Monday, April 14, 2014

Kitimat Enbrdige Vote - the large No vote and a high turnout makes supporting Enbridge politically toxic.

Kitimat had a plebiscite on the Enbrdige pipeline on Saturday and the No to the pipeline side won a big victory, 58.4% to 41.6%.  A no vote in the community in BC that would benefit the most from the pipeline is stunning.  The legitimacy of the vote is further enhanced because of the high voter turnout.   

Kitimat has no jurisdiction as such over the pipeline so the vote the does not formally change anything.    With that in mind, the results were interesting

Here is the question asked:
Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway project be approved, subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP's final report?
Yes    1,278 41.6%
No     1,793 58.4%
total  3,071
Turnout 62%

The turnout is impressive.   Compare to the 2011 municipal elections when 2,426 people voted, this is a significant increase in voters.   A total of 761 new people registered to vote in the plebiscite.   That is a a 18% increase in voters.   In 2011 the new registrations were only 5% of the eligible voters. 

Pipelines offer very few ongoing jobs so the biggest benefit to BC communities from Enbridge would be in the form of property taxes.   The one community that would have any measurable increase in jobs would be Kitimat because they would be home to the terminal.   The oil shipment terminal and work related to ship movements will provide more jobs than the pipeline but still Kitimat voted no.

The last 20 years have been an ongoing hard time for rural resource towns in BC.   In a lot of these towns there is an attitude of anything goes as long as it bring jobs among large sections of the opinion leaders.   The fact that there was such a strong no vote is shocking.

The vote could be dismissed if no one voted, but the turnout was high.   Not only high, but higher than the last municipal elections.

Kitimat may not have jurisdiction over the pipeline decision, but the vote is a very important political signal.   If the pipeline can not be sold in Kitimat it is a political loser for any party that backs Enbridge.    Realistically the BC NDP and BC Liberals will not lift a finger for this pipeline.

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