In the same week the federal government announced it intends to chop the review of Enbridge’s pipeline and supertanker proposal, new polling showed opposition to oil supertankers in B.C.’s inside coastal waters outweighs support 3:1.

Overall, two-thirds (66 per cent) of B.C. residents oppose plans to transport crude oil from Alberta through B.C.’s inside coastal waters. One-half (50 per cent) strongly oppose this plan, indicating it will be a key voting issue in the 2013 B.C. provincial election. One in five (22 per cent) support allowing oil supertankers in the inside coastal waters, including 11 per cent who strongly support.

The survey was conducted by Justason Market Intelligence on behalf of Dogwood Initiative, Forest Ethics, Living Oceans Society and West Coast Environmental Law.

The results indicate the more British Columbians know about Enbridge’s pipeline and supertanker proposal, the more likely they are to oppose it. In Northwest B.C., nearly all residents were aware of the Enbridge proposal (94 per cent), compared to 78 per cent province-wide, and seven in ten (69 per cent) oppose, including 64 per cent who strongly oppose.

Respondents were asked: Up until now, crude oil supertankers have not entered B.C.’s inside passage because of concerns about oil spills. Ottawa is now considering allowing crude oil supertankers to transport crude oil through these waters. Do you support or oppose allowing crude oil supertankers through B.C.’s inside coastal waters?

Opposition to oil tankers in B.C.’s inside coastal waters surpasses support across all political affiliations and in all areas of the province. This might explain why the federal Conservatives have fallen a staggering 16 points in popularity in B.C. in the past year, while they’ve ramped up their push for oil tankers on our coast. It is also an insight into the B.C. Liberals’ plunge in support at a time when they refuse to take a position on the Enbridge proposal.

The Justason results contrast sharply with polling commissioned by Enbridge, which uses a project description that doesn’t mention supertankers or the Great Bear Rainforest.

A question on the Justason survey shed some light on how British Columbians feel about the Great Bear Rainforest. A strong majority (82 per cent) agreed that protecting the Great Bear Rainforest is like protecting the Amazon or the Great Barrier Reef. Six in ten British Columbians strongly agree. It’s no wonder Enbridge doesn’t want to mention the area its proposal would put at risk.

The truth is that when British Columbians are provided with key information on the geographic location of the project and the fact the proposal would lead to oil supertankers travelling through the the Great Bear Rainforest for the first time, they are strongly opposed to the Enbridge proposal.

For now, the battle of the polls will continue, but the longer this debate drags on, the more British Columbians who are going to realize Enbridge’s pipelines mean oil supertankers – and the more they’re not going to like it.

If the federal government decides to shut down the public hearings, the opposition to Enbridge will only strengthen and the calls on the provincial government to stand up for our coast will grow louder by the day.

Justason Market Intelligence surveyed 611 adult British Columbians between Feb. 24 and March 7, 2012. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.


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