Canadians Evenly Divided on Fed’s Purchase of Trans Mountain Pipeline: 42% Support, 42% Oppose, 16% Don’t Know

Support for Pipeline Expansion Driven by Economy and Value, While Opposition Driven by Environmental Concerns and Consent

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs, Ipsos
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Toronto, ON, July 18, 2018 — Canadians are divided on the federal government’s move to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan, according to a new Ipsos poll conducted for Global News. An equal proportion support (42%; 11% strongly/31% somewhat) the decision as they do oppose it (42% oppose; 20% strongly/22% somewhat), while 16% don’t know how they feel. In order to ensure that the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is built, the Federal Government agreed to buy the existing pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion, and will pay for the remaining cost to construct the expansion of the pipeline

Regionally, Albertans are the strongest supporters (58%) of the pipeline purchase, followed by British Columbia (46%), Atlantic Canada (43%), Ontario (40%), Saskatchewan/Manitoba (40%), and Quebec (34%). A majority (55%) of Liberal voters stand behind Trudeau’s decision to support the purchase, while fewer Conservative (45%) and NDP voters (40%) support the purchase. Support falls off further among Bloc (33%) and other party voters (7%).

Four in ten (41%) Canadians believe that the federal government’s purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline was necessary to ensure that the pipeline expansion gets built. Notably, a majority of Albertans (55%) and British Columbians (50%) believe the purchase was a necessary decision. Conversely, one in three (35%) stated that the purchase was unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer’s money, while 23% say they don’t know. In fact, nearly half (46%) of Canadians do not believe the pipeline is a good use of taxpayers’ dollars, with only a minority (36%) in agreement that it is, while 18% don’t know.

However, many Canadians do believe there could be beneficial outcomes from the purchase of the pipeline. Six in ten (61%) Canadians believe the purchase of the pipeline signals to foreign countries and companies that Canada is serious about exporting its oil and helping businesses succeed. Only 21% disagree with this, and 18% don’t know. Others are optimistic about the project being completed with the feds ownership, with half (51%) indicating with the federal government’s ownership of the pipeline, I’m confident that the project will get completed. Three in ten (29%) disagree, while two in ten (20%) don’t know.

Support for Pipeline Expansion Remains Strong at 52%; Environmental Concerns Drive Opposition

Though divided on the purchase, many Canadians continue to want the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to a Vancouver-area port to advance. While more than half (52%) of Canadians are in support (20% support/32% somewhat) of the expansion, support has fallen 4 points since May. One in four (26%; down 2 points) oppose (13% strongly/13% somewhat) the expansion, and 22% (up 2 points) don’t support or oppose it.

Overall, eight in ten (81%) Canadians say their position on the pipeline expansion is influenced by the environment, followed by the strength of Canada’s economy, and getting value for the taxes you pay. However, those who indicate they oppose the pipeline expansion are more likely to say their position is influenced by the environment than any other factor. Supporters of the expansion are more likely to be influenced by economic factors such as the strength of the economy, getting value for the taxes you pay, and gas prices, and the political situation in Canada.

% who say the following influence their position on the pipeline expansion (very influential/somewhat influential)

Total

Among those who support the expansion

Among those who oppose the expansion

The environment

81%

78%

87%

The strength of Canada’s economy

78%

91%

62%

Getting value for the taxes you pay

75%

83%

62%

Gas prices

67%

78%

45%

The political situation in Canada

62%

70%

50%

While those opposed to the pipeline expansion are concerned about potential environmental disasters the pipeline expansion could cause, and do not believe the environmental concerns about the pipeline expansion outweigh the economic benefits of expanding the pipeline, supporters and opposers do share common ground on one perspective.

  • 70% of supporters and 68% of opposers agree that the federal government should provide tax-dollars to help British Columbia prepare for and deal with environmental disasters that could occur because of increased tanker traffic. Two in three (64%) Canadians overall agree, up 3 points since May.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following about the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Total % agree

Among those who support the expansion

Among those who oppose the expansion

The federal government should provide tax-dollars to help British Columbia prepare for and deal with environmental disasters that could occur because of increased tanker traffic

64% (+3)

70%

68%

With increased tanker traffic on the coast of British Columbia because of the pipeline expansion, I am very concerned about the potential for an environmental disaster

55% (-2)

47%

79%

I have confidence that our governments are prepared to deal with a spill of oil in the waters off the BC coast

41% (-)

64%

15%

The environmental concerns about the pipeline expansion outweigh the economic benefits of expanding the pipeline

42% (-1)

32%

68%

 

 

Regardless of environmental risks, overall, six in ten (60%; unchanged) Canadians believe the pipeline expansion is in Canada’s national interest, and a similar proportion believes the expansion is necessary to show the world that Canada is serious about exporting its good (57%; up 3 points). Though, these statements are significantly more likely to resonate with supporters of the pipeline expansion than they do with those who oppose the expansion 88% agree among those who support vs. 26% among those who oppose, and 85% among those who support vs. 22% among those who oppose, respectively.

Regardless of Ownership, Canadians Continue to Prefer Supreme Court Backing to any Federal Intervention with the Pipeline Expansion

The expansion of the pipeline has seen extreme opposition from British Columbians, and regardless of the government’s new ownership of the pipeline, Canadians continue to prefer Supreme Court backing on any federal intervention that may occur moving forward.

  • Half (49%; unchanged) would support the federal government using its legal authority to require British Columbia to accept the pipeline expansion, but only if the Supreme Court rules that the federal government has the power to do so. One in three (34%; unchanged) oppose.
  • Four in ten (41%; unchanged) support the federal government using its financial leverage to persuade British Columbia to accept the pipeline expansion with incentives if they cooperate (i.e. an increase of federal transfer payments that fund provincial government programs), while 43% (down 2 points) oppose.
  • Two in five (39%; down 3 points) support the federal government using its legal authority to require British Columbia to accept the pipeline expansion, before the Supreme Court rules on whether it has the authority to do so, while 45% (down 1 point) oppose.
  • The least popular option to Canadians is if the federal government uses its financial leverage to persuade British Columbia to accept the pipeline expansion with penalties if they don’t cooperate (37% support; down 4 points vs. 48% oppose; up 3 points)

In fact, more Canadians (51%; up 3 points) believe the pipeline expansion should only go forward with the full consent of the government of British Columbia. Only one in three (35%; down 1 point) disagree with this, while 14% don’t know. Those who oppose the pipeline expansion are significantly more likely (74%) to agree with this compared to supporters (43%).

Many Canadians continue to express the need for the First Nations voice, with 55% who say the pipeline expansion should only go forward with the full consent of the First Nations whose territory the pipeline passes through, up 5 points. Less than one in three (32%; down 4 points) disagree, and 14% say they are not sure. Again, consent is seen to be of a more prevalent issue with those who oppose the expansion (75%) compared to supporters (49%).

However, at the end of the day, more than half (52%; down 2 points) of Canadians also hold the opinion that the federal government should have the authority to make decisions on projects deemed to be in the national interest of Canada, even if it overrides the wishes of the provincial government. One in three (33%; up 3 points) disagree, while 15% are not sure. Supporters of the expansion are more likely to agree with this than oppose it (76% vs. 26%).

Canadians Do Not Believe Parties Involved Are Handling Expansion Dispute Well

When asked to rate how Trudeau, Premier Notley, Premier Horgan, Kinder Morgan Canada, and Opposition groups are handling the dispute over the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Canadians are more likely to rate their performance as poor than well.

While Trudeau’s rating has seen an increase of 5 points from 34% to 39%, the good does not outweigh the bad, as 43% (-5) believe he is doing a poor job, and 17% are unsure. BC Premier John Horgan’s rating has remained virtually unchanged at 24% (-1) well vs. 41% poor (-2), and 35% don’t know. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s rating has seen a dip, from 35% to 30%. Nearly one in four (36%; up 3 points) rate her performance as poor, and 34% are unsure.

Assessing the seller of the pipeline, Canadians are less likely to believe Kinder Morgan Canada is handling the expansion dispute well down to 30% from 34%, while nearly four in ten (36%; up 3 points) give them a poor rating, and a similar proportion (34%) say they don’t know. As for the opposition groups within British Columbia (i.e. environmental groups, First Nations, etc.), only one in three (32%; down 3 points) Canadians say they are doing a good job handling the dispute, whereas 41% (-1) give them a poor rating, and 27% are not sure.

Despite the pipeline dispute consistently being in the news cycle, Canadians are losing interest in the subject, as less than half (47%) agree that they are personally interested in the issue, down 4 points. Conversely, 43% disagree with this (up 4 points), while one in ten (9%) are not sure of their level of interest.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between July 13 and 17, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Darrell Bricker
CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs
+1 416 324-2001
darrell.bricker@ipsos.com

About Ipsos Public Affairs

Ipsos Public Affairs is a non-partisan, objective, survey-based research practice made up of seasoned professionals. We conduct strategic research initiatives for a diverse number of Canadian American and international organizations, based not only on public opinion research, but elite stakeholder, corporate, and media opinion research.
Ipsos has media partnerships with the most prestigious news organizations around the world. In Canada, Ipsos Public Affairs is the polling partner for Global News. Internationally, Ipsos Public Affairs is the media polling supplier to Reuters News, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. Ipsos Public Affairs is a member of the Ipsos Group, a leading global survey-based market research company. We provide boutique-style customer service and work closely with our clients, while also undertaking global research.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry.
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The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs, Ipsos

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