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Liberals maintain double-digit lead despite Khadr payout, proposed tax reforms: poll

By Marco Vigliotti      

A new survey from Campaign Research shows the federal Liberals in the driver's seat as the fall session of Parliament begins, with the party holding wide leads in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals continue to nest a healthy lead over the rival Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, in the latest Campaign Research poll, with Mr. Trudeau himself boasting strong personal approval ratings.
The Hill Times file photos

PARLIAMENT HILL—The governing Liberals opened the fall session of Parliament with a healthy 12-point lead over the Conservatives, maintaining robust advantages in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec, while flirting with supermajority numbers in Atlantic Canada, a new public opinion poll suggests.

The latest survey from Campaign Research, conducted between Sept. 8-11 and released first to The Hill Times, pegs support for the Liberals at 42 per cent nationally, compared to 30 per cent for the second-place Tories and 16 per cent for the NDP, suggesting little backlash from the government’s proposed tax reforms or the controversial multi-million dollar payout to Omar Khadr.

“The Liberals and Justin Trudeau are performing actually quite well,” Campaign Research CEO Eli Yufest said in a phone interview with The Hill Times.

“There’s been a number of supposed controversies like the Omar Khadr deal, like the proposed small business tax changes. [But] none of those to date have hurt them, and so we’re seeing his numbers remain steady and in some cases go up slightly from where they were in the last couple of months.”

The governing Liberals had been criticized by the opposition Conservatives throughout the summer for awarding former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr $10.5-million in a proactive settlement over his imprisonment and for a planned series of reforms aimed at restricting the tax savings generated by incorporation.

However, Mr. Yufest said recent work by Campaign Research indicates Canadians largely don’t know what to expect from the tax changes, let alone how they feel about the proposal, though pointed out that most polling indicates widespread opposition to the Khadr payout.

He suggested Canadians are overlooking this slight because they don’t view the issue as particularly pertinent and remain largely supportive of the Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.), who continues to be personally popular with voters nearly two years after assuming office.

In the Campaign Research poll, more than half (52 per cent) of the 1,770 respondents said they approved of Mr. Trudeau, winning him a net favourability (approval subtracted by disapproval) rating of +16.

“Whether or not the noise and issues are created by the media or the pundits or social media, they aren’t sticking to Justin Trudeau or the Liberal Party, and we see that reflected in both Justin Trudeau’s personal popularity, as well as the Liberal Party’s popularity,” said Mr. Yufest, cautioning that as Canadians are familiarized with the tax changes, Liberal numbers might be impacted.

New Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) was the least popular of the party chiefs in the Campaign Research poll, with only 23 per cent of respondents voicing approval, though another 54 per cent said they didn’t know enough about him to offer an opinion. Mr. Scheer finished with a neutral net rating.

Outgoing NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, Que.) drew a net rating of minus three, with three in 10 respondents approving of his work.

Breaking the numbers down, the Liberals polled strongly across the country, winning support from 54 per cent of respondents in Atlantic Canada, 45 per cent in Quebec, 44 per cent in Ontario, and 40 per cent in the Prairies (Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined).

In the 2015 election, the Liberals won every seat in the four Atlantic provinces, 80 seats in Ontario, 40 in Quebec, and eight in the Prairies.

The Grits are the weakest in Alberta at only 27 per cent, while the party sits in second in British Columbia at 35 per cent. The party won four seats in Alberta in 2015, but grabbed 17 in B.C.

The Conservatives finished first in Alberta and B.C. at 47 and 38 per cent, respectively, while sitting in the runner-up spot in Ontario (34 per cent), the Prairies (31 per cent), and in Atlantic Canada (21 per cent). The right-of-centre party continues to struggle in Quebec, languishing in fourth spot at 12 per cent. The Bloc Québécois sits second in the only province it contests with 20 per cent.

The NDP finished third in almost every province or region, posting their best numbers in the Prairies (21 per cent), Quebec (18 per cent), and Atlantic Canada (18 per cent). In British Columbia, where the provincial wing currently forms government, the NDP is sitting at 17 per cent, while in Ontario, the party is polling at 16 per cent.

The NDP posted its worst numbers in Alberta, where the provincial wing also forms government, attracting just 10 per cent of support—two points behind the third-place Greens.

In the seat-rich Greater Toronto Area, the Liberals have a narrow three-point lead over the Conservatives (43 per cent to 39), with the NDP only attracting 12 per cent. However, in Toronto proper, the Liberals lead the Tories 48 to 31 per cent, with the NDP back at 15 per cent.

The Liberals swept the City of Toronto in the 2015 election, winning all 25 ridings up for grabs.

In the rest of Ontario, the Liberals were on top of the Tories by a 42-32 per cent margin, with the NDP at a healthier 19 per cent.

The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 2.3 per cent, or 19 times out of 20. Sample sizes for provinces and regions are smaller, and come with larger margins of error.

Rounding out the top four in the national horserace are the Greens at six per cent and the Bloc Québécois at five per cent.

mvigliotti@hilltimes.com

The Hill Times 

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