Canadians feel Trudeau’s image on the world stage is his biggest asset: Poll

Insights West probes Trudeau’s weak spots, too, and asks what Canadians expect from the Liberals in the next two years

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a Global Compact Luncheon at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a Global Compact Luncheon at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

At the midway point of the four-year mandate his Liberal government won in the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau’s international image has emerged as his strongest suit with the Canadian public, according to an Insights West poll for Maclean’s.

The online survey found that 67 per cent think Trudeau and the Liberals have done a “very good” or “good” job representing Canada internationally. Mario Canseco, vice-present of public affairs for Vancouver-based Insights West, said the levels of approval for Trudeau and his government when it comes to projecting Canada’s image and interests in the world is extraordinary.

“We never saw anything like this for Stephen Harper, we never saw anything like this for Paul Martin, or for Jean Chrétien, for that matter,” Canseco said. “I mean, 67 per cent—those are obscenely high numbers.”

LISTEN: Insights West’s Mario Canseco on the new poll


By comparison, the poll found that 50 per cent are content with the Liberal government’s handling of relations with First Nations, 50 per cent like the way they are taking action to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 49 per cent approve of the way the government is starting its process to legalize and regulate marijuana next year.

Still, even those less stellar issue-by-issue approval numbers show the Liberals’ handling of specific files is viewed favourably by many Canadians who don’t actually plan to vote for them. If an election were held tomorrow, the Insights West poll found the Liberals would get 35 per cent of the vote, followed by the Conservatives with 33 per cent, and the New Democratic Party with 20 per cent.

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Canseco saw some reason for NDP optimism in the demographics behind that 20 per cent score, pointing to signs that younger votes might be taking a fresh look at the third party. “There’s definitely a little bit of that competition between the Liberals and the NDP for the millennial vote, which we didn’t really see in the final stages of the last election,” he said.

Jagmeet Singh, the new NDP leader, showed the best momentum score among the national leaders: 21 per cent of Canadians said they have a better opinion of him than they did six months ago. For Trudeau, 38 per cent said their opinion of him has worsened in the same period. Still, the Prime Minister continues to outstrip his rivals in overall approval, with 51 per cent approving of his performance, compared to 40 per cent for Singh and 37 per cent for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, Trudeau and his Liberal government are struggling to win over the public on some contentious, polarizing issues. Only about 36 per cent of Canadians are satisfied with their proposed tax reforms. Only 33 per cent think they made the right decisions in abandoning their promise to bring in electoral reform that would change the way Canadians vote. Just 29 per cent approve of the government’s efforts in dealing with pipeline projects.

Despite all that, however, 47 per cent expect the Trudeau government to pick up momentum and achieve more in the final two years of its mandate, well above the 39 per cent who guess the Liberals will lose momentum and achieve less between now and 2019.

Results are based on an online study conducted by Insights West from October 24 to October 26, 2017, among 1,005 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points for the entire sample, nineteen times out of twenty.


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