Nearly half of Canadians say they support renewed efforts between the U.S. and Canada to build the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a new Angus Reid Institute poll.
The online survey, published Thursday, randomly polled 1,515 Canadian adults from Feb. 16-22. The results come during CERAWeek, North America’s largest energy conference, that Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are attending this week in Houston, Texas.
While 48 per cent of respondents across the country said they support the Keystone XL revival, 33 per cent said they oppose it, and one fifth were unsure. Support grew to 77 per cent in Alberta and dropped 36 per cent in Quebec.
Young Canadians were more likely to oppose the project, women were split, while men and older Canadians were dramatically more supportive of Keystone XL, according to the survey.
“There’s a couple of factors at play here – level of support and level of opposition,” Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute told BNN in an interview. “It really comes down to ‘how affected am I by an issue?’”
“People don’t always have strong opinion on issues that don’t have a definite impact on them,” Kurl added, speaking on those who were unsure of where they stand on Keystone XL.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order during his first week in office, giving the green light to Keystone XL, which would transport more than 800,000 barrels per day of heavy crude to the Gulf Coast from Alberta. Former U.S. President Barack Obama struck down the proposal in November 2015 over environmental concerns.
Past Angus Reid pipeline polls have found Canadians’ support for projects like TransMountain and Northern Gateway were lower, closer to 40 per cent.
Kurl said that with Keystone XL, “the temperature has really come down politically.” The fact the project is supported by both the Liberal federal government and Alberta’s NDP government factor into the greater project support, he said.
However, south of the border, support for the project has declined over the last five years, a recent Pew Research Centre poll found. The survey revealed Americans are currently split with just under half of respondents saying they support Keystone XL, while two thirds supported it in 2013.
“You could suggest that politics has had a lot to do with what’s been going on with Keystone XL in U.S.,” Kurl said. “The [presidential] election brought it into focus.”