NATIONAL PULSE – Except in Alberta, Canadians accept Keystone XL decision


January 26, 2021 – U.S. President Joe Biden’s early executive order to scrap Keystone XL, an eight-billion-dollar pipeline project to move oil from Alberta to Nebraska, represents an early test for Canada-U.S. relations, and an even more critical test domestically.

The decision has once again plunged Alberta into crisis mode economically. The province has already invested roughly $1.5 billion in the project, plus $6 billion in loan guarantees, leading Premier Jason Kenney to apply maximum pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fight to revive the on-again off-again proposed pipeline.

Trudeau, however, must balance support for Alberta against public sentiment – deeply divided along regional lines – while also considering competing issues that also require attention and resolution from the United States.

Against this backdrop, new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute shows Canadians fully comprehend the blow this decision represents to Albertans. As Keystone joins the Northern Gateway, Teck Frontier Mine, and many others in a long line of cancelled or defunct energy operations, two-thirds (65%) of Canadians say Biden’s decision is a “bad thing” for the province.

But what should happen next? This question reveals profound regional divides, with majorities in Alberta and Saskatchewan saying if it were up to them, they would press the Biden administration to reverse course. Majorities in BC, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, however, are of the view that it is time to accept the decision and focus instead on other Canada-U.S. priorities.

More Key Findings:

  • Overall, 59 per cent of Canadians say it’s time to move on from Keystone XL, an opinion driven by respondents in the country’s most populous provinces, especially Quebec
  • While majorities across the political spectrum acknowledge the economic damage that the Keystone XL cancellation may cause to Alberta, this sentiment is lowest among past NDP voters (52%) and highest among past CPC voters (87%), a concentration of whom are from Alberta
  • The Keystone XL issue is viewed through a different lens across the country. Overall, 51 per cent say this is about the economy and jobs – a view held by a majority of those in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada. For 49 per cent, including at least half in B.C., Ontario and Quebec, the project is about environmental concerns and climate change

Link to the poll here:

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2 Comments on NATIONAL PULSE – Except in Alberta, Canadians accept Keystone XL decision

  1. I find it hard to believe that only 40% of BCr’s agree to ‘press Biden to reconsider Keystone above other priorities’ … but then I see that other graphs at the Angus link tell a different story.

    – 51% of BC respondents think the cancellation is ‘a bad thing’ for Canada, and
    – 52% of Canadians think its a bad thing for Canada.

    That made me read and understand the questions more carefully to see that there is a problem with the question, and it shows with the disparity between these answers. The way they are phrased shift the focus, and force people to think differently.

    Many of the questions focus specifically on ‘… above other priorities’, which corners respondents to think about Keystone above all other possible or potential conversations with the US. People will literally read that as ‘other issues dont matter and only this one does’.

    Since when does the real world work like that?

    From Fighter jet purchases, to softwood, dairy, car parts, aluminium/steel, NAFTA, border security, Great Lake water use, Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic, the environment and jobs … and a massive list of other discussions that can and do run concurrently … the Angus poll forces people to negate all the other issues that may be important to them and requires them to pin their answer solely on Keystone … as if doing so will forsake all else.

    Thats not how bilateral relations work. Governments will work on dozens of issues at once, there are departments involved on both sides under their own portfolios and responsibilities. None of this is tossed aside because of one question.

    You tell people to forget about the issues that matter to them in their own life, and they just simply will refuse to, therefore these numbers are clouded by misdirection.

    If these questions were rephrased, instead of
    ‘press for authorisation of Keystone XL above other Canada-US priorities’
    was more like
    ‘press for authorisation of Keystone XL’
    … these numbers would have been quite different.

    Also it would have been more precise if a question included timelines; ‘The next time Trudeau and Biden talk, should Keystone be item number one?’ That also would have shown a pretty severe difference across the country to the results we have here, the nuance of bilateral discussions would be recognised and people wouldnt feel as if their issue will be ignored if they answer accordingly.

    Sometimes polls tell a broken story.

  2. Bev Campbell // January 26, 2021 at 10:59 AM // Reply

    I would be willing to bet that there are many disgruntled Americans as well, don’t forget that there are pipeline workers there as well, now unemployed. My biggest “think” goes to the fact that Alberta can now renegotiate any sort of payments that they have been making to balance the economies of other provinces, my understanding is that they have always had to pay major sums to eastern provinces, including PQ, that should immediately be halted.

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