By ANGUS REID INSTITUTE
February 13, 2020 – Disruptions, blockades and protests in cities across the country may have amplified the message of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to a $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline being built by Coastal Gaslink in their traditional territory in northern British Columbia, but how are they being received by the Canadian public?
From coast to coast railway access has been blocked and streets shut down affecting thousands of travellers and threatening to stop shipments of goods.
Now a new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a country divided along political, regional and economic lines as they choose sides over the protests, the project itself, and how the company might proceed from here.
Two-in-five Canadians (39%) say they support the Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters. These tend to be younger women, as well as those on the lower side of the income scale and those on the left of the political spectrum. Supporters of the protesters are also most likely to come from British Columbia and Quebec.
Meanwhile, a slight majority, 51 per cent, say that they support the Coastal Gaslink project itself. This includes majority support in every region of the country outside of Quebec. In each case, whether it’s the protesters or the pipeline, Canadians are divided into two sizeable groups on each side of the issue.
TC Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, has agreements in place with all of the elected First Nation band councils, including Wet’suwet’en councils, along the pipeline route. Eight Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, however, have not consented to use of their territory. Canadians are largely supportive of more discussions between the company and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
More Key Findings:
- Canadians are relatively confident that the Coastal Gaslink pipeline will be completed. Just over half (57%) say that it will take longer because of the protests, but will probably still be completed, while 34 per cent have full confidence that it will go ahead regardless.
- Awareness of the protests and the pipeline construction are high in British Columbia and Alberta, but drop to fewer than half of residents elsewhere in the country have been paying close attention.
Link to the poll here: www.angusreid.org/coastal-gaslink-wetsuweten