Turbine Troubles: Should Ottawa have sent pipeline parts back to Russia? Canadians weigh in

Turbine Troubles: Should Ottawa have sent pipeline parts back to Russia? Canadians weigh in

This nation divided evenly between support, opposition, and uncertainty over controversial decision


July 22, 2022 – A record-breaking summer heat wave has drawn attention away from what could be a grim and cold winter as Europe faces an ongoing energy crisis amid a reduction in natural gas supply from Russia.

Canada’s role in the turmoil recently drew international notice, and condemnation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, after the Trudeau government granted a German request to return Nord Stream 1 turbines – recently repaired in Montreal – to a state-owned Russian oil company.

Returning the turbines means the flow of natural gas from that country can be increased. On one hand, Russia remains embroiled in a war it started with Ukraine. On the other, European nations dependent on Russian energy worry about the consequences of persistent diminished supply.

As Germany and Europe grapple with gripping this double-edged sword, a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds no consensus among Canadians over whether their country’s decision was correct.

Overall, an equal number of Canadians say its federal government either made the right or wrong call. A further three-in-ten (29%) say they aren’t sure.

Just over one-third (36%) say the government decision is the right one, assisting NATO allies by returning the turbines, which had been held due to ongoing sanctions. Others (35%) say this only emboldens Russia in the war against Ukraine, as it sells its fuel to fund its efforts. For his part, Vladimir Putin has cast doubt as to the quality of Canadian repairs and continues to suggest that the natural gas supply to Europe could be reduced further.

Even past Liberal Party voters are split over the decision. While two-in-five (43%) agree with it, fully three-in-ten (31%) disagree. Past Conservative voters are most critical, with half (47%) in opposition, though half are either in support (32%) or are uncertain (21%).

The turbines grabbed headlines, but Canadians’ attention to the war an ocean and continent away is waning. While more than half (56%) say they are tracking updates in the conflict, attention has dropped 10 points since May.

More Key Findings:

  • Regionally, those who believe it was the right move to return the turbines tops out at two-in-five in Ontario (39%). Those in Alberta (46%) and Saskatchewan (47%) are the most likely to believe sending the turbines back was the wrong move.
  • Sentiment regarding Canada’s role in the war has not changed since May. One-in-three (36%) still say that Canada should do more to help Ukraine, while one-in-three (35%) say the government has struck the right balance.

 

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

 

INDEX

  • Canadians divided over return of Nord Stream 1 turbines

  • The political picture

  • Just over half following the conflict in Ukraine

  • One-third say Canada could do more to help

 

Canadians divided over return of Nord Stream 1 turbines

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will soon be entering its sixth month. While the armed conflict is now focused in Ukraine’s south and east, the economic battle continues to be waged globally. Canada’s sanctions against Russia, implemented since Russian troops crossed into Ukraine in February, have targeted Russian businesses, individuals, and equipment. The sanctions have included travel bans and asset freezes on wealthy Russians, bans on imports of Russian oil and luxury goods, restrictions applied to Russian businesses, and not allowing Russian ships or airplanes within Canada’s borders.

A collection of turbines for Russia’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline – which provides European countries including Germany with natural gas from Russia – were caught in the sanctions. The turbines were being serviced in Montreal and were not returned. Russia said it was unable to provide a normal flow of natural gas because of the delayed return of the turbines. Germany asked Canada to make an exception to the sanctions in order to restore the flow of natural gas, saying it does not have alternatives to Russian energy. Nord Stream 1 is the main source of Russian natural gas to Germany, which accounts for one-third of the country’s natural gas supplies. The shortfall in natural gas in Germany has forced the country to restart dormant coal-fired and oil-fueled power plants, while delaying the decommissioning of others.

Canada acceded to Germany’s request, and the turbines were allowed to leave the repair facility in Montreal and be returned to Russia, much to the outrage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainian Canadians, the largest such diaspora in the world outside of Ukraine and Russia. The latter group protested the decision on Parliament Hill on July 17.

More broadly, Canadians are evenly divided over the decision to break the sanctions at the request of Germany, an ally. There are equal numbers who believe sending back the turbines was the wrong thing to do (35%) as who disagree (36%). Nearly as many (29%) are unsure which was the right decision.

Those in the Prairie provinces of Saskatchewan (47%) and Alberta (46%) are the most likely to believe it was wrong to return the turbines.

Two-in-five (39%) in Ontario believe the Liberal government made the correct decision to send back the turbines, the highest proportion in any province:

The political picture

Though there is separation along political lines as to whether sending back the turbines was the right thing to do, it is not as wide as typically seen over other political issues. For example, when the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act to disperse the Freedom Convoy, three-quarters of past Conservative voters believed it was unnecessary, while four-in-five past Liberal voters disagreed. Similar numbers of those who voted CPC oppose the Liberals’ proposed gun buyback program, while nearly two-thirds of Liberal voters support it.

Related:

In this case, half of those (47%) of those who voted Conservative in the fall believe the turbines should not have been excepted from the sanctions, but still one-third (32%) in that group believe the Liberal government made the right call.

More than two-in-five (43%) past Liberal voters agree, but a significant proportion – three-in-ten (31%) – do not. Past NDP voters are slightly more likely to believe it was the right decision to return the turbines than not, while those who voted for the Bloc are as likely to believe it was right (33%) as wrong (31%):

Men are more likely to hold an opinion on the matter than women. However, men of all ages who do hold an opinion are as likely to call the decision right as wrong. Younger women who pass judgement on the matter are more likely to believe it was the right call, while older women are more likely to believe it was the wrong move:

Just over half following the conflict in Ukraine

As this conflict continues and soon enters its sixth month, attention paid by Canadians has waned significantly. A majority still say they are following the events, no doubt buoyed by this latest turbine tumult, but overall attention has dropped by 10 points in the past two months:

One-third say Canada could do more to help

The Canadian government and Canadians alike have offered support for Ukraine since the war began. Canada has offered more than $320 million in humanitarian aid and has committed or delivered more than $620 million in military aid. This, in addition to accepting unlimited numbers of Ukrainian refugees.

Canada has provided the fifth most amount of total military, humanitarian and financial aid by country, behind the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and the Ukraine-neighbouring Poland, but ahead of G7 members such as France, Italy, and Japan. Canada’s contributions amount to 0.2 per cent of its GDP.

One-third (36%) of Canadians would like to see the government do more.

Two-in-five in B.C. (39%), Alberta (38%) and Atlantic Canada (39%) believe Canada should be doing more to support Ukraine. However, in other parts of the country – Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec – the proportion of people who believe Canada has done enough to support the besieged country outnumber those who believe Canada could be doing more. Also in Manitoba, one-in-five (20%) believe Canada has done too much, the most in the country alongside Alberta:

For those who believe Canada is not providing enough support to Ukraine, half (51%) believe sending the Nord Stream 1 turbines back to Russia was the wrong move. For those who believe Canada is providing too much, or the right amount, in support, half instead believe it was correct to make an exception to the sanctions to allow the return of the turbines:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from July 18 – 20, 2022 among a representative randomized sample of 1,606 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire in English and French, click here.

Image – www.nord-stream.com

MEDIA CONTACT:

Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org

 

Summary tables follow.


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