Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with reporters as he makes his way to caucus in West block, Wednesday February 26, 2020 in Ottawa. A new poll suggests Canadians weren’t happy with Justin Trudeau’s handling of the natural-gas pipeline dispute in British Columbia that led to nationwide rail and road blockades mounted in solidarity with Indigenous leaders who oppose the project.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with reporters as he makes his way to caucus in West block, Wednesday February 26, 2020 in Ottawa. A new poll suggests Canadians weren’t happy with Justin Trudeau’s handling of the natural-gas pipeline dispute in British Columbia that led to nationwide rail and road blockades mounted in solidarity with Indigenous leaders who oppose the project.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Majority of Canadians unhappy with Trudeau’s handling of blockade crisis: poll

Leger executive vice-president says this represents a major shift in public support for Indigenous rights

A new poll suggests Canadians weren’t happy with Justin Trudeau’s handling of the natural-gas pipeline dispute in British Columbia that led to nationwide rail and road blockades mounted in solidarity with Indigenous leaders who oppose the project.

According to the Leger Marketing survey, 61 per cent of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the way the prime minister has handled the blockade file.

The numbers also suggest most Canadians blame the federal government for the crisis that erupted after Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs were arrested in B.C. while trying to block the Coastal GasLink pipeline project in early February — even though the project was approved by the province.

A majority of respondents — 57 per cent — said they believe Indigenous land claims are valid and there was overwhelming support for the federal government to actively resolve them and to consult with Indigenous groups on development projects.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque says this represents a major shift in public support for Indigenous rights issues compared to previous decades.

But when it comes to whether Indigenous Peoples should have a veto on major developments on their lands, the Leger survey suggests opinion is more divided, with 42 per cent of respondents saying Yes while 41 per cent said No.

“I think Canadians have moved forward in aiming for reconciliation, but probably not to the degree that Indigenous leaders would like,” Bourque said.

“When (respondents) say they’re dissatisfied with the prime minister’s handling of the whole rail blockade issue, some of them would want to actually move faster and get the blockade out of the way quicker, but a lot of it is basically people saying, ‘Wait a minute here, maybe we did something wrong leading into this.’”

Regional results suggest respondents from oil-and gas-producing provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan registered higher levels of dissatisfaction, while those on the East Coast, Ontario and Quebec were more measured in their response, Bourque noted.

When asked whether the Coastal GasLink pipeline should be stopped permanently or paused temporarily to negotiate further with Indigenous leaders, respondents appeared divided, with a tie of 37 per cent favouring each option.

However, taking Prairie provinces out of the mix suggests a majority of Canadians elsewhere would support a more measured, negotiated approach, Bourque said.

The numbers also suggest those who identified as Conservative voters were less favourable toward Indigenous land claims, he said, noting that the majority of Conservative supporters are in the oil and gas producing provinces.

“That sort of creates a spiral around this issue,” Bourque said.

“It has a potential to be divisive: on the one hand, if you’re the Liberal government, if you don’t go far enough in terms of aiming towards reconciliation, then you might alienate Green party supporters, NDP supporters out there and potentially some Bloc supporters as well. But if you go too heavy-handed into this to try and appease Conservative supporters, then you’re losing your left-of-centre support that you desperately need.”

It may not be all bad news for Trudeau’s minority government, however.

The Liberal party’s overall polling numbers have remained relatively stable, in the mid-30-per-cent range since the October federal election, dropping just two percentage points to 32 per cent since the last Leger survey was conducted in early February.

Bourque said he believes this means even though the public may be unhappy with how Trudeau has handled the B.C. pipeline and blockade issue, overall the issue is only cementing the partisan lines that already exist.

“Responses to the other questions are telling us (the Liberals) adopted the best strategy, which was to take (their) time and try to aim for a peaceful resolution and a getting back to the negotiating table,” Bourque said.

“But it also looks, from a partisan and political perspective, it’s becoming tougher and tougher for the Liberal party in Western Canada.”

The online survey of 1,540 Canadians was conducted Feb. 28 to March 2 for The Canadian Press and cannot be assigned a margin of error because Internet-based polls are not random samples.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipelinerailway

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

The Golden Nordic Club is working towards a COVID-safe winter ski season opening. (File photo)
Golden Nordic Ski Club working towards opening

While Dawn Mountain is provincially run and open, the chalet and Nordic Club are not as of yet

The Interact Club meets in 2019 for their annual Anti-Grinch project. This year, the club members will add the Angel Tree to their list of Christmas charitable causes. (Contributed)
Interact Club takes on Angel Tree

With changes to this year’s Anti-Grinch project, there is increased capacity for the Angel Tree

santa.
Morning Start: Santa Claus has an official pilot’s license

Your morning start for Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

An Enderby restaurant and pub was shut down Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
North Okanagan pub reopens after COVID-19 scare

After a guest reportedly tested positive for the virus, staff test results came back negative

Alix Longland
Trauma resources ready for North Okanagan refugees

Family Resource Centre working with UBCO social work grad to reach out to local refugees

Elkhart Gas Station, located on Highway 97C about 60 kilometres west of Peachland, opened in November 2020. (Google maps)
The Okanagan Connector now has a gas station

The highway previously ran for over 117 kilometres without a place to fuel up

The Hughes’ Grinch was stolen from their front yard Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2020. The Santa suit the Grinch is wearing is 50 years old and has sentimental value. It was once worn by April Hughes’ dad. (Hughes photo)
Grinch stolen from Penticton home is ‘irreplaceable’

The Hughes have had a Christmas display for 25 years on Grandy Avenue in Penticton

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters spoke at Greenwood’s city council meeting Monday, Nov. 23. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
B.C. Mountie builds fire to warm suspect with hypothermia prior to rescue

Cpl. Phil Peters said the civilian helped police track, apprehend and eventually rescue the suspect

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Revelstoke COVID-19 cluster linked to non-essential travel: Horgan

There have been 46 cases of COVID-19 in the community

Students at Lavington Elementary crammed a car full of non-perishables for those in the community facing food insecurity. Spearheaded by teacher January Peebles (left), the donations were picked up by Give LUCK founder Myrika Godard, who works to connect donors with donees in the North Okanagan. (Give LUCK photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Most Read