Trudeau Liberals approval rating spikes amid possible Wet’suwet’en blockade resolution: poll

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Wednesday February 26, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A new poll suggests that approval ratings for the Liberal government’s performance have spiked with news of a possible agreement to settle Canada’s Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades.

After surveying 1,000 Canadians, the Ipsos poll found that Canada-wide approval of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government increased as much as 8 per cent since last week.

Canada’s approval now sits at 48 per cent, with nine per cent indicating they “strongly” approve and another 39 per cent saying they “somewhat” approve of the government’s performance.

Country-wide disapproval of Trudeau’s government still sits higher than its approval rating, however, with 52 per cent indicating their disapproval of their performance, split into 28 per cent “strongly” disapproving and 25 per cent “somewhat” disapproving.

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Darrell Bricker, Ipsos’ CEO of public affairs, said that the pressure coming off the concern of the Wet’suwet’en solidarity blockades is a combination of several things — the government’s peaceful solution to it, as well as the worldwide spread of COVID-19, which has also rattled Canada’s economy.

“The attention has been drawn away by another couple events that are also, in terms of their impact, pretty unfortunate, but people are weighting his leadership on this and probably will be judging him over the space of the next couple weeks,” said Bricker.

Click to play video: 'Rail blockades: Kahnawake Mohawk rail blockade comes to a peaceful end'
Rail blockades: Kahnawake Mohawk rail blockade comes to a peaceful end

Despite the Liberals’ jump in approval ratings, the poll results still indicate what looks like a “regional” divide in results across the country, according to Bricker.

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Ratings for Trudeau’s government continue to perform poorly across the West with Alberta’s disapproval rating sitting at 70 per cent, and both Saskatchewan’s and Manitoba’s at 68 per cent.

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Approval ratings for the government look to be highest across the East, however, with Ontario sitting at 54 per cent and Quebec at 50 per cent.

“The prime minister’s appeal is regional, so in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and especially in Ontario he does far better than he does in the rest of the country,” said Bricker.

The poll also included updated numbers on Canadians’ views towards the protests, indicating that overall disapproval of the rail blockades is beginning to soften.

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According to the poll, 56 per cent still have an unfavourable view of the blockades, which is slightly down from 61 per cent a month ago.

Negative views on the blockades still remain strongest across Western Canada — especially in Alberta and B.C., where disapproval ratings sit at 71 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively.

The Ipsos poll also comes at a time of global economic uncertainty stemming from the spread of a new virus that first emerged in China at the start of the year.

The spread of COVID-19 — which has since appeared in North American and Europe, resulting in widespread outbreaks in Italy, Iran and South Korea — and an oil production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia have sent world economies on a downward spiral.

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Canada was hit particularly hard.

Monday saw Canada’s main stock index experience its worst day in over 30 years, while the energy sector — heavily situated in Alberta — felt the immediate effects of the oil price drop.

“It’s bad news for the Alberta economy on the whole,” said Carleton University research associate Nick Falvo in a previous interview with Global News.

“With this recent drop, I think people will be starting to say the R-word and they would not be foolish in suggesting that.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta economy grappling with coronavirus fears and oil price drop'
Alberta economy grappling with coronavirus fears and oil price drop

Concerns over the spread of the virus, which has resulted in about 118,000 infections and over 4,200 deaths worldwide, also prompted moments of panic selling which triggered market shutdowns in both the U.S. and Canada.

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Bricker said that the decline of oil prices can easily worsen the West’s public opinion of the Liberals as well.

“The real thing was that this poll was being done just as what was going on economically started to happen,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes and his approval ratings is fluctuating quite a bit.

“The other thing is that it’s difficult to really compare him to anything right now, since there’s no real leader of the Official Opposition, but what I would say is it certainly rebounded … as a result of public attention moving off of the blockades and a certain amount of social peace being created around those issues.”

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The Ipsos poll was conducted between March 6 and 9, 2020 using a sample of 1,000 Canadian adults aged 18+ interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflected Canada’s population according to census parameters. This poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.

With files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Phil Heidenreich, Andrew Russell and Erica Alini

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