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Trudeau won't get out of the Trans Mountain conflict unscathed: poll

Last Updated Apr 13, 2018 at 10:12 am PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters on his way into caucus on March 21, 2018 (Screengrab: Video by Cormac MacSweeney)

Pipeline is an unpopular choice in BC, which rewarded the federal Liberals with many seats in the last election

On Sunday, the prime minister will be returning to Ottawa from Peru in order to hold a meeting with the premiers of BC and Alberta to try to settle the dispute over the Trans Mountain pipeline.

But one pollster says no matter what happens, the Trudeau Liberals are going to take a hit.

“There will be a political price to pay for Justin Trudeau, one way or the other,” says Shachi Kurl with the Angus Reid Institute, adding this is a lose-lose situation for the government.

The prime minister has promised to get the pipeline built and that’s an unpopular choice in BC, which rewarded the Liberals with many seats in the last election.

“Particularly, in Metro Vancouver,” points out Kurl. “These are the same folks who are expressing the most amount of opposition to seeing that pipeline project completed.”

But if the pipeline doesn’t get built, Kurl says views on Trudeau’s leadership will darken and the Liberals will take a hit to support in Alberta and many other areas across the country.

“If you listen to what Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard has been saying about issues of jurisdiction, there could well be a double price to pay in Quebec,” she adds. “Of course, Quebec… is far removed from BC on the issue of the pipeline. But philosophically, politically… Quebecers are more opposed to the completion of the Trans Mountain project than even British Columbians are, in terms of public opinion.”

Kurl says it’s an impossible political choice for the prime minister. “But I think that the way we are seeing things unfolding, the greater damage to the prime minister will be caused by a failure to get the parties to agree or to get this project completed.”

She adds it’s too early to produce any hard numbers, since the conflict hit a new peak just recently. But she expects to see the real impact in the days and weeks ahead.