If a federal election were held tomorrow, the Conservatives would win. According to a new Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News, public reaction to a recent troubled trip by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India two weeks ago might be a symptom of a growing problem.
Liberals would win 33 per cent of the national popular decided vote if Canadians went to the polls this weekend, while Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives would receive 38 per cent of the same vote and win the election.
That’s a drop of five points since December for the Liberals and a jump of seven points since the same time for the Conservatives.
The NDP would get 21 per cent support, while the Green Party would get five per cent of the vote.
Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, said the declining fortunes for Trudeau and the Liberals are likely due to self-inflicted wounds.
“It’s the first time we’ve shown, since before the election, any time the Liberals have been behind. They’ve been consistently four or five points ahead of their nearest competitor; sometimes more than that for the last two years and a bit,” Bricker said.
“The remarkable thing about it is very little of it has to do with any of the qualities of the opposition parties. This is really people evaluating the government on its own terms and the Liberal Party on its own terms.”
The poll also found a five-point drop in the approval rating of the government.
A slim majority of 54 per cent now disapproves of the performance of the Liberal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while a minority of 46 per cent approves.
Of that, only nine per cent of respondents said they strongly approve of the government, while 37 per cent said they somewhat approve.
Twenty-eight per cent said they strongly disapprove and 26 per cent said they somewhat disapprove.
Bricker said the poll suggests a shift in public perceptions of Trudeau himself and many of the aspects of the party that initially drew in voters during the 2015 campaign, and suggested the recent trip to India is a prime example of that change.
“Something seems to have turned in terms of people’s reaction to the things that the government typically would do and get praised for,” he said.
Last week, Trudeau and his family, along with 14 Liberal MPs, spent a week in India that was meant to be focused on boosting trade and cultural ties between the two countries.
However, the trip was dogged by criticism about the Canadian contingent’s consistent wearing of traditional Indian clothing and suggestions by opposition critics that the official schedule was light on business and heavy on tourist stops.
The biggest headline from the trip, though, continues to be Liberal MP Randeep Sarai’s decision to invite convicted attempted murder Jaspal Atwal.
That conviction earned Atwal a spot on the India government’s travel blacklist — from which he was mysteriously removed last year.
While Trudeau has said the invite never should have been granted and was promptly yanked once news of it emerged, a senior government source told reporters several days later that the decision to remove Atwal from the travel blacklist raised questions about whether factions in India had orchestrated Atwal’s presence in order to try and sabotage the trip.
Global News agreed at the time of the interview not to identify the source.
According to the poll, 40 per cent of Canadians think the trip to India had a negative effect on Canada-India relations. Just 16 per cent think it was a positive step forward while 21 per cent think it had no impact on relations.
As well, reaction to the federal budget among Canadians has been largely lukewarm, Bricker said, pointing to poll numbers that suggest only nine per cent of Canadians gave the federal budget “two thumbs up.”
In contrast, 23 per cent gave it “two thumbs down” while the vast majority of 69 per cent said they would merely “shrug their shoulders” at it.
“Once the mood starts to sour towards the things that used to make you strong, it starts to stick to everything,” Bricker said. “The thing that’s really held them up is the prime minister and people’s views of him so when that takes a hit, everything starts to go and that’s what’s happened here.”
In Ontario, key to any election victory given the rich number of seats in the province, the Trudeau Liberals may be starting to see a similar tarnishing of their brand in connection with the public discontent with the government of Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Popular vote breakdowns in the province show Conservatives with a lead at 43 per cent, compared to the Liberals at 36 per cent.
While Liberal support holds strong in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, along with a three-way tie between the major parties in British Columbia, support for the party in the Prairies has plummeted.
In Alberta, support for the Conservatives is at 62 per cent, while 25 per cent support the NDP and 11 per cent the Liberals.
In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Conservatives have a 20-point lead over the Liberals, who sit at 24 per cent support.
Bricker said that Prairie pounding is also part of what is dragging down the national numbers for the Liberals, but noted he would want to see several more such polls holding steady with similar results before predicting a long-term problem for the party.
“It’s clearly not been the best couple of weeks. The polling evidence is clear,” he said. “The question is whether they can get back on track. They have time on their side so the potential is there but it’s going to be a bit of a shock.”
This Ipsos poll on behalf of Global News was an online survey of 1,001 Canadian adults conducted between Feb. 28 and March 1, 2018. The results were weighted to better reflect the composition of the adult Canadian population, according to census data. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
– global news