08/03/2012 05:15 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Christy Clark B.C. Liberals Slipping, While NDP Surges According To Poll

VANCOUVER - B.C. Premier Christy Clark has brushed aside polling results from this week that show her popularity lags far behind the opposition NDP, despite her high-profile battle to win a better share of the predicted windfall if the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is approved.

"I think the poll that is actually going to matter is the one about a year from now when we get to election day and that's the one that will determine who is in government the year after that," Clark said in her first meeting with reporters since her dramatic performance at a premiers' meeting last week.

She walked out on the final day.

But while pollster Mario Canseco, vice-president of Angus Reid, says a good, old-fashioned intergovernmental spat has been good politics for other leaders, this one hasn't given Clark much of a boost.

Under different circumstances, the premier's position on Northern Gateway and her dispute with Alberta Premier Alison Redford would have worked in her favour, he said.

An Angus Reid survey earlier this week found 59 per cent of the 804 British Columbians surveyed online opposed the pipeline, which would carry crude oil along 1,170 kilometres from Alberta to the B.C. coast where it would be shipped to foreign markets.

But the governing Liberals' popularity dropped by one per cent since last month, according to another online survey done by the pollster early this week and released Friday.

That survey showed the British Columbians questioned regard NDP Leader Adrian Dix as the preferred next premier.

Of the 804 respondents, 49 per cent said they would vote NDP, 22 per cent said they would vote Liberal, and 19 per cent said they would cast their vote for the B.C. Conservatives if a provincial election were held tomorrow.

The survey results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Canseco pointed to the case of former Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams, whose popularity rose significantly in 2004 when he removed Canadian flags from provincial buildings after a dispute over offshore royalties with the federal government.

The difference for Clark is she is nowhere near as popular as Williams was, said Canseco.

He said the B.C. Liberals's popularity has remained relatively low, around 22 and 23 per cent, in the past three months.

The fact that many party members have announced they aren't running for re-election and the defection of one Liberal to the B.C. Conservatives has impacted Clark's credibility, Canseco said.

"By picking a fight, when you're not really popular, and...never been tested in an election as a leader for the B.C. Liberals, it's more difficult to use that to your advantage," he said.

"There are a lot of people skeptical of her leadership, a large base in the B.C. Liberals is abandoning her because of her leadership style, so this [feud with Alberta and the federal government] isn't something that's going to resonate dramatically."

Clark said Friday her stance on the pipeline project has not changed despite the poll numbers, and despite the fact that Redford has not yet shown any interest in discussing financial compensation for B.C.

"Alberta and the federal government have to come to the table with British Columbia to talk about making sure B.C. gets its fair share and to talk about how we're going to protect our environment to the best standards of the world," Clark told reporters.

"Once they do that, we can start talking about the issues. But if they don't do it, the pipeline will not happen."

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