If an election were held tomorrow, Trudeau would receive only 31 per cent of the decided popular vote — down three points from a couple of weeks ago — while Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer would receive 40 per cent, according to the poll of 1,000 Canadians carried out between March 1 and March 4.
That’s the biggest lead the Conservatives have had since the previous election campaign — and that’s despite the fact that the polling data was obtained before Treasury Board President Jane Philpott resigned from Trudeau’s cabinet on Monday, following in the heels of former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould and principal secretary Gerald Butts.
“This is the first time we’ve actually seen the Conservative Party resuscitated and looking like they could potentially form the government,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“The Liberals, on the other hand, have been dropping precipitously over the space of the last few weeks. The question is have they hit bottom yet?”
The national approval figures are mirrored in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, where the Conservatives sit at 40 per cent, nine points over the Liberals, who are at 31 per cent.
WATCH:David Akin takes a look at where the Liberal government stands amid the SNC-Lavalin controversy.
Crucially, the Tories enjoy a commanding lead in the vote-rich 905 region surrounding Toronto.
“The Conservatives have over a 20-point lead in the 905, which has the most seats that swing back and forth in any election campaign,” said Bricker.
“With that kind of lead, they’re set to sweep the 905. If they sweep the 905, they probably win the election.”
WATCH: Trudeau disappointed by Jane Philpott resignation, interrupted by heckler at rally
The Trudeau Liberals’ prospects in Quebec also look dim. The Liberals had a 13-point lead over the Conservatives in Canada’s second-most populous province only two weeks ago, but that lead has since been slashed by half.
The Liberals now have the support of 35 per cent of Quebecers, with the Conservatives at 29 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois and NDP well behind at 19 per cent and 14 per cent respectively.
WATCH: Jane Philpott’s constituents and Prime Minister Trudeau respond to resignation
The polling also reveals that the ongoing SNC-Lavalin affair is directly responsible for Trudeau’s flagging support.
Sixty-four per cent of Canadians say they’re now following the issue — that’s 15 points up from two weeks ago.
Most of them also say they believe the issue deserves all the attention it has been getting, compared to less than a third who say the matter is being blown out of proportion.
A majority of Canadians — 55 per cent — also say it’s going to influence their voting decisions in this year’s federal election. That includes nearly one in five Liberal voters.
Bricker says those figures prove that the SNC-Lavalin affair isn’t just a story of interest to the news media and politics junkies and that average Canadians are paying attention.
“[Canadians] are coming to conclusions, and the conclusions they’re coming to relate to the character of the main protagonist,” said Bricker.
WATCH: Scheer says Philpott’s resignation ‘clearly demonstrates a government in total chaos’
Canadians are also increasingly siding with former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould over Trudeau.
Sixty-seven per cent of respondents say they believe Wilson-Raybould’s version of events regarding inappropriate political interference by the Prime Minister’s Office into her prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on corruption and bribery charges.
Worryingly for Trudeau, the SNC-Lavalin affair is concerning Canadians across the political divide, with Liberal Party supporters growing increasingly disapproving of the prime minister.
Nearly a quarter of Liberal voters say they believe Trudeau should step aside while the SNC-Lavalin affair is investigated, with 73 per cent of Liberals agreeing that the RCMP should probe the issue and lay charges against politicians and bureaucrats where appropriate.
“There’s no understanding how fundamentally this scandal has shaken the Liberal coalition to the core,” said Bricker. “We’re seeing it with a certain amount of meltdown at the present time, down nine points behind the Tories right now.
“The question is whether or not they’ve found bottom. It’s a very, very serious problem for the prime minister and his government.”
The severity of the challenge facing Trudeau is underscored by Canadians’ opinions of him staying on as prime minister — nearly two-thirds say he’s lost the moral authority to govern.
WATCH: Jane Philpott mum on questions regarding SNC-Lavalin scandal just hours before her resignation
Bricker says Trudeau is faced with three options: tough it out until the next election, step aside and let someone else lead the Liberal Party or call a snap election to clear the air.
Approval rating numbers suggest Trudeau would be well-advised not to take up Option 3.
“If you’re trailing by nine points — and that far behind in Ontario — that doesn’t seem like a very viable option,” said Bricker.
In December, Global News reported that the 2019 election looked to be the Liberals’ to lose, and that it would take an ill-timed stumble from Trudeau to open the window for a Conservative Party that was lurking within striking distance.
With the Tories now well ahead in the polls, Bricker says there’s no overstating the damage being done to the Trudeau government by the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
“Right now, I don’t think there’s any way we can overstate how seriously, fundamentally, this is hurting the ability of this prime minister and his government to continue,” Bricker said.
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between March 1 and 4, 2019, with a sample of 1,000 adults living in Canada polled. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.
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