Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Four recent statements by the musician are met with disagreement by a majority of the province’s residents.

Calgary, AB – Last month, musician Neil Young launched a benefit tour to help an Alberta First Nation and made some controversial remarks about the oil sands. A new poll from Insights West has found that Albertans are not particularly supportive of his analysis.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, most residents believe that the oil sands have been beneficial to all Albertans (83%), to all Canadians (77%) and to First Nations in Alberta (60%). In addition, two thirds (66%) think that companies that work in the oil sands observe environmental laws and regulations.

However, almost half of Albertans (48%), think the oil sands are damaging the province’s ecosystems, and two-in-five (39%) believe the oil sands are affecting the health of people in many Alberta communities.

Neil Young’s Comments

Almost four-in-five Albertans (78%) say they had heard about Young’s comments before taking the survey.

“The level of awareness for the Neil Young controversy in Alberta is very high,” said Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “We are looking at a rare scenario where less than a quarter of residents were not exposed to this issue last month.”

Fewer than three-in-ten residents agreed with Young’s views on Canada “trading integrity for money” (Agree 28%, Disagree 64%) and on the government “breaking treaties with (a) First Nation” (Agree 26%, Disagree 61%), as well as his description of Fort McMurray as “a wasteland” and “the ugliest environmental disaster” (Agree 27%, Disagree 60%).


Albertans reacted slightly better to Young’s depiction of Canadian leaders as “hypocritical” and the notion of money “all going to China” and “belonging to the oil companies” (Agree 34%, Disagree 54%).


Across the province, women and people aged 18-to-34 are more likely to voice agreement with some or all of Young’s statements, but the musician’s arguments did not find majority support in any demographic.

“Most Albertans continue to hold a positive view of the oil sands, but a sizeable proportion of residents are expressing concerns about environmental and health issues,” continues Canseco. “Still, the proportion of residents who tend to be supportive of Young’s position is smaller, although one third appear to be swayed by the idea that Alberta’s natural resources are benefitting companies and China, not Canadians.”


About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has ten full-time and five part-time employees.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from January 24 to January 27, 2014, among 615 residents of Alberta who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age and gender. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West


Photograph: Dru Oja Jay, Dominion