OTTAWA - A new poll suggests a broad cross-section of Canadians see the oil and gas sector as vitally important to the national economy, an attitude that in turn appears to be driving up support for pipeline construction.
Almost nine out of 10 respondents to the Harris-Decima poll, 87 per cent, said they believe oil and gas development is economically important, while a clear majority -- 53 per cent -- ranked the sector as the most important in Canada.
The telephone poll of just over 1,000 respondents also found a majority of respondents in favour of the proposed west-to-east pipeline from Alberta to Atlantic Canada, as well as the Northern Gateway pipeline to the B.C. coast.
A slim plurality of respondents, meanwhile, said they oppose the Keystone XL pipeline to the southern United States.
The poll lands amid rancorous debates over the three high-profile pipeline proposals that have generated loud public opposition, including major protests and demonstrations south of the border.
Against such environmental criticism, the federal Conservative government has budgeted $25 million over the last two years to advertise the importance and environmental responsibility of Canada's resource sector, and talk of pipeline politics has dominated the governing agenda.