November 20, 2017 10:00 am
Updated: November 20, 2017 12:43 pm

Bill Morneau gets a failing grade from Canadians, poll says

WATCH: Are Bill Morneau’s days numbered?

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau is the most recognizable minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, but not necessarily for the right reasons, according to a new Angus Reid poll gauging Canadians’ awareness and assessments of their ministers.

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Seventy-five per cent of the 800 Canadians polled were able to recognize Morneau, who was one of just five cabinet ministers recognized by over 60 per cent of Canadians.

But only 23 per cent of respondents said he’s doing a good job, while 43 per cent gave him the thumbs down.

READ MORE: Ethics commissioner investigates Bill Morneau over Bill C-27 questions

Morneau has endured stinging criticism in recent months over his controversial small business tax proposal, as well as perceived conflicts of interest having to do with Bill C-27. The bill would affect pensions. Morneau’s family company Morneau Shepell is Canada’s largest provider of pension administration technology and services.

The embattled finance minister is a polarizing figure even among Liberal Party supporters, with just over one in three saying he has done a good job, compared to 28 per cent who aren’t impressed.

Conservatives were unsurprisingly even more scathing in their assessments, with 54 per cent saying Morneau is doing a bad job and only 14 per cent granting him a passing grade.

WATCH: Morneau, Scheer have bizarre exchange in House of Commons

The poll also gave each minister a “performance score,” calculated by subtracting “bad job” from “good job” numbers. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen scored the lowest on this metric, owing to 31 per cent of Canadians approving of his work but 37 per cent disapproving.

This may stem from the controversial file that Hussen oversees, Angus Reid suggested.

“The government’s policy toward refugees, which has set immigration targets at 300,000 per year including 40,000 refugees, is one of the least popular items in the Trudeau compendium after two years,” the pollster pointed out in a release.

READ MORE: Canadian government wants 310,000 immigrants in 2018, 340,000 a year by 2020

The big winner in the poll was Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, whose time has largely been devoted to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Twice as many Canadians (46 per cent) said Freeland is doing a good job compared to those who said she’s doing poorly (23 per cent), with the rest unsure. However, men were more likely to be critical of Freeland, with 29 per cent giving her a failing grade compared to 16 per cent of women.

WATCH: NDP demand Liberals stand up against U.S. bully tactics on NAFTA

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale placed just behind Freeland when it came to getting “good job” ratings from Canadians, but ranked slightly higher on the performance score metric.

“Goodale is widely respected in Ottawa, having first served in parliament in 1974, and been named minister under the Chretien, Martin and Trudeau governments,” Angus Reid said in its release.

The relative unknowns

Elsewhere, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould may be the youngest female cabinet minister in Canada’s history, but only 29 per cent of Canadians know who she is.

Even in her home province of Ontario, Gould was not recognized by seven in ten respondents.

READ MORE: Optimism turns to realism as Liberals mark two years in power

While Gould is the least recognized cabinet minister, National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier garnered the lowest performance score among the so-called “relative unknowns” — the grouping of ministers who were recognized by less than 40 per cent of Canadians.

“Perceptions of her job performance may well be suffering due to ongoing problems with the government’s Phoenix payment system, which has caused significant financial trouble for thousands of government employees over the past two years,” Angus Reid suggested.

Middle Ministers

In between the Morneaus and Goulds lay the “middle ministers,” those who are recognizable to between 40 and 50 per cent of Canadians.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, the first Indigenous person to hold that post, was her party’s most popular cabinet minister, with 57 per cent saying she is doing a good job and only 7 per cent disagreeing.

Meanwhile, the federal government’s efforts to strike a balance between economic growth and environmental considerations cost Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, who had the lowest performance score among the middle ministers.

WATCH: Natural Resources minister defends record on pipeline projects

Throughout the poll, there was a clear pattern of political affiliations affecting Canadians’ opinions.

For example, half of past Conservative voters said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has done a bad job, while 61 per cent of Liberals held the opposite view.

Sajjan was also the second most recognized cabinet minister after Morneau, with Transport Minister Marc Garneau rounding out the top three.

The Angus Reid Institute separated the thirty members of the federal Liberal cabinet into three groups. Each group was offered to a randomized sample of 800 Canadians for a total of 2400 responses. Each individual respondent was asked to rate ten cabinet members, whether these individuals have done a good or a bad job in the first two years, whether the results are mixed, or whether they do not know who that person is. Each group of ministers was balanced for gender and regional representation.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from November 8 – 14 among a representative randomized sample of 2,425 Canadian adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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