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Color Him Surprised on the Popularity of Nuclear Energy

Just in case you thought Canadians were different from Americans:

Ontarians favor nuclear power by a margin of more than two to one, a new public opinion survey suggests.

The Forum Research poll found that 54 per cent are comfortable with atomic energy compared to 23 per cent who oppose it, while 23 per cent had no opinion.

That’s 77 percent in favor or non-committal. I should add that this is the province that has nuclear energy facilities –  I’ve read that the other provinces are less in favor of nuclear energy. I haven’t really seen it borne out by polls, though support does run under Ontario. This poll, from Abacus Data in 2011, shows all Canadians supporting nuclear energy (or non-committal) at 56 percent, which is not terrible.

Now, this survey was done soon after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, so some of its findings may have faded with time. It asks explicitly whether views on nuclear energy have worsened as a result of the accident. Forty-nine percent said yes, 43 percent said no. That suggests to me that Canadians, like Americans, made the distinction between their industry – and the people’s relative faith in it - and that of another country. I suspect that the number would go up in 2012 and 2013.

Back in Ontario:

“I hate to use this analogy, but it’s not as radioactive an issue as it used to be,” [pollster Forum Research] president Lorne Bozinoff said Tuesday.

“This is a new generation of people and they weren’t around at the height of the anti-nuclear stuff,” said Bozinoff, adding he was “surprised” at the level of acceptance of nuclear energy in Ontario.

Funny guy. it’s just a guess on his part and his is as good as mine, but I also imagine that the manifest benefits of nuclear energy in Ontario – good jobs and economic development – help its standing. For me, the surprising aspect of looking into this is to find that Canada, despite the concentration of its nuclear energy industry in Ontario, probably could expand westward based just on public opinion.

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Another story in The Toronto Star is headlined “Halloween spirit has turned tasteless.” But if it isn’t tasteless, it isn’t Halloween. Maybe Americans and Canadians are different from one another.

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