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Enquirica Research – Alberta Public Opinion Survey

Albertans support private sector participation in infrastructure; oppose federal spending on Detroit-Windsor bridge.

Calgary, Canada, October 26, 2012 --( Released today, an Alberta-wide public opinion survey on federal government infrastructure spending reveals significant support among Albertans for private sector participation in infrastructure. The results also reveal strong opposition to a plan by the federal government to fully fund a new bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan. The privately-owned Ambassador Bridge currently handles the declining Windsor-Detroit traffic.

Commissioned by Enquirica Research, the survey conducted by the Citizen Society Research Lab reveals overall support among Albertans for private sector funding and ownership of infrastructure. Fewer than one in five (17.0%) believe that the federal government should completely fund infrastructure projects that would compete with private sector projects. Slightly more than one-third (36.3%) believe that the federal government should only fund projects if no private sector option exists. A further one-third (34.5%) prefer to subsidize privates sector projects while 12.2% would prefer no federal funding for infrastructure, leaving all projects to be funded through the private sector.

The Citizen Society Research Lab study also revealed that when considered within the context of a series of possible federal government funding priorities, a new Detroit-Windsor bridge has very little support, only 3.9%. When considered independently from other issues and outside of the context of other possible federal government funding priorities, a clear majority of Albertans (56.2%) remain opposed to the planned federal government funding of a new bridge linking Detroit Michigan and Windsor Ontario.

In his analysis of the results, pollster Dr. Faron Ellis commented:

“These results are particularly weak when analyzed in the context of normal patterns of public opinion. That is, most infrastructure spending proposals receive majority or super-majority support when opinion is measured on individual items, independent from other issues and outside of the context of competing priorities. Hence, when a project can only muster 43.8% support, as has the proposed federally funded Detroit-Windsor bridge, we can safely say that it is a very low priority for most Albertans.”

More important to Albertans than federal government spending on a new Windsor-Detroit bridge is increased federal government funding for Alberta municipal infrastructure (40.9%) and tax cuts (36.1%).

The federal government’s proposal to build a $4 billion bridge to compete directly for traffic crossing the Ambassador Bridge is controversial due in part to declining cross-border traffic. Terence Corcoran, editor of the Financial Post, wrote:

The traffic studies and projections backing the new bridge show that traffic volumes across the Windsor-Detroit crossings have plummeted since 1999. Across the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, the falloff in traffic has been dramatic. Traffic at the bridge is down 42%, and down 60% at the tunnel — a function of numerous trends. Due to the rise of the Canadian dollar, rising gas prices, declining auto trade, economic slowdown, changing demographics, the opening of the Detroit casino and other factors, there is little reason to believe traffic levels will soon return to 1999 levels, let alone reach levels proponents of the new bridge are forecasting.

Media is invited to contact Dr. Faron Ellis to discuss the results of this survey:
Faron Ellis, PhD
Citizen Society Research Lab
Lethbridge College
Phone: (403) 320-3422

To read the complete survey, visit Enquirica Research at
Contact Information
Citizen Society Research Lab
Faron Ellis, PhD

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