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Politics

Conservatives gain support as controversies plague Liberals: poll

Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons.
Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons. The Canadian Press

Two years after they were elected, the Liberals are still the most favoured party in Canadian federal politics — but competition is heating up.

A survey released Thursday by Abacus Data shows that if an election was held today, Liberals would garner 39 per cent of support, the Conservatives 35 per cent, and the New Democrats would get 15 per cent of votes.

Liberals have a narrowing lead over Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives. When the same survey was conducted in July, it found that Liberals would get 43 per cent of support, and the Conservatives would rake in 17 per cent.

READ MORE: Liberals’ support still strong despite Khadr settlement, poll finds

The fall in support is likely due to the multiple controversies plaguing the Liberal government, including proposed changes to small business taxes, Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s alleged conflict of interest and the government’s handling of refugees.

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Bruce Anderson, the chairman of the polling organization, said the latest findings indicate that competition between Liberals and Conservatives is growing.

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“Reaction to the proposed tax changes on individual private corporations have been a drag on Liberal support,” he noted in the survey. “Both because they animated Conservative Party supporters and because the fairness proposition of the government has failed to generate enthusiasm among Liberal and NDP voters.”

The October survey notes that while support for the Liberal government has slipped, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval remains fairly steady. Forty-eight per cent of Canadians say they hold a favourable view of the leader, while 31 per cent hold negative views.

That’s largely in line with July, when 49 per cent approved of his job performance and 30 per cent disapproved.

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Justin Trudeau asked about Bill Morneau controversy
Justin Trudeau asked about Bill Morneau controversy

Abacus Data CEO David Coletto said this indicates the Liberal party leader remains “a strong asset for his party and the government.”

Coletto added this latest survey should provide “solace” to Conservatives.

“They have hit a high mark in our vote intention tracking since the election and the government seems a bit more vulnerable today than only a few weeks ago,” he said.

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For the NDP, run by newly minted leader Jagmeet Singh, the survey doesn’t offer much good news.

In July, the party had 16 per cent of support.

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Scheer calls fall economic statement ‘terrible news’
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“But given the challenges the Liberals have faced recently and the opportunity a new, exciting and interesting leader affords a party, I would have expected a bounce in NDP support,” Coletto said.

Abacus Data findings come just days after another survey conducted by the Angus Reid Forum, which found that 48 per cent of Canadians approve of the Liberal government’s performance.

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The Angus Reid survey noted some of Trudeau’s biggest hits and misses as prime minister, according to Canadians.

Some hits included the gender-balanced cabinet and improvement to Canada’s reputation on the world stage. Misses consisted of the government’s $10.5-million settlement with Omar Khadr, and its larger-than-expected budget deficits.

READ MORE: Trudeau’s hits and misses as prime minister (so far), according to Canadians

Pauline Beange, a Canadian politics and public policy professor at the University of Toronto, noted that the successes and failures of the government, and its current support, can’t predict what will happen in two years.

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“I don’t think this necessarily is an indication of how people will vote in the election,” she said.

The Abacus Data poll was conducted online between Oct. 20-23, 2017, and completed by 1,500 Canadian adults. The poll is considered accurate +/- 2.6%, 19 times out of 20.

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