A new study from the Angus Reid Institute shows that the majority of Canadians view marine shipping as “generally safe” at the very least.
The study, which was conducted online between October 19 and 29 among a sample of 2,250 Canadian adults, was published just months after the Federal Court of Appeal decided to indefinitely suspend the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project.
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The decision as made in part due to the National Energy Board failing to properly assess the environmental impact that an increase in oil tanker traffic could have on the southern coast of British Columbia.
National Resource Minister Amarjeet Sohi addressed the issue less than a month after the Court’s decision, making a statement on September 21 detailing the federal government’s plan moving forward.
“The board should have considered the impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on species at risk like the southern resident killer whale,” Sohi said in the announcement.
He stated that the review process had been inherently flawed thanks to Stephen Harper’s previous government, and that the current government would be working to improve the NEB review — in part by appointing a special marine technical advisor to the board.
“We have instructed the Nation Energy Board to reconsider its recommendation taking into account the potential effects of marine shipping related to the project,” he said, stating that the new review is expected to take 22 weeks to complete.
On December 6, the Angus Reid Institute released a study titled “Canadians view marine shipping as increasingly important amid trade and pipeline debates,” which took a look at how Canadians see the risks and rewards of transporting goods — including oil — by sea.
The study found that respondents generally felt safe when it came to marine shipping, with a collective 94% stating that they considered it to be either “very safe” or “generally safe.”
The importance of the shipping industry was also put on display in respondents’ answers, with just over 4/5ths (83%) seeing it as “critically important” or “very important.”
Even with most respondents viewing the method of trade as safe, the threat of oil spills was first on the majority’s minds when asked about potential risks.
In the study, 54% of respondents had the potential of an oil spill come to mind when asked about risks, closely followed by fuel spills (51%), the endangerment of marine life (46%), and water pollution (45%) taking the top spots.
Breaking the data up by province shows a somewhat unsurprising result, with the neighbouring provinces of British Columbia and Alberta being on completely opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to marine shipping safety.
BC was the most opposed to the idea of increasing oil tanker traffic around the south coast of BC (57% opposed), while three-quarters of Albertan respondents were all for it.
Turning the tables found a somewhat reversed result, with Alberta being the most against prohibiting crude oil shipments along the north coast of BC, though BC actually came in as the sentiment’s second-most opposer. Quebec appeared to be the most for the prohibition, followed closely by the Atlantic provinces, Ontario, and Saskatchewan/Manitoba, who were grouped together for the study.
One thing that all the provinces — with the exception of Alberta — appeared to agree on was that the government was not giving enough attention to the terms of oversight and enforcement of marine shipping safety.
45% of respondents states as such, outweighing the 30% who thought otherwise.
Alberta was the only province where respondents who agreed that there had been an appropriate amount of attention from government outnumbered those who believed there had not.