As Canada and the United States continue to jockey over the future of their trade relationship, Canadians are showing an increased appreciation for country’s marine shipping capacity.
That was the conclusion reached by national non-profit, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI), who conducted a poll with Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping to find out how opinions on the subject have changed over the past two years.
The study found that Canadians place higher value on marine shipping than they did in 2016.
In 2016, the ARI asked whether or not marine shipping was growing or shrinking in importance. Forty-three per cent responded that the industry is becoming more important while 47 per cent said it was staying about the same.
In 2018, more than half (55 per cent) of the people surveyed said that shipping has become more important while fewer than a third (31 per cent) said it remains the same.
Meghan Mathieson, communication and research manager for Clear Seas, said the results show that the average person recognizes how vital shipping is to the Canadian economy.
“Particularly with access to markets outside the U.S., which we primarily access through rail and truck,” Mathieson said. “If we want to go anywhere else, it needs to go by ship.”
Mathieson said the changing perception could also be observed in how Canadians generally view the risks of marine shipping. For example, oil spills have remained a consistent top-of-mind concern since 2016, the fear of an oil spill actually taking place dropped from 61 per cent to 51 per cent and the fear of water pollution decreased from 59 per cent to 45 per cent.
“So people are having the same kinds of concerns, but not as many people are concerned,” she said.
Mathieson added that people’s responses varied depending on which region of the country they live in.
“People in Alberta or people in the Prairies generally feel differently than people on the coasts do about the benefits and the risks, which is not a surprising finding,” she said.