A majority of Canadians surveyed recently by Nanos Research say that blockades of rail lines are not acceptable or are somewhat not acceptable as a way to express support for Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to a $6.6-billion natural gas pipeline through traditional territory.
In a poll commissioned for The Globe and Mail and CTV News, the polling firm reported that 57 per cent of those surveyed found that blockades of rail lines and highways is not acceptable while 16 per cent found it to be somewhat not acceptable.
The natural gas pipeline project by Coastal GasLink was at the heart of blockades and demonstrations across Canada in recent weeks. The project has received support from elected band councils but is opposed by eight of nine hereditary house chiefs who are concerned about the pipeline crossing traditional territory.
Nanos Research said 11 per cent surveyed found blockades to be acceptable and 13 per cent found them to be somewhat acceptable. Another 2 per cent said they were not sure.
Nanos conducted the survey through land and cellphone lines and an online random survey of 1,008 Canadians, 18 years or older, between Feb. 29 and March 3.
The firm said participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and then were administered a survey online. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist and founder of Nanos Research, said Sunday in an interview that the survey also found Canadians are much more pessimistic about the potential for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the federal Liberal government’s approach to advancing the issue.
“For the Liberals, they should take what has happened in terms of the blockades as a wakeup call,” Mr. Nanos said.
Twenty elected band councils along the pipeline route have signed benefit agreements to work with the company but the conflict shone a light on issues including how governments oversee resource development.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is very important the Wet’suwet’en Nation has an opportunity to internally discuss a proposed agreement on rights and title reached with the federal and B.C. governments as a result of meetings in Smithers, B.C.
Mr. Trudeau said the federal government will respect the desire of the Wet’suwet’en to work on the agreement amongst themselves first.
The discussions in Smithers did not resolve outstanding concerns about the pipeline. B.C. Premier John Horgan has said permits are in place for the project and work is underway.