April 7, 2013 6:32 pm

Canadians remain split on Harper’s performance: poll

Prime Minister Stephen Harper left for London early today to pay his respects to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – The good news for Stephen Harper is that his approval rating is holding steady, as the Conservatives near the halfway point in their first majority government. The bad news for Harper is that he’s also holding steady with most Canadians disapproving of the job he’s doing.

Ipsos Reid, in an exclusive poll conducted for Global News, found 58 per cent of Canadian voters are unhappy with Harper’s performance, which is up three points since the last survey in November.

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“Remembering that it does not take a majority to govern in this country, if those who approve of his performance are prepared to support him in the next election, the Tories could be on their way to a fourth mandate,” said Ipsos Reid CEO Darrell Bricker.

The percentage of Canadians who think Harper should run for another term in office is up two points, to 45 per cent, since last fall. But, of the 1,053 people surveyed between March 28 and April 3, 33 per cent strongly disagree and 22 per cent somewhat disagree that he should

With an election two years away and both of the Conservatives’ main rivals putting forward new leaders –Thomas Mulcair fronting the official Opposition NDP and Justin Trudeau the presumptive leader of the Liberals – Harper has time to drum up the support needed to stay in office, should he run again.

A fair share of Canadians feel he is an effective leader, especially during tough economic times. Poll results released earlier showed 43 per cent of people surveyed saw Harper is the leader who can best manage the economy, ahead of Trudeau by nine points and 20 points ahead of Mulcair.

But that doesn’t mean he’s actually taking the country down the right path, at least in the minds of 54 per cent of adults — a number that has gone up six points since spring 2012.

Only about one-tenth (13 per cent) of respondents expressed a positive reaction to the Conservatives’ recent federal budget - a five-point drop from one year ago. Most Canadians (65 per cent) were actually indifferent to the Economic Action Plan, while nearly one quarter (22 per cent) gave it a “thumbs down.”

According to the poll, 63 per cent of Canadians also feel the Prime Minister and his party have not kept an election promise to “provide an ethical, open, and transparent government. Even more — 69 per cent — find the Conservatives too secretive.

Trudeau has his own obstacles to overcome should he face off with Harper the next time Canadians head to the polls.

Global News revealed on Friday half of Canadians don’t really know anything about the 41-year-old Papineau MP’s federal agenda, and almost three-quarters (73 per cent) don’t think he would even be a candidate for Liberal leadership if he wasn’t Pierre Trudeau’s son.

But the Ipsos Reid poll showed that, should an election be held now, the Conservatives and Liberals, under Trudeau leadership, are at a statistical tie and both slightly ahead of the New Democrats: Liberals 32 per cent, Conservative 31 per cent, NDP 27 per cent.

The Ipsos Reid poll was conducted between March 28 and April 3, on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television. For this survey, a sample of 1,053 Canadians, from Ipsos’ Canadian online panel was interviewed online. The poll is accurate to within 3.4 percentage points had all Canadian adults been surveyed.

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