Horgan sticks to his guns ahead of Ottawa's Trans Mountain decision
The Trudeau government is set to announce the fate of the Trans Mountain pipeline Tuesday – and a new poll suggests a majority of British Columbians won't mind if the controversial project goes forward.
The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted for Resource Works, an organization that promotes resource development. The survey of 803 British Columbians polled between June 10 and 14 showed 60 per cent approved of the project, while 29 per cent were opposed.
Drilling down into the numbers, 29 per cent of those questioned said they strongly approved of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, while 15 per cent said they were strongly opposed.
Speaking in Langford at an unrelated event, Premier John Horgan said he was aware of the numbers.
"I talk to people here who live on the Strait of Juan de Fuca," he told reporters. "They happen to be my constituents, they have a decidedly different view from Ipsos Reid but I’m not oblivious to that, this has been a challenging issue from the start."
Horgan added his job was to protect British Columbia’s interests and those who elected him to do such a thing. The NDP government has railed against the project for years, promising on the campaign trail in 2017 to "use every tool in the toolbox" to try and stop it. After forming government, Horgan’s messaging changed to doing what was needed to protect the coast and the province.
The pollster asked people: "Do you personally support or oppose the Trans mountain pipeline expansion project, which involves building a second pipeline on the existing route between Alberta and Metro Vancouver?" Sixty per cent of the 163 Vancouver Islanders who responded approved of the project. Notably, the strongest opposition also came from the same region.
Justin Trudeau’s cabinet set a date of June 18 to make a decision on the pipeline project. If approved, the pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from east of Edmonton to Metro Vancouver. Many of those who reject the project say it carries too many environmental risks, particularly if there is a spill on the coast.
After initially approving the project, the federal Court of Appeal told the Trudeau government to take another kick at the can. The ruling was that analysis of the impact of shipping on marine life, particularly endangered southern resident killer whales, was missing. So, too, was proper consultation with First Nations. Since then, the National Energy Board has gone back to conduct another analysis. Now the decision lies with Ottawa.
Most observers expect a positive decision.
"I think talking to sources in Ottawa, this is high level of confidence to say it will be approved tomorrow," said Stewart Muir of Resource Works.
Muir added he hoped several First Nations who had initially opposed the project would now be on board. He said the renewed consultation was a good thing.
"I think those who have tested and pushed and questioned because we have the system in place in Canada to do that have created a better project," Muir told CTV.
Ottawa has not released information around timing of the project.