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Poll finds Harper faces ‘political backlash’ if Northern Gateway approved

Bloomberg reports, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper risks a political backlash in British Columbia ahead of next year’s election if his government approves Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline, a Bloomberg-Nanos poll shows. …A straight up approval could be unpopular in a province where the Conservatives hold 21 of 36 districts in the legislature and will be key to securing another victory in 2015. …British Columbia is key to Harper’s majority government. The Conservatives took 46 percent of the province’s vote in 2011, compared with 33 percent for the opposition New Democratic Party and 13 percent for the Liberals.”

The poll finds:

  • 47 per cent said they’d be less likely to vote for Harper’s Conservative Party if the government approves the project, including 19 percent of those who said they supported Harper in the 2011 elections

  • Among the 32 percent who didn’t declare how they voted, respondents were five times less likely to support the Conservatives than back them if the pipeline is approved

  • Among women, 55 percent said they’d be less likely to vote for Harper if the government supports the project

  • 39 per cent of men also would be less likely to back the governing party

  • 34 percent of British Columbians want Harper to reject the pipeline, 33 per cent want it delayed for further review, and 29 per cent want it approved.

Other polls have also shown significant opposition to the pipeline, including a Stratcom poll indicating 60.3 per cent of British Columbians opposed the pipeline and a Mustel poll which found that 80 per cent of British Columbians support a crude oil tanker ban on the West coast.

The article notes, “Harper’s cabinet must decide by June 17 whether to permit the pipeline. The government could also refer the project back to the regulatory panel that reviewed the route for nearly four years. …[Or] approving the pipeline with further conditions would put the onus on Calgary-based Enbridge to ‘sell’ the project, allowing the government to insulate its own lawmakers against the political fallout of approval, [chairman of Nanos Research Group Nik] Nanos said. …The New Democrats plan to showcase their opposition of Northern Gateway during the next election campaign, said Nathan Cullen, NDP lawmaker for the B.C. district that includes the port town of Kitimat, the pipeline’s end point.”

The Council of Canadians opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline project It involves two 1,200-kilometre underground pipelines. One pipeline would move 525,000 barrels a day of bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands to Kitimat on the coast of the Pacific Ocean (to then be transported on the ocean by 225 super tankers a year), the other would move 193,000 barrels a day of condensate, which is used to dilute the bitumen from the tar sands so that it can flow through the pipelines. It would facilitate a 30 per cent expansion of the tar sands, this country’s fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Last December, we signed a Solidarity Accord supporting the Save the Fraser Declaration which bans the pipeline and supertanker project, and all other similar projects, from the traditional territories of 130 First Nations. Our Vancouver-area supporters will be participating in today’s ‘Protecting Our Sacred Waters’ protest against the pipeline that is being organized by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.