Public-opinion research contracted by Ottawa suggests the pro-resource-development Conservative government has not yet convinced Canadians of the national benefits of the energy industry.
Two polling companies conducted cross-country focus groups last fall — in addition to one large national poll — and reported a common theme: most Canadians just don't see what's in it for them.
"The perceived advantages of pipelines were economic — though few participants saw Canada as a whole benefiting from pipelines being built," said a report from Environics posted publicly this week.
"Instead, they tended to assume that any benefits would mainly be going to individuals getting short- and medium-term jobs in pipeline construction or to oil companies as profits."
In a separate focus-group study of government advertising, Harris-Decima reported that "Participants' comments suggest messaging that would further clarify how the resource sector benefits all Canadians may be of particular interest."
Natural Resources Canada, which commissioned the two studies at a combined cost of almost $255,000, has spent more than $30 million on resource industry advertising over the last three years, with millions more budgeted this year.
That's in addition to national ad campaigns by the Canadian Association of Oil Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and various individual energy corporations.
The government is also starting a two-year, $24-million international campaign aimed at countering negative perceptions of Alberta's oil sands.