02/08/2019 11:32 EST | Updated 02/08/2019 11:32 EST

Doug Ford’s ‘Carbon Tax Recession’ Warning Isn’t Worrying Most Canadians, Poll Finds

Nearly two-thirds of people surveyed disagree with the Ontario premier’s claim.

Cole Burston/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at an event at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Jan. 21, 2019.

TORONTO — Most Canadians don't believe Ontario Premier Doug Ford's warning that a carbon tax could throw the economy into recession.

While 36 per cent of Canadians told Abacus Data Ford is correct, 64 per cent said he was over-stating the negative impacts of a carbon tax. When people were told that many economists rejected Ford's take, even more — 74 per cent — said he was wrong.

Ford first made the claim in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in downtown Toronto on Jan. 21.

"I'm here today to ring the warning bell that the risk of a carbon tax recession is very, very real,'' he said. "A carbon tax will be a total economic disaster, not only for our province but for our entire country."

Economists and environmentalists disputed his claim, but Ford doubled down the next day.

We specifically describe the overall economic impact as 'small.'Economist Robyn Gibbard, whose study was cited by PCs

Asked for evidence, the premier's staffand ministers pointed to a Conference Board of Canada study that suggested a federal carbon tax like the one being introduced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in some provinces would shrink Canada's $2.1-trillion economy by about $3 billion.

One of the study's authors fought back on Twitter.

"At no point in our research paper do we say that the carbon tax could cause a recession," economist Robyn Gibbard wrote. "We specifically describe the overall economic impact as 'small.'"

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Overall, the Abacus Data poll found that most Canadians are open to a carbon tax.

Thirty-five per cent said they support the idea, 37 per cent said they are open to considering it, and 28 per cent oppose it. Support climbed by 9 per cent when participants were told that most of the money raised would be returned to taxpayers.

"Canadians don't love new taxes but they are worried about climate change and want a rational discussion of what we can and should do about it," Abacus Data chairman Bruce Anderson said in a release about the survey's findings.

"Time after time, people reject rhetoric which sounds far-fetched or over-reaching, which is how people reacted to Mr. Ford's assertion."

The pollster surveyed 2,500 Canadians online between Jan. 30 and Feb. 5, 2019. Data were weighted so that the sample was representative of Canada's population by age, gender, educational attainment and region. The margin of error for a comparable sample is +/- 2.0%, 19 times out of 20.

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