But if they'd asked about tankers or oil spills...
The seventh and final question was the poll’s only question about the environment. Respondents were asked to rank their first and second choices of concern about a number of possible environmental effects spelled out in the question. Risk of a pipeline spill and of a tanker spill were the top concerns of the respondents.
The B.C Chamber of Commerce is on record as supporting the Enbridge pipeline proposal. The company it hired to conduct the poll, Maple Leaf Solutions, was the pollster for the Liberal party in the last provincial election. A tagline on its website reads: “We Shape Outcomes.”
Maple Leaf Solutions’ poll of 1050 British Columbians was done by telephone. The company did not publish a breakdown of its results by age, gender, or geographic location. It is therefore unknown to the public what proportion of their respondents were, for example, from the north or in a specific age range.
There have been many polls about Northern Gateway over the past two years. Because different companies using different questions and methods have conducted them, their results cannot be meaningfully compared and trends in public opinion can’t be deduced from them.
But there is one possible exception.
Insights West published two polls, one in February and one in November of this year. The polls used identical questions and methods. Details of the November poll can be viewed here and a comparison of the two here.
The initial question (again containing the word ‘pipeline’ but not ‘tanker’) was as follows:
Given what you know about the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, do you support or oppose the project?
In other words, among the 749 people polled, support increased from 35% to 42% during the year, and opposition went down from 61% to 47%.
The ratio of age, gender, and geographical location of the 749 people polled, according to Mario Conseco of Insights West, is consistent with the most recent census figures for B.C.
There are two more questions in the Insights West poll. One asks respondents for their level of agreement about a list of possible benefits of the project, and the other asks about a list of risks. These were asked and presented with no clear emphasis on either the environment or the economy.
Insights West says the company conducted the poll on its own, because of its interest in the issue, not hired by any company or client.