A Majority of British Columbians Oppose the Federal Government’s Decision to Buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project, But Now Believe it is More Likely to Get Built

Support for the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is holding steady (51%) relative to our last wave in April.

Vancouver, BC – Days before Kinder Morgan’s May 31st deadline—intended to create certainty for the company’s investment in the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion—the federal government announced Tuesday that it will spend $4.5 billion to purchase the project. A new Insights West poll has found that the majority of British Columbians (53%) are opposed to the federal government’s acquisition of the pipeline and only one third (33%) support the decision (the rest are undecided).

Insights West has polled sentiment towards the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline ten times over the past 5 years and, for the second consecutive time, the majority of British Columbians (51%) say they support the proposed project, while 39% oppose it. Though overall support has dropped slightly (from 55%), since the Insights West poll conducted in April 2018, the drop is not statistically significant, and the level of strong support (31%) remains significantly higher than the level of strong opposition (24%).

Men (63%), residents aged 55 and over (61%), and those who voted for the BC Liberals in last year’s provincial election (81%) are more likely to support the expansion, while women (46%), residents aged 18-34 and 35-54 (44% and 46%, respectively), and those who voted for the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) (57%) and BC Green Party (61%) are more likely to oppose it.

In the Metro Vancouver/Fraser Valley area, nearly half (47%, -5 since April) support the proposed expansion while 40% are opposed (+4). The gap between those who support the project and those who oppose it has also narrowed on Vancouver Island, where residents are now evenly split (47% support to 46% opposed). Opinions on the project seem to be more firmly entrenched in the rest of BC, where 61% of residents continue to support the project.

Our survey, which launched the day of the federal government’s announcement to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline assets, reveals that the majority of British Columbians (53%) oppose the Liberal government’s decision, including 36% who “strongly oppose” it.

Support for the government’s decision to spend $4.5 billion to buy the pipeline assets is 33% overall in BC and is highest among males (42%), those aged 55+ (38%), and those who voted for the BC Liberals on the last provincial ballot (53%).

Unfortunately for the federal Liberals, those in BC who voted for them in the 2015 federal election are largely opposed to their decision to buy the pipeline (49% opposed vs. 40% support). This is surprising given that the same Liberal voters are supportive of the pipeline being built overall (55% support vs. 39% opposed).

Even though opposition to the Federal government’s decision is strong in BC, the general public feels that this decision will result in a higher likelihood of the project moving forward. When asked if the pipeline is more or less likely to get built, given the government’s decision, 7-in-10 British Columbians (69%) say that the project is more likely to get built, including 36% who feel it is “much more likely”. Only 5% think that it is less likely, while 16% feel that this decision had no impact on the likelihood that it will get built.

“Support for the pipeline expansion has improved dramatically in the past several months in British Columbia—partly as the result of the public making the determination in their minds that high prices at the pump lately are caused by pipeline delays and uncertainty according to our last release,” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “However, despite overall support for the project, residents are opposed to the federal government’s decision to acquire the pipeline and its assets—including federal Liberal voters—leaving support for Trudeau waning as an outcome.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from May 29 to May 31, 2018, among a representative sample of 690 BC adults, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.7 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

The Angus Reid Forum is comprised of over 30,000 Canadians who share their opinions on a variety of political, economic, social and other issues while earning the opportunity to get paid and win great prizes. If you’re interested in joining, please register at angusreidforum.com.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West
778 379 1140
stevemossop@insightswest.com

 

Photograph: David Meurin / CC BY