Northern Gateway pipeline: Feds aren’t only ones unsure about approval

TORONTO – In the hours after the Conservative government announced it would conditionally approve the Northern Gateway proposal, Canadians’ opinions were splitalmost equally into thirds – but most said the oil pipeline would be built regardless of public opinion.

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And the poll comes after a spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford told Global News the government’s stance is just a “maybe,” rather than an approval.

READ MORE: Northern Gateway a ‘maybe,’ Conservative spokesman says

The Angus Reid Global (ARG) poll showed 37 per cent of people surveyed think the government’s decision to allow the pipeline to be built through Alberta and B.C. after meeting 209 conditions is right. Almost the same number, at 34 per cent, said the decision is wrong. But nearly one-third, at 29 per cent, said they aren’t sure.

Forty-three per cent said the 209 conditions are enough to address concerns about the pipeline, but 37 per cent disagree. Another 20 per cent aren’t sure.

The majority of Canadians polled, at 58 per cent, said environmental protection should take top priority in shaping Canada’s energy policy; 42 per cent said it should be economic growth.

But the biggest agreement came regardless of views on approval: 68 per cent of respondents said they believe it will eventually be built.

Support depends where you live

As past polls have suggested, disdain for the pipeline is much higher in B.C. than oil producer-heavy Alberta: 40 per cent of British Columbians polled said the decision to go ahead was wrong (40 per cent of Quebecers responded the same), while only 18 per cent of Albertans shared that view.

Meanwhile, the highest level of support came from Alberta, where 58 per cent of respondents said approval is the right decision. But the split opinion is also seen within B.C.: A surprisingly high 38 per cent of British Columbians said the approval was the right decision.

In the rest of Canada, highest opposition after B.C. and Quebec was Ontario at 35 per cent. Saskatchewans and Manitobans replied more similarly to Albertans, with 44 per cent supporting the feds’ approval.

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