Media Release – Manitobans Split on Whether to Sell Water to the United States

Frontier Centre, Manitoba, Press Release (historic), Trade, Uncategorized, Water

If you live in Winnipeg or are below age 55, you are more likely to favour selling water from Hudson’s Bay to the United States; if you live in a rural area or are over 55, you are more likely to be opposed. Also, men were more in favour of selling water to the United States than were women. Those are the results of a new poll released by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and conducted by Probe Research.

Details of poll:

Province-wide:
• 46% of Manitobans surveyed moderately (26%) or strongly (20%) support water exports to the United States;
• 45% of Manitobans surveyed moderately (13%) or strongly (32%) oppose water exports to the United States;
• 9% did not answer or did not know.

In Winnipeg:
• 46% in favour (23% strongly supportive and 23% moderately supportive);
• 44% opposed (32% strongly opposed and 12% moderately opposed);

Rural Manitoba:
• 44% in favour (15% strongly supportive and 29% moderately supportive);
• 47% opposed (33% strongly opposed and 14% moderately opposed);

Gender differences were more pronounced with 49% of Manitoba males in favour while only 42% of women were in favour of water sales. Similarly, Manitobans aged 34 and under were more likely to favour water sales (52%) than to be opposed (41%); middle-aged Manitobans were evenly split while those over age 55 saw only 38% in favour of water sales with 50% opposed.

“Given historic suspicion of selling water to the United States and high-profile lobbying campaigns by some activists, I’m surprised support for water exports is level with opposition to the same, though there does seem to be a significant core of Manitobans hostile to any notion of water sales” said Peter Holle, president of the Frontier Centre.

Holle noted that the sale of water to the United States could bring as much as $1.5 billion annually to Manitoba’s provincial coffers; that would be higher than the $1.1 billion the government of Saskatchewan received from the energy industry in land sale auctions in 2008 for the right to drill for oil and natural gas.

Holle noted $1.5 billion could provide the province with multiple choices such as:

– Elimination of the provincial sales tax worth about $1.6 billion or;
– Elimination of two-thirds of the $2.3 billion provincial income tax or;
– Elimination of all taxes on business–the corporate income tax worth $346 million and the corporate capital tax worth $135 million–and still have $1 billion left over, or;
– Increase health care spending (now budgeted at $4.3 billion) by one-third or;
– Double the Education, Citizenship and Youth budget (now budgeted at almost $1.5 billion).

“Unlike oil and natural gas, water is the ultimate renewable resource” said Holle. “In that sense. it is akin to selling wheat and other agricultural products. Unlike fossil fuels, water and crops are the ultimate sustainable resources. In Manitoba’s case, selling water would also be very profitable for the provincial government.

Download a copy of the poll question and details at fcpp.org:

For more information, contact:

Peter Holle
President, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
(204) 957-1567
hollep@fcpp.org

David Seymour
Saskatchewan Director, Frontier Centre for Public Policy
(306) 352-2915
seymourd@fcpp.org