Just as more Canadians are worried about the troubled economy, Justin Trudeau continues to ride a wave of strong approval ratings as he remains the most trusted federal leader among voters, according to new polls.
A survey from the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) published Tuesday found 47 per cent of Canadians think the economy is top of mind, while another 22 per cent said jobs and unemployment were the most important. Health care finished a close third.
Looking at the federal leaders, the poll found 32 per cent of Canadians said Trudeau was the person to deal with the economy. He was followed by Rona Ambrose, the Interim Conservative Leader, at 21 per cent, and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair at 12 per cent.
A separate survey from Nanos research found 51 per cent of Canadians said they preferred Trudeau, followed by 15 per cent who named Ambrose, and 11 per cent who went with Mulcair. Another 16.5 per cent were unsure who they preferred as PM.
The new numbers come just as the Liberal government projected an $18.4-billion deficit Monday, breaking Trudeau’s campaign promise of keeping the deficit below $10 billion.
“The Liberals were largely elected on the back of or on the basis of this deficit promise about making life better for the middle class, about addressing inequality, about addressing economic anxiety,” said Shachi Kurl, executive director Angus Reid Institute.
READ MORE: Liberals announce $18.4 billion deficit
However, the ARI poll suggested that Canadians have only a limited amount of tolerance for deficit spending as 44 per cent said they wanted the Liberal government to stick to its campaign pledge. Just 22 per cent said the government should spend whatever is necessary.
While Trudeau’s approval numbers have been holding steady since his party’s election victory in October, what has changed is how concerned Canadians are with terrorism and security.
The ARI survey found just nine per cent named the issue as the most important, down from 21 per cent in a similar poll conducted in November following the Paris terrorist attacks.
An IPSOS poll also from November found a majority of Canadians were concerned with fighting terrorism as 68 per cent supported Canada continuing its role in the U.S.-led coalition of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.
And while Canada has announced its new strategy in the fight against ISIS, Kurl said it’s not surprising people seem less concerned with security issues.
“People in general are responsive to what is in front of them,” she said. “Last fall, we were dealing with the Paris attacks and the year before there were acts of homegrown terrorism on our very own soil… that really brought it home and galvanized Canadians.”
The Angus Reid Institute poll was conducted between Feb. 2 and 10, 2016, interviewing 5,867 Canadians online. A margin of error does not apply as this was an online survey. By comparison, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Nanos Research poll was conducted between Jan. 24 and Feb. 19, 2016, interviewing 1,000 Canadians over the phone. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
© 2016 Shaw Media