BY DANIEL PROUSSALIDIS ,PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU
OTTAWA – Despite years of anti-oilsands campaigns, a new poll has found Canadians are more likely to support than oppose Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.
An Abacus Data poll exclusively for QMI Agency has found 38% of those asked supported the pipeline that would link Alberta’s oilsands and a tanker terminal in northern B.C., while 29% opposed the project.
David Coletto, president of Abacus Data, says environmental issues are top of mind for most people asked about the project, but another issue is increasingly catching on.
“People recognize the economic benefits that the (oilsands) bring,” he said, crediting the federal government’s aggressive messaging of the last few months. “Having the stability that the oilsands brings, in terms of revenue and jobs and value to the country, for a lot of Canadians is important.”
Support for Northern Gateway was strongest in Alberta and weakest in Quebec.
B.C. was the most polarized province with the clearest division between pro- and anti-Northern Gateway feelings, and the least undecided people.
But as hearings on Northern Gateway heat up, people appear to be paying attention.
“Just awareness of the issue, being aware of this pipeline, has gone from 31% in October 2011 to 65% now,” said Coletto.
Still, fully a third of those asked remain in the mushy middle on the project.
“There’s still opportunity for both sides here to convince a large chunk of Canadians one way or the other – and a lot of those Canadians are in Quebec and Eastern Canada where the issue is not front and centre,” said Coletto.
Politics played a big role in where people stood too.
Conservative fans tended to favour Northern Gateway, NDP devotees were usually in the “anti” camp, and Liberal supporters were split evenly between pro, anti and undecided.
Fully 40% of Green Party backers were undecided.
Coletto says that’s because other polling has shown a big chunk of Green Party support is a protest vote. “It seems that not all Green Party voters are environmentalists.”
The poll also found the Keystone XL pipeline to connect the oilsands to Texas refineries received 35% support among Canadians with 28% opposed.
The online survey was conducted online with a representative sample 1,000 respondents from a large panel of Canadians. The margin of error for a random survey of its size would be +3.1%, 19 times our 20.