More British Columbians now support the Trans Mountain pipeline project: poll

A new poll says more than half of British Columbians now support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, and the majority of all Canadians surveyed believe the province is wrong to try to stop the project.

Nationally, 2 in 3 Canadians say B.C. is wrong to try to stop pipeline from moving forward

B.C. Premier John Horgan discusses his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on the deadlock over Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday. Horgan hasn't budged when it comes to his government's position against the project. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

A new poll says more than half of British Columbians now support the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, with the number of backers rising even as the provincial government digs in its heels on the battle to stop the project from moving forward.

Support for the Kinder Morgan project has risen to 54 per cent in B.C., according to the Angus Reid Institute — up six per cent from February.

The online survey, conducted with 2,125 Canadian adults on Monday and Tuesday, found that those in favour are spread across the province: about half of respondents in Metro Vancouver and on Vancouver Island said they would support the project, with the number rising to 60 per cent in the rest of B.C.

The approval, according to the poll, doesn't mean British Columbians don't have concerns.

A kayaker paddles past the Kinder Morgan yard in Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver, B.C., in this file photo. A new poll from the Angus Reid Institute found British Columbians are still worried about the risks associated with a tanker spill in the inlet. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Asked to say which potential risk worried them most, more than half of respondents — both those opposed and in favour of the project — chose an oil tanker spill.

Only 12 per cent said they weren't troubled by the other risks, including pipeline construction, a pipeline spill or increased tanker traffic distracting from B.C.'s "natural beauty."

West Coasters were split three ways when it came to weighing environmental risk against economic gain: 35 per cent said risk outweighs benefit, while the same number said the exact opposite. The remaining 30 per cent said the risks and benefits are equal.

Cedar George-Parker addresses the crowd as protesters against the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension defy a court order and block an entrance to the company's property in Burnaby on April 7. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Canadians' reaction to political feud

On Monday, Alberta introduced legislation that would allow the energy minister to use export permits to control how much and what products truckers, pipeline companies and rail operators can ship.

The province says it might use the legislation to fire back at B.C. if it continues to block the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the courts.

In turn, B.C.'s attorney general is threatening to sue if the new law causes gasoline prices in B.C. to skyrocket.

The dispute between provinces, which has been at a fever pitch for weeks, is headed for a showdown on May 31 — the date on which Kinder Morgan Canada has said it might cancel the $7.4-billion project unless it is convinced it will be allowed to proceed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on Sunday, after which he asserted that the pipeline would get built.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks before his meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan, left, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, in his office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sunday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

For the Angus Reid poll, respondents were asked to weigh in on how Horgan, Notley and Trudeau have handled the ongoing battle.

All three politicians received mixed reviews, but more Canadians said they thought Notley was doing a good job.

The opposite was true for Trudeau and Horgan. Sixty per cent of British Columbians and 71 per cent of Albertans said the prime minister has done a poor job handling the file.

Nationally, more Canadians said they were losing overall patience with the B.C. government's delay tactics — two in three said B.C. is wrong to try to stop the pipeline from moving forward.

Nearly 200 people have been arrested and charged at anti-pipeline protests in B.C. in recent weeks, charged for violating a court order to stay back from Kinder Morgan worksites in Burnaby. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The poll also found that Alberta's threats against its western counterpart have been but a blip on the radar for the project's longtime opponents in B.C. — nearly half said they would "stand firm in trying to block the pipeline," regardless of the threats.

The majority of British Columbians said the provincial government should throw in the towel if the courts say it doesn't have the constitutional authority to stop the project. 

The poll's probability sample with its sample plan would carry a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The institute said discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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