Majority of Canadians (56%) Support Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, including 55% of British Columbians

More British Columbians Give Premier Horgan Poor Marks (48%) than Good Marks (39%) in his Handling of Pipeline Issue as Six in Ten (60%) Canadians and British Columbians say Pipeline in the National Interest

The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs, Ipsos
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Toronto, Ontario, May 3, 2018 — A majority (56%) of Canadians support (24% strongly/32% somewhat) the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from Alberta to a Vancouver-area port, while a minority (24%) opposes (11% strongly/13% somewhat) the expansion. Two in ten (20%) Canadians don’t know. The province of British Columbia has defiantly refused to allow the expansion, sending Canada into a constitutional conundrum and leaving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a difficult portfolio to manage.

Even in British Columbia, a majority (55%) supports (30% strongly/26% somewhat) the pipeline expansion, compared to four in ten (37%) who oppose (17% strongly/20% somewhat), while 7% do not know. In Alberta, eight in ten (84%) support (60% strongly/24% somewhat) the pipeline expansion, while just 7% oppose (2% strongly/4% somewhat), and 9% don’t know. A majority of those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (60%) and Ontario (58%) support the pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast, while support softens in Atlantic Canada (49%). In Quebec, while only 42% support the expansion, they narrowly outweigh the 36% who oppose it.

Within British Columbia, 57% of those in Metro Vancouver and the Interior and North support the pipeline, while support dips to 48% on Vancouver Island while 41% oppose on the Island. Support is highest among those supporting the BC Liberals (82%), but lower among those who support the BC NDP (42%) or Green Party of BC (31%), underscoring the highly-political nature of the issue. Within Alberta, support is equally strong in Calgary (85%), Edmonton (82%) and elsewhere (85%), and remains strong among voters of every political party including the United Conservatives (96%), the Alberta Party (86%), Liberals (83%) and the Notley NDP (81%).

Nationally, support for the pipeline expansion is highest among supporters of the federal Conservative Party (78%), followed by supporters of the incumbent Trudeau Liberals (64%). Support for the project drops precipitously among supporters of the NDP (41%), Bloc (24%) or other parties (33%). Interestingly, among the 51% of Canadians who are interested in the issue personally, 71% support the expansion. In contrast, among the 39% who disagree that they’re interested in the issue, only 48% support the expansion.

BC Premier Horgan offside with Public Opinion in BC

While British Columbia Premier Horgan seems intransigent in his opposition towards the Kinder Morgan project, his position appears to be offside with many British Columbians. Asked to rate how BC Premier John Horgan is handling the dispute over the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, four in ten (39%) British Columbians say he’s doing well (12% very/26% fairly). However, half (48%) say he’s handling the issue poorly (28% very/20% somewhat), while one in ten (13%) can’t say either way.

The chart below outlines the proportion of Canadians, overall, British Columbians and Albertans who say that each of the major players in the dispute is handling the situation well or poorly.

 

Canadians Overall

British Columbians

Albertans

 

% well

% poorly

% well

% poorly

% well

% poorly

BC Premier John Horgan

23%

43%

39%

48%

11%

73%

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley

35%

33%

30%

56%

48%

42%

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

34%

48%

31%

59%

24%

65%

Kinder Morgan Canada

34%

33%

40%

42%

52%

27%

Opposition groups within BC (i.e. environmental groups, First Nations, etc)

35%

40%

41%

47%

18%

66%

The verdict on Horgan is decidedly negative, while Notley is neutral on balance Canada-wide but viewed positively in Alberta and negatively in British Columbia. Opinion towards Justin Trudeau’s handling of the situation is also negative, as are opinions towards opposition groups in British Columbia. Interestingly, opinions towards Kinder Morgan are neutral across the country and in BC, but very positive in Alberta.

In fact, it was Kinder Morgan’s May 31st deadline that accelerated the sense of urgency around the issue. Reflecting on this:
• Half (50%) agree that Kinder Morgan’s decision to impose a May 31st deadline on deciding about the future of the pipeline was a smart move to force the governments into taking decisive action. Three in ten (30%) disagree that it was, while 20% don’t know.
• But a slim majority (53%) also agrees that Kinder Morgan's decision to impose a May 31st deadline on deciding about the future of the pipeline was nothing more than a pressure tactic to help their profits. One quarter (26%) disagree, and 21% don’t know.

Thinking about which of these major players has the best interests of Canada at heart when it comes to their position on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, one quarter (25%) says it’s Justin Trudeau. Others received a smaller share of the vote, including opposition groups within BC (18%), Alberta Premier Rachel Notley (12%), Kinder Morgan Canada (8%), and BC Premier John Horgan (5%). One in three (33%) Canadians are unsure. Moreover, only 15% of British Columbians say that BC Premier John Horgan most has Canada’s best interests at heart.

Canadians Appear Cautious on Use of Federal Powers to Impact Outcome of Pipeline Debate, Prefer Supreme Court Backing on any Federal Intervention

As the federal governments weighs what levers it might have at its disposal to persuade or compel British Columbia to approve the pipeline expansion, the poll reveals that Canadians are cautious about the various tactics the federal government might use to impose its will on the province of British Columbia:
• Four in ten (42%) Canadians support the federal government of Canada using tax-dollars to help ensure that the pipeline gets built, while 46% oppose. Support is also 42% in BC, and 65% in Alberta.
• Nearly half (47%) of Canadians support the provincial government of Alberta using tax-dollars to help ensure that the pipeline gets built, while 38% oppose. Support is 49% in BC and 63% in Alberta.
• A similar proportion (45%) of Canadians support the provincial government of BC using tax-dollars to help ensure that the pipeline expansion gets built, while 40% oppose. Support is 39% in BC, and 65% in Alberta.
• Four in ten (41%) Canadians 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 45% oppose this idea. Support rises to 46% in BC and 51% in Alberta.
• Four in ten (41%) Canadians also support the federal government using its financial leverage to persuade British Columbia to accept the pipeline expansion with penalties if they don't cooperate (i.e. reduction of federal transfer payments that fund provincial government programs), while 45% oppose. Support falls to 37% in BC, but rises to 73% in Alberta.
• Four in ten (42%) Canadians 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 a nearly equal proportion (44%) opposes this course of action. Support in BC is 42%, while in Alberta it is 69%.
• The most popular idea, half (49%) of Canadians 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, while only one in three (34%) oppose this concept. Both a majority of British Columbians (53%) and Albertans (67%) support federal intervention, but only if the Supreme Court rules that the federal government has this authority.

Six in Ten (60%) say Pipeline Expansion is in Canada’s National Interest

Likely informing their position on the pipeline expansion, six in ten (60%) Canadians agree (27% strongly/33% somewhat) that the pipeline expansion is in Canada’s national interest, while just one quarter (24%) disagrees (10% strongly/14% somewhat) with this position. Two in ten (16%) are unsure. Agreement is strongest in Alberta (83%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (64%) Ontario (60%) and BC (60%), and lower in Atlantic Canada (52%) and Quebec (49%).

Given the belief among a majority that the project is in Canada’s national interest, a majority (54%) also agrees (22% strongly/33% somewhat) 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 a provincial government. Three in ten (30%) disagree (13% strongly/17% somewhat), while 15% don’t know. Even a majority (54%) of British Columbians agree that the federal government should be able to override the province on matters deemed in the national interest.

The idea of federal government intervention is contentious for many who would appear to prefer a negotiated settlement:
• 48% agree that the pipeline expansion should only go forward with the full consent of the government of British Columbia, while 36% disagree and 16% don’t know.
• One half (50%) agrees that the pipeline expansion should only go forward with the full consent of the First Nations whose territory the pipeline passes through, while four in ten (36%) disagree and one in ten (14%) don’t know.

Environmental Concerns are Important to Canadians

Canadians continue to be concerned about the potential environmental impact of the pipeline expansion and the resulting increase in tanker traffic off the BC coast:
• Six in ten (57%) agree that with increased tanker traffic on the coast of British Columbia because of the pipeline expansion, they are very concerned about the potential for an environmental disaster, 63% in BC, while just three in ten Canadians (30%) disagree and 13% don’t know.
• Canadians are split on whether they have confidence that our governments are prepared to deal with a spill of oil in the waters off the BC coast: 41% agree they have confidence, while 44% disagree that they’re confident. Nearly two in ten (15%) are unsure.
• Six in ten (61%) Canadians 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. Just 24% disagree with this funding, while 16% don’t know. Support rises to 82% in BC.
• Four in ten (43%) agree that the environmental concerns about the pipeline expansion outweigh the economic benefits of expanding the pipeline, while 38% disagree and 19% don’t know.

Canadians see Economic Imperative to Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion

Canadians believe that the pipeline expansion is critical to the Canadian economy and job creation:
• Six in ten (58%) agree that pipeline expansion is necessary to the economic future of Canada, while 26% disagree that it is, and 16% are undecided.
• Six in ten (59%) also agree that pipeline expansion is necessary to the economic future of Alberta, including 84% of Albertans who agree. Two in ten (22%) Canadians disagree, and 19% don’t know.
• Six in ten (60%) agree that pipeline expansion is necessary to create jobs in Western Canada, including 84% of Albertans, 62% of those living in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 56% of British Columbians who agree. Just one in four (24%) Canadians disagree with this premise, while 16% don’t know.
• A majority (54%) agrees that pipeline expansion is necessary to show the world that Canada is serious about exporting its goods, while 30% disagree and 16% don’t know.
• Only two in ten (16%) agree that they’re prepared to pay 50% more for gasoline if it means the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion doesn’t go through. A strong majority (71%) disagree, while 13% don’t know.

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 24 and 30, 2018, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,907 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources. Oversamples were conducted in BC (n= 526) and Alberta (n=601). Quota sampling and weighting were 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 – including weighting down BC and Alberta to be in proportion to their population within Canada. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population, including in Alberta (+/- 4.6), and BC (+/- 4.9). 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, PhD
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.
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About Ipsos

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The author(s)

  • Darrell Bricker Global CEO, Public Affairs, Ipsos

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