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Will Northern Gateway be approved? Tyee readers claim to know…

With the federal government's ruling on the Northern Gateway pipeline reportedly imminent, The Tyee asked its readers this week to predict the result.

More than 860 readers had responded by Thursday morning, and roughly 89 per cent of them said "yes" the feds will approve the pipeline. Respondents weren't happy about it, though.

Many yes voters seemed resigned to the outcome they expect:

"They don't care that the majority of Canadians are opposed. They run roughshod over all in their quest to support their corporate donors."

"They usually do what they want, not taking into consideration what the people would like."

"I don't want them to, but they are so hell bent on this thing that I think they will."

Some suggested the decision has already been made:

"They approved it several years ago. It is a done deal in their minds."

"It's obvious. They have been systematically chipping away at every potential blockade to approval. National parks, threatened species, navigable waters, environmental assessments and many more, all so that when they do approve it there will be no substantial legal impediments."

But not everyone who responded to the poll believes the decision is inevitable. Most of the 11 per cent of respondents who said "no" argued that the government knows it would face serious political consequences if it approved the pipeline:

"They will come in third place in the next federal election if they do."

"They know it's the wrong battle to get into when B.C. is so against it. As much as they want their bitumen out for the shareholders in the tar sands, they're smart enough to understand how slim their margin of victory was. 21 MPs in B.C. is a difference maker."

The political argument cuts both ways, however. Those on the "yes" side also saw political strategy motivating the decision:

"They have no alternative if they want to keep the support of their Alberta caucus and the dollars of campaign money from the big corporations in the oil sector."

Others think the government doesn't realize the political risk:

"If they were so blind to not see the opposition to this before they initiated the project, I doubt they are going to have a light bulb moment now."

"Harper is not smart enough to read the tea leaves!"

The prime minister was a favourite target in comments on both sides of the question:

"WHAT ELSE CAN HARPER DO?... they'll qualify by imposing multi conditions, but the minute anyone is seen to start the building process, the protests and blockades will begin. Who in their right mind would invest in this project! It's doomed"

"It's Harper's legacy -- to celebrate the last gasp of the Carbon Age and to be vilified forever."

"Harper runs on bitumen!"

The Tyee Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather is intended to simply get the pulse of Tyee readers and the wider community. This week's poll will remain open through the end of the day on Sunday.

Ian Holliday is completing a practicum at The Tyee and is the website's resident poll analyst. Follow him on Twitter @Ian_Holliday.

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