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Support rises for controversial Canada pipeline

Demonstrators use a mock oil pipeline to block the entrance to the Canadian Embassy in central London as they protest against the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion
AFP

Ottawa (AFP) – Support in Canada for a pipeline expansion to move oil to the Pacific coast for shipping to new markets overseas is rising, polling showed Wednesday as protests against it followed the prime minister to Britain.

Across Canada backing for the proposed tripling of the Trans Mountain pipeline’s capacity rose to 55 percent, according to the Angus Reid Institute survey, up from 49 percent in February.

British Columbia and neighboring Alberta have been at loggerheads for weeks over the project, which would allow the pipeline to transport 890,000 barrels of oil per day from landlocked Alberta to the western coast.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to break the standoff despite interrupting a trip to Britain, France and Peru on Sunday for an emergency meeting in Ottawa to try to mediate the spat.

In the past month alone nearly 200 protestors concerned about a possible oil spill along Canada’s Pacific coast have been arrested in British Columbia. 

On Wednesday, Trudeau was greeted by more protests outside Canada’s high commission during his visit to London.

His Liberal government approved in 2016 the Can$7.4 billion (US$5.9 billion) expansion project, which he said is “in the national interest.”

But British Columbia’s new social democratic government recently joined environmental activists’ fight against the project, provoking an Alberta boycott of its wines and threats to devastate the British Columbia economy by curbing Alberta oil and gas supplies to the westernmost province.

The feud reached a boiling point last week when Kinder Morgan suspended most work on the pipeline amid the intense political uncertainty, and said it would drop the project if the parties fail to resolve their differences by May 31.

Approximately two in three Canadians say it is wrong for British Columbia to try to block the pipeline, agreeing with Trudeau that the province is acting outside its jurisdiction. 

In British Columbia, which vowed to seek an injunction if Alberta throttles its fuel supplies, support for the pipeline has also increased in the past two months from 48 percent to 54 percent.

“More Canadians appear to be losing patience with the B.C. government’s delay tactics,” the pollster concluded.

The survey of 2,125 Canadians was conducted on April 16-17 and has a three percent margin of error.

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