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Who’s afraid of the big green tax shift? Not most voters

Most Canadians fear for their financial safety on the eve of the federal election.

But that doesn’t mean they’re afraid of fiddling with one important economic variable. Most are open to a major change in who gets taxed and why.

Two out of three are in favour of a tax shift that puts a bigger squeeze on polluting companies instead of personal income, according to a poll by McAllister Opinion Research.

The Liberal and Green parties have each proposed a version of tax shifting that targets polluters and green house gas emitters.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has called the Liberals’ carbon tax “job killing.”

But most people think the general idea is a good one, according to the McAllister nationwide poll, conducted from October 5 to 8.

It asked: “How concerned are you that the financial crisis now happening in the United States, might affect your own personal financial situation here in Canada?”

More than three out of four said they were very concerned (41 per cent) or somewhat concerned (37 per cent).

The same sample was asked: “Some people are saying that Canada should follow the lead of European countries that have cut income taxes and increased taxes on pollution. In these countries, people and companies that pollute more, pay more tax. Those who pollute less, pay less tax. Have you heard of this approach before?” Six out of ten said they were familiar with the tax shift idea.

When asked whether they thought it was a good idea, 66 per cent said they did, while 19 per cent said no.

The poll, fielded in English and French and based on a random digit dial telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and over, has a margin of error of ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee.

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