Leta Zaleski voted NDP.
That's not a huge revelation, unless you're in Alberta, where Zaleski was raised.
"I think if my parents knew I ever voted NDP they'd be completely rolling over," she said in an interview.
The Chilliwack mother of two young boys said she and her husband moved to B.C. about 18 years ago from Edmonton, and have been voting B.C. Liberal for longer than the party has been in power.
But when the Chilliwack byelec-tion came around this past April, there was one issue the Zaleski's couldn't get past: heavy-oil pipelines.
"We started seeing what was happening in Michigan and how their lives were affected," Zaleski said, referring to the 2010 Enbridge spill in Kalamazoo, which led U.S. regulators to deride the Canadian energy giant as being akin to the "Keystone Kops."
Zaleski-who voted NDP once before when she first arrived in B.C. because of the party's position on health care-said she's concerned about Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, but even more about Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline.
"It would be catastrophic," she said of any significant problems, citing concerns a leak along the route could damage the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, which Chilliwack uses for its drinking water.
"So that's kind of got us going," she added.
Leta's husband, Rick Zaleski, agreed.
"I had previously voted Liberal, but I don't agree with their stance-basically saying it will all be OK if we get enough money," he said, referring to a demand by Premier Christy Clark on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline that B.C. get a greater share of the economic benefits.
"It's not about money, it's about where we live and how we live and our future here in this province," he added.
"(The pipeline issue) is definitely guiding my voting now."
A recent poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion shows the Zaleskis are not alone in their opposition to heavy-oil pipelines, especially when it comes to the Northern Gateway.
The early October poll found 57 per cent of British Columbians are against the pipeline, with 34 per cent saying they oppose it "completely."
At the same time, the polling firm also found the opposition firming up, with fewer opponents saying they would change their mind on the project if the five requirements set out by Clark's government are met.
The trend raises a key question- beyond whether or not the pipeline will ever be built-of what this will mean for the next provincial election.
In other words, are the Zaleskis the front end of a massive group of one-issue voters poised to make the 2013 campaign about pipelines?
Likely not, says Angus Reid vice-president Mario Canseco.
"I just don't see this as something that is going to move a lot of voters," he said in an interview.
"If the base is happy with you, they'll be happy with the way you handle specific issues such as this one, but I just don't foresee a scenario where somebody who has right now decided to vote NDP or Conservative looks at the premier and the way she's handling Enbridge and goes, 'Maybe I'll switch back to the Liberals,'" he said.
Plus, Canseco added, people's core concerns appear to lie elsewhere.
"We see that the concerns people have, more than anything else, are the economy, which is an issue where (Clark) has been trailing (NDP leader) Adrian Dix for the past couple of months, and health care, where the Liberals have not traditionally done well against the NDP," he said. "Those are the issues that are going to be defining how we go from here."
Clark's government has also taken a progressively tougher stance on the pipeline issue, most recently lashing out at Enbridge over the answers it has been giving to government cross examination.
"The company needs to show British Columbians that they have practical solutions to the environmental risks and concerns that have been raised. So far, they have not done that," Environment Minister Terry Lake said in a news release.
Paired with the five conditions Clark released over the summer as a prerequisite for any new heavy-oil pipeline, the government's hardening stance appears to be shrinking the gap between itself and the Opposition NDP, meaning the pipeline issue could be less of a wedge the closer voters come to the election.
Dix, however, says he thinks that kind of analysis misses the point.
"It won't be a non-issue because as long as the government continues in the equivalency agreement, they're handing over jurisdiction to the federal government," he said.
"We weighed the matter on its merits and they, having taken one position, tried to take other positions," he added.
"The fact that we took our position at a time when the public opinion polls suggested there was more support for the Enbridge pipeline than opposition shows the different approach."
Clark agreed the process will be important to voters, but said she believes it is Dix, and not her, who has wavered over time.
"We waited until we had enough information and then formulated a very principled position," she said in an interview. "We spent months submitting written questions to the (joint review panel).
"We were engaged for months before we talked publicly about the five conditions. So we did our homework, and based on the homework, we formulated a very principled position which applies across the province."
By contrast, Clark said, Dix came out against the
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