2016 Public Opinion Poll: Canadians’ Attitudes towards Marine Shipping

Executive Summary

ARI Shipping Poll ReportOverall, these findings show that Canadians are equally aware of the importance of marine shipping to our economy and that environmental concerns cannot be ignored, especially along our coastlines.

One of the key lessons learned from the survey is that Canadians expect improvement by all marine shipping stakeholders — from governments to industry to port authorities — to provide better knowledge and oversight of marine shipping activities, especially safety policies.

These findings emerge from an Angus Reid Institute public opinion poll conducted in partnership with Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping.

The history of Canada is inextricably linked to its waters. Before Hudson and Cartier, before even Leif Eriksson and his Viking settlers in Newfoundland, the ocean was a vital source of sustenance for Canada’s coastal First Nations.

But to what extent do Canadians today identify as citizens of a maritime or sea-faring nation? Across the country, almost six-in-ten said they identify as such “strongly” (16%) or “a fair amount” (42%), and another three-in-ten (28%) said “a bit”, leaving only one-in-seven saying “not at all” (14%).

Predictably, this identification is much stronger among Canadians living in coastal regions, where roughly three-in-four people share this maritime view of Canada (72% in BC and 81% in Atlantic Canada, where almost half strongly identify this way).


Highlights from the poll include:

  • Majority of Canadians (86%) described their overall view of the marine shipping industry as “positive”
  • Canadians feel confident that marine shipping is safe, including the shipment of LNG (but have concerns about shipping petroleum products)
  • Most Canadians have confidence in existing oversight mechanisms to ensure industry safety (but have concerns that not enough attention is paid to them)
  • Vast majority of Canadians (75%) believe marine shipping makes an important contribution to the economy, facilitates international trade and benefits coastal communities
  • Narrow majority of Canadians oppose expanded oil tanker traffic in Bay of Fundy (57%) and along BC south coast (55%)
  • Small majority (53%) support federal government’s moratorium on crude oil shipments along BC’s northern coast
  • Only 14% of Canadians are aware that there have been NO major oil spills in Canada in the last decade (major: 700 tonnes and greater)
  • Canadians’ top three concerns about shipping safety are: potential oil spills (67%), potential fuel spills (61%) and water pollution (59%)
  • Canadians ranked port and harbour authorities as doing the best job in terms of their contribution toward safe shipping in Canada (64%), followed by the shipping industry and specific federal departments