    "NAFTA is a dangerous barrier to effective government policies addressing
climate change and diminishing energy resources. Over half of the complaints
under NAFTA's chapter 11 have directly challenged environmental policies,"
says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.
"This is a problem that is only going to get worse and more costly as both
governments try to come to terms with the growing environmental and economic
crises. This has a tremendous impact on any discussions in Canada or between
Canada and the U.S. towards adopting an effective climate change policy."


    
                           BINATIONAL POLL RESULTS

     Environics Research Group was commissioned by the Council of Canadians
      to conduct a poll on attitudes towards energy policy and the North
     American Free Trade Agreement. Between January 22 and February 1, 2009,
         1,000 Canadians and 1,000 American respondents were interviewed,
      resulting in a margin of error of +/-3.09 per cent 19 times out of 20
                           for each country polled.

    1. The following question was asked of Americans and Canadians:

    Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, allows
corporations to sue member governments for compensation anytime they feel that
government policies, such as environmental policies, might reduce their
profits.

    DO YOU STRONGLY SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT OPPOSE OR STRONGLY
OPPOSE ENERGY COMPANIES BEING ABLE TO SUE NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS FOR LOST
PROFITS AS A RESULT OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES?

    RESULTS:
    United States: SUPPORT 26% OPPOSE 71% DON'T KNOW/REFUSED 3%
    Canada: SUPPORT 23% OPPOSE 72% DON'T KNOW/REFUSED 5%

    2. The following question was asked of Canadians only:

    Addressing climate change will likely involve more energy conservation and
efficiency, as well as transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind,
solar and tidal power.

    DO YOU STRONGLY SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT OPPOSE OR STRONGLY
OPPOSE THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT DEVELOPING A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO CREATE
MORE "GREEN JOBS" THROUGH IMPROVED ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND THE EXPANSION OF
RENEWABLE ENERGY 

SOURCES? RESULTS: SUPPORT 93% OPPOSE 5% DON'T KNOW/REFUSED 2%

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview: Dylan Penner,
Council of Canadians, (613) 795-8685

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