Surprise! Canadians divided on pipeline protests

Let’s check in with Angus, shall we?

Angus Reid is our friend with a finger on the pulse of the nation, and likes to report on a weekly basis on what Canadians are thinking.

Of course, occupying everyone’s minds in recent days is the standoff between Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs and pro-pipeline folks.

The protests are hitting every corner of the nation, from major rail routes to the Bank of Montreal branch in Nelson.

Angus has surveyed the people and reports that, surprise, we are a country divided on whether to support the pipeline or the protesters.

Two-in-five Canadians (39 per cent) say they support the Wet’suwet’en solidarity protesters. A majority, 51 per cent, say that they support the Coastal Gaslink project itself. And 48 per cent of Canadians either moderately or strongly oppose the protests.

Supporters of the protesters tend to come from British Columbia and Quebec. But the slight majority of 51 per cent supporting the pipeline comes from every region except Quebec.

And despite the split in opinions on support, there is almost unanimous consent that, eventually, the pipeline will be built. Protests may slow it down and drive costs up, people believe, but it will be built.

That being said, Angus Reid also reports that the 73 per cent of British Columbians are following the saga closely. 53 per cent of Albertans are keeping a close eye on it. Those numbers drop into the 40 and 30 per cent range for the rest of the country. Interestingly, while protester support is coming from Quebec, only 31 per cent of people in that province say they are following it closely.

In British Columbia, while we are watching it closely, we are also closely divided. 46 per cent support the protesters, 49 per cent oppose their actions.

Gender appears to play the biggest factor across the country, with women supporting the protests more than men.

Fully half of younger women oppose the project (51 per cent), while support rises with age. Men 55 years of age and older are most likely to support the pipeline project – seven-in-ten (72 per cent) do, says angusreid.org

You can also find distinct differences in support in terms of how people voted. In no surprise at all, those who voted NDP support the protesters at 68 per cent. Liberal voters are more evenly split, but still 45 per cent support the protesters. Those who voted for the Conservative Party of Canada have minimal sympathy for the protesters. Only 15 per cent of CPC voters support their cause.

But being Canadian, two-thirds of us believe there should be more discussion with the hereditary chiefs heading to resolution. Only 25 per cent oppose that.

Most Canadians say they anticipate this pipeline project being completed, however long that takes. One-in-three are confident it will move forward (34 per cent) while the majority say it will “probably” happen, even if these protests slow it down. Just one-in-ten Canadians (9 per cent) feel the project will be blocked and never built.

So there you have it, a completely normal, Canadian opinion on a difficult issue: divided. Divided by region, by gender, by political leanings.

Just another day in Canada.

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