More Canadians back TransMountain pipeline, but support split on B.C.-Alta. spat: poll
Angus Reid Institute finds 48 per cent in B.C. support project, 40 per cent opposed — strongest opposition among women aged 18-34
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As the political sparring match over Kinder Morgan heats up between B.C. and Alberta, new polling by the Angus Reid Institute shows support amongst Canadians is evenly split between the two sides, even as more people continue to support the project itself.
Both governments, though, are enjoying a majority of support from their own residents, the poll shows.
“At the end of the day this is a battle for hearts and minds, it’s a publicity war as much as it is sort of a meaningful conflict over the future of the pipeline’s fate,” said Shachi Kurl, the institute’s executive director.
The poll offers new insights about where the rest of Canada stands on the issue “since Premier Horgan and Premier Notley started throwing fireballs at each other over the Rockies," she said.
While not new, the conflict between the two governments escalated in recent weeks after the B.C. government announced a proposal that would see a ban on any increased flow of diluted bitumen until the government is satisfied there are sufficient measures in place to prevent and clean up spills. In response, the Alberta government implemented a ban on B.C. wine and has threatened further sanctions unless the B.C. government backs off its opposition to the pipeline project.
“Some of this is about the pipeline but a lot of this is also about political survival,” said Kurl.
“Rachel Notley has to double down on her fight with British Columbia because if she doesn’t she’ll be accused of being soft on this issue, with the United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney breathing down her neck,” she said.
“In British Columbia John Horgan has to walk a fine line, he’s already said yes to the Site C hydroelectric dam so he can’t risk alienating the environmental wing of the NDP and sending them off to the Greens.”
The online survey conducted by the institute between Feb. 15-19 among 2,501 members of the Angus Reid Forum found the country is evenly split over which government is coming across as more reasonable and persuasive. The poll had the equivalent of a 2.5-point error margin, the institute stated.
Fifty-eight per cent of British Columbian respondents, meanwhile, said their provincial government’s environmental reasons for wanting to delay the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion are more compelling than the Alberta government’s economic arguments for avoiding any delay, while 82 per cent of Albertans feel the opposite.
As for the 1,100-kilometre pipeline's expansion itself, the majority of Canadians support it with 49 per cent either strongly or moderately supporting the project and 33 per cent opposing it. Eighteen per cent of respondents weren’t sure.
In B.C., meanwhile, 48 per cent of respondents support the project — which would nearly triple diluted bitumen from Alberta's oil sands to the coast, and increase tanker traffic seven-fold — while 40 per cent oppose it. By contrast, in Alberta 78 per cent support it and 14 per cent oppose.
The strongest opposition to the project is actually found in Quebec, where 44 per cent of respondents oppose the project and 34 per cent support it.
Nationally, the perspective varies considerably by age and gender. The most significant opposition comes from women aged 18-34. Fifty per cent of women in that age group oppose the project and 27 per cent support it.
Meanwhile, 60 per cent of men aged 35-54 who responded supported the project, while 29 per cent opposed it.