More Canadians are warming up to Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh as the election campaign goes on, a new poll suggests — but Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is still seen as the best choice for prime minister.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found the number of people who want Trudeau for the top job is slipping, however. Thirty-four per cent of voters surveyed said the Liberal leader would be the best prime minister, down five points from the start of the campaign.
O’Toole and Singh are tied at 29 per cent support, climbing four and six points, respectively, since the election was called.
“The other two candidates are getting better defined and are much more competitive with Justin Trudeau than they were prior to the campaign,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.
“The single biggest attribute the Liberal Party had back in 2015 was the profile of Justin Trudeau. And what’s happened is that he’s come back to Earth.”
Trudeau’s support has particularly crumbled in Ontario (33 per cent said he would make the best prime minister, down seven points from the start of the campaign) and British Columbia (28 per cent, down 11 points) — both key battleground provinces that will decide which party forms government.
In both provinces, Singh has emerged the favourite, with 36 per cent support in Ontario and 38 per cent in B.C. O’Toole predictably came out on top in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while Trudeau was the top pick everywhere else.
While Singh’s popularity and familiarity with Canadians has been rising even before the campaign started, O’Toole has faced a tougher task. The entirety of his young leadership has taken place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, making it harder for him to introduce himself to the country.
The poll results suggest he’s finally starting to break through as the campaign intensifies, Bricker says.
“Six months ago, Erin O’Toole in particular was having a very hard time introducing himself to Canadians,” he said. “That’s changed.”
The poll — which surveyed over 1,500 Canadians online last weekend — found Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-François Blanchet each earned four per cent support as the best candidate for prime minister, unchanged since the start of the campaign.
The results also suggest Trudeau continues to face skepticism from the Canadian public. He’s still seen as the leader most likely to say anything to get elected, at 46 per cent — up two points over the past two weeks — while 36 per cent said he has a hidden agenda, also higher than any other leader.
Thirty-two per cent said O’Toole has a hidden agenda, up six points since the election was called, likely reflecting his increased familiarity with Canadians. Conservative leaders have typically been seen most as the ones with something to hide, Bricker says, making Trudeau’s high numbers so unusual.
O’Toole is closing the gap with Trudeau in a number of key attributes, the poll found, including management during tough economic times (26 per cent for O’Toole versus 27 per cent for Trudeau), getting things done (22 per cent versus 25 per cent), and spending taxpayer money wisely (22 per cent versus 19 per cent).
Singh, meanwhile, continues to outrank Trudeau in what Bricker calls the “sunny ways” attributes that were once Trudeau’s stock in trade.
The NDP leader is seen as the most sincere and trustworthy of all the party leaders (29 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively) and the one who wants to lead Canada for the right reasons (28 per cent). He also earned the lowest marks for having a hidden agenda (six per cent), saying anything to get elected (six per cent), and being in over his head (eight per cent).
While Singh has made big gains of five or more points across all those attributes since the campaign began, O’Toole has risen more modestly by one or two points in each category. But Bricker says those gains are still notable — and harmful for Trudeau.
“O’Toole is less about ‘sunny ways’ and more about competence … and managing the government,” Bricker said.
“So where Justin Trudeau seems to be losing, it’s not specifically to any individual candidate, but it’s specific aspects … that seem to be going to two different leaders, and it’s got him in a squeeze.”
Forty per cent of voters surveyed still say none of the party leaders will keep their election promises, with a plurality also saying none of them possess many other positive attributes.
Although the poll suggests Trudeau is still seen as the leader Canadians feel will best represent the country on the world stage (32 per cent) and has the right temperament and maturity to be prime minister (28 per cent), those numbers are falling along with his standing in nearly every other attribute.
Bricker says the Liberal leader is now starting to drag his party down with him — mostly due to voters’ anger over how the election was called — and will need to find a way to pick away at O’Toole and Singh’s rising popularity before time runs out.
“His ability to really attack his major opponent, which is O’Toole and the Conservatives, is really restricted by his own personal difficulties,” he said.
“Really what this election has turned into is a referendum not on the performance of the Liberal Party, but on what Canadians think about the prime minister.”
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 27-30, 2021 on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of n = 1,501 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online, via the Ipsos I-Say panel and non-panel sources, and respondents earn a nominal incentive for their participation. Quotas and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos polls which include non-probability sampling is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC, found here: https://canadianresearchinsightscouncil.ca/standards/