VICTORIA, B.C. – A recent phone survey indicates support for an oil tanker ban on B.C.’s north coast is higher than 75 per cent in five key federal ridings.

The survey was conducted in the ridings of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, Vancouver South, North Vancouver, Vancouver Quadra and Vancouver Island North on March 24 by the Dogwood Initiative. Of 710 respondents, 75 per cent indicated they want oil supertankers banned from B.C.’s north coast.

“This confirms British Columbians are strongly opposed to oil tankers on our north coast,” said Eric Swanson, No Tankers Director for the Dogwood Initiative. “With the Liberal, NDP and Green parties all committed to banning oil tankers, the Conservatives stand out as the only party on the wrong side of public opinion on this issue during the federal election.”

The oil tanker issue was cast into the election spotlight on Thursday when the CEO of Enbridge gave a speech pressing Canada’s political leaders to support his Northern Gateway project to Kitimat, which would effectively be killed by a tanker ban. In conference calls with investors, Enbridge has claimed “strong support” from the Conservative government for its proposal.

Canada’s official lobbyist registry shows Enbridge lobbying Liberal MPs, senators and senior policy staff during the past two months. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has already committed to banning oil supertankers on B.C.’s north coast. 

“What I’ve noticed on this issue is that B.C.’s Conservative candidates tend to deflect responsibility to the federal regulatory process,” said Swanson. “But the last thing we need is more dithering in a process that doesn’t even include a British Columbian on the panel. The simple fact is that despite all precaution, a major oil spill could happen on our coast. So the decision is political: do we accept the risk of catastrophe or not?”

The most recent scientific polling on oil tankers was conducted by Mustel in the summer of 2010. That poll showed 80 per cent of British Columbians were opposed to oil tankers on the north coast.

  “Voters are in the process of examining the political parties to see who lines up with their core values,” Swanson said. “A lot of people in B.C. treasure our coast and everything it provides. Our phone survey suggests there’s potential for votes to move to candidates who will ban oil tankers to protect our coast.”

Additional results

Recipients were asked if they supported an oil tanker ban, and if they indicated yes they were then asked a voter identification question.

  • In the riding of Esquimalt Juan de Fuca 53% of tanker ban supporters identified as NDP voters, compared with 13% identified as Liberal.