Originally published to BNNBloomberg.ca on Jan. 16, 2019
A majority of Canadians say they see a lack of pipeline capacity as a “crisis” as the country gets set for an election this fall, a new poll suggests.
According to a study released Wednesday by Angus Reid Institute, 58 per cent of Canadians called the country’s pipeline woes a “crisis,” with Albertans making up an overwhelming 87 per cent of those respondents.
Shachi Kurl, Angus Reid Institute’s executive director, said the results show sentiment shifted from respondents in previously-unconcerned provinces to move forward on these energy projects.
“When we asked Canadians in the past: ‘How do you feel about this issue? What do you think?’ we were more likely to get a shrug than anything else,” Kurl told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday.
“Those opinions now in places like Ontario, Atlantic Canada, Quebec [and] Manitoba are starting to gel and they’re starting to harden,” she added. “In all of those provinces – with the exception of Quebec – we’re starting to see people tilting towards wanting to see [the Trans Mountain expansion] pipeline completed… and indeed even expressing some interest in resurrecting the idea of Energy East.”
Half of the survey’s respondents said the Trudeau government is doing too little to build new pipeline capacity. The regional divisions of opinion on this question were similar to those on whether Canada is enduring a crisis. A majority of Quebec respondents (48 per cent) said the Liberals are “pushing too hard to build more pipeline capacity,” while 37 per cent of B.C. respondents backed that claim.
Kurl said the Trudeau government may need to walk a fine line when handling the pipeline issue on the campaign trail this fall.
“Trudeau is in a place where if he isn’t seen to be leading on this file it’s going to bite him in places like Ontario,” she said.
“On the other hand, that leadership – or that support of the pipeline file – stands to lose him votes in parts of British Columbia where the Liberals broke through in 2015 and in Quebec where he needs to be able to pick up votes, because it’s unlikely he’ll pick up those votes in Alberta and Saskatchewan where people are fairly committed Conservative voters.”
The political divide among respondents also followed traditional party lines, with respondents identifying as Conservative supporters being more pro-pipeline and critical of the Trudeau government, while a majority of NDP supporters said they felt the Trudeau government has been pushing too hard.
Angus Reid Institute conducted the survey online from Dec. 21, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019 among a sample of more than 4,000 members of the Angus Reid Forum. The number of respondents from some regions of the country were classified as “oversamples” and were “weighted back to provide a national snapshot” by the institute.