The Enbridge ad backfires. Image from sumofus.org and leadnow.ca.

A poll released yesterday shows that British Columbians are overwhelmingly against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline with 60 per cent saying they are opposed to the project, an increase of eight per cent since April.

The poll, conducted by Forum Research, was commissioned by the Gitga’at First Nation to assess the impact of Enbridge's now infamous ad campaign, in which they showed a map of the proposed oil tanker route through the Douglas Channel to demonstrate the safety of the route. Mysteriously absent from the map were the 1,000 square kilometres of islands that make the channel notoriously treacherous to navigate.

Of the 40 per cent of respondents who were aware of the map, 64 per cent found it to be misleading and 58 per cent said it has made their opinion of the project worse. 25 per cent didn't feel misled and only 9 per cent said it improved their opinion of the project. 

Of those (86 per cent) who had seen any advertising for the project in general, 37 per cent reported that it had worsened their opinion and 14 per cent said that it improved in their opinion.

Global BC interviewed Brian Falconer of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, who explained additional ways in which Enbridge is manipulating information, including weather and shipping traffic statistics to "paint a more favourable picture of the oil pipeline and tanker port."

The Gitga’at First Nation [map] source 40 per cent of their traditional diet from the ocean and are concerned about the potential threat to their food supply, the emerging eco-tourism industry and the eco-system of the Great Bear Rainforest as a whole. 

“We don’t have the resources to fight Enbridge’s multi-million dollar advertising campaigns,” said Cam Hill, Gitga’at Councillor, in a press release yesterday. “What we do have is the truth, and the truth is that a single oil spill in BC’s coastal waters could wipeout the traditional foods that feed our people. We live in one of the most beautiful and pristine places on earth, sharing our home with Spirit Bears, humpback whales and wild salmon. Why would we put that at risk? We don’t want dead water.”  

BC Premiere Christy Clark has said that a pipeline across the province will only be constructed if it has the support of British Columbians. Yesterday's poll shows that what little support does exist is decreasing. Ontarians just won a huge environmental victory when Highland Companies withdrew its application for the Melancthon mega quarry due to a lack of local support (read: massive opposition). Enbridge is probably unlikely to follow suit itself, but the strong opposition to the pipeline by affected First Nations communities and British Columbians in general might still have a chance at stopping the project if Clark keeps that promise.

 

Stunning Great Bear Rainforest photography by Thomas Peschak shows what's at stake if the Northern Gateway pipeline goes through.

Northern Gateway isn't the only pipeline raising concerns and facing opposition these days. Here are a few others – and please add more in the comments!

  • The Wet’suwet’en Peoples are trying to keep the Pacific Trails Pipeline out of their unceded territory at the Unis’tot’en camp.
  • Environmental Defence is among a number of groups opposing the Enbridge Line 9 pipeline reversal in Ontario.
  • American groups such as the Natural Resources Defence Council are fighting the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline. A landowner in Texas got a restraining order against TransCanada issued yesterday and is charging the company with fraud for claiming the pipeline will transport crude oil rather than diluted bitumen.

Laura McDonald is A\J's Interim Web Editor and Associate Manager of Publicity and Special Projects.

Laura is a past A\J managing editor. She has an MA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, is an organizing aficionado, lackadaisical gardener, and former musical theatre producer. @inhabitings

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