Left wing set to win in Canada's BC, may reshape energy policy

Thu May 9, 2013 5:12pm EDT
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By Jennifer Kwan

VICTORIA, British Columbia (Reuters) - The left-leaning New Democrats are set to reshape energy policy in Canada's Pacific province of British Columbia if, as expected, they seize power from the Liberals in Tuesday's elections to the provincial legislature.

Opinion polls put the NDP between 7 and 10 percentage points ahead of the Liberals, well down from the 20-point lead the party had before the campaign started.

The Liberals's rating rose as they played up fears the New Democrats would be poor stewards of Canada's fourth-largest provincial economy. But the NDP should still win, after being out of power for 12 years.

"It's not as dramatic as a 20-point lead, but even a seven-point lead would give us an NDP government," said pollster Mario Canseco, at Angus Reid Public Opinion, who has the NDP ahead by seven points.

The legislative assembly has 85 seats, with 45 currently held by Liberals and 36 by the NDP, and four held by independents. That means the NDP would need to gain seven seats to take a majority in the assembly.

British Columbia prides itself on a pristine environment and a history of environmental activism - the Greenpeace movement got its start here 42 years ago.

With polls showing the majority of the province's 4.6 million citizens concerned about the threat of spills from oil pipelines, both parties question such developments, especially Enbridge's proposed C$6 billion ($6 billion) Northern Gateway pipeline that would ship 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day from Alberta to the B.C. coast for export to Asia.

Enbridge, Canada's biggest pipeline company, acknowledges the opposition to its plan. But Al Monaco, the company's chief executive, said he expects support for the project to climb.   Continued...