Citizen Society Research Lab

This report analyzes Albertans’ opinions about six public policy issues, each of which can be conceptualized along a traditional versus progressive dimension whereby the progressive position supports greater individual autonomy and choice and the traditional position supports greater government restrictions of individual choice in these matters. As is to be expected in an advanced liberal-pluralist political culture, a considerable amount of diversity exists within the overall Alberta public opinion structure with divisions often based on known causes such as religion and political partisanship, generational and gender differences, or economic and education differences. Overall, Albertans are increasingly inclined to support individual choice on these issues.


The six policy issues: Opinion was measured on the issues of abortion choice, medical cannabis, capital punishment, medical assistance in dying, same-sex marriage, and recreational cannabis. Over the past 10 years opinion has remained relatively consistent on two of the items (abortion choice and capital punishment). However, Albertans are becoming increasingly progressive on the other four items (medical cannabis, medical assistance in dying, same-sex marriage, and recreational cannabis.)

  • Albertans strongly support a woman’s right to make abortion decisions for herself (78.5%). Support has ranged from 77.6% in 2009 to as much as 85.3% in 2016.
  • A majority of Albertans support reinstating capital punishment for people convicted of first degree murder (61.5%). Support has ranged from a low of 53.9 in 2011 to 62.8% in 2018.
  • Albertans overwhelmingly support cannabis remaining legal for medical purposes (90.9%). Support has steadily risen from 73.8% in 2009.
  • Albertans strongly support legal access to medical assistance in dying for those suffering from terminal illnesses (81.1%), a substantial increase from 64.3% in 2009.
  • Albertans strongly support same-sex marriages having equal legal status with traditional marriages (74.7%). Support has increased from 65.7% in 2009.
  • Albertans are evenly divided on the issue of legal recreational cannabis. Slightly more than half (52.7%) are supportive, while 47.3% are opposed. Support has increased from only 36.5% in 2009.

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Alberta Opinion Structure Winter 2019.pdf