Oil tankers and pipelines a voting issue in Chilliwack-Hope?

On Wednesday morning I received an email from Mike in Chilliwack: “I have always voted Liberal but am concerned enough about the environment to have my vote swayed.”

In the lead-up to election day yesterday we let our supporters in the riding of Chilliwack-Hope know where all the candidates stood on B.C. pipeline proposals and the oil tanker traffic expansion that would come with them. Mike was responding to an email we had sent out earlier that day. To be clear, Dogwood Initiative doesn’t endorse candidates as we are 100% non-partisan, but we certainly inform our supporters about where candidates stand on important issues such as oil tankers.

Louis, a listener from Chilliwack who works in the pipeline industry said he was firmly opposed to Kinder Morgan’s expansion.

We also hosted a telephone townhall in Cilliwack-Hope last Tuesday. I was reminded how diverse the opposition to the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan proposals is everywhere in B.C. by the kinds of questions and comments we received from speakers during the hour-long discussion.

4752 people opted into the townhall with guest panelists Rafe Mair, former ICBC CEO Robyn Allan, and Fraser Valley advocate John Vissers.

Louis, a listener from Chilliwack who works in the pipeline industry said he was firmly opposed to Kinder Morgan’s expansion. So did Steve from Hope, who works in the oil fields and Ed, who is three houses down from Kinder Morgan’s existing pipeline and a fly fisherman.

That opposition to oil tankers extends beyond greenies is not news to most people who live in B.C.

We’ve been doing polling for several years to quantify this political and cultural reality. Most recently, a poll by Justason Market Intelligence found that overall opposition to crude oil supertankers outstrips support 3:1 in B.C. New Democrats oppose the proposal in the highest numbers, but even among B.C. Liberal and B.C. Conservative voters, opposition to tankers exceeds support.

Opposition to oil tankers crosses the political spectrum. But is it a provincial voting issue?

We asked our telephone town hall listeners what they thought. Was oil pipelines and tankers a voting issue for them?
68% of responders said yes.

Who were they going to vote for?
Conservatives 16%
NDP 41%
Liberal 20%
Undecided 22%

Near the end of the telephone townhall we asked listeners if the discussion they’d participated in had changed who they were going to vote for?
35% said yes.

Mike’s formerly preferred BC Liberal candidate, taking the lead from Premier Christy Clark, held the party line during the by-election campaign by pointing to the federal environmental review process instead of confronting the issue of oil pipelines and tankers head-on.

I wonder how long the BC Liberal dodge is going to hold up, particularly with repeated announcements and fiery rhetoric from the federal government that undermine any crumb of credibility these processes have left.

Chilliwack-Hope’s BC Conservative candidate John Martin is probably right in regards to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion through the Fraser Valley: “I think we have a hell of a fight on our hands. Decidedly this is going to be an issue that dominates this riding for years and years to come. This is serious.”

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