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Liberals remain top choice of voters, Conservatives showing little movement in second: poll

By Marco Vigliotti      

A new Forum Research poll says the Liberals are comfortably in the lead, up eight points on the second-place Tories, while the NDP sits in the mid-teens.

The federal Liberals remain solidly ahead of their rivals, a new poll suggests, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outpaces Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in personal popularity. The Hill Times photographs by Jake Wright
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Justin Trudeau’s Liberals remain firmly in top spot in the federal horse race, with Andrew Scheer unable to move numbers ahead for the Conservatives, and the NDP flirting with lows not seen in almost a decade, according to a new poll from Forum Research.

The latest numbers, from polling conducted between Aug. 16-17 and shared exclusively with The Hill Times ahead of their release, shows support for the Liberals unmoved from an early-June poll at 42 per cent, and its main rivals struggling to gain traction, suggesting that the controversial payout to Omar Khadr and start of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement have failed to shift voter intentions.

Based on those numbers, the Liberals would be on pace to expand their majority government in the next election, from 184 seats to 211, Forum said. The Conservatives, at 35 per cent, would slightly increase their seat haul from 99 to 105, maintaining the title of official opposition in the House of Commons.

Despite the initial media firestorm, it appears the federal government’s decision to award former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr a $10.5-million payout hasn’t dented Liberal fortunes, nor has the recent start of NAFTA talks with the United States and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) appears to be outpacing his own party in popularity, with 49 per cent approving of his performance so far, compared to 42 per cent in disapproval. At 40 per cent, Mr. Trudeau is still seen by a plurality of voters as the best choice for prime minister.

“For the most part, the numbers for both the leaders and their parties have remained consistent throughout the summer,” Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, said in a statement.

“As the start of the fall legislative session nears, we may expect some upheaval in these numbers as MPs get back to work, but for now Justin Trudeau holds a favourable edge over both his main rivals.”

On the other hand, Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) has failed to make much of an impression on the Canadian electorate since being elected Conservative Party leader in May, with 48 per cent of poll respondents saying they don’t know what to make of the Saskatchewan politician. Those who have their read of the Tory leader are nearly evenly divided, with 25 per cent approving of him, and 26 per cent voicing disapproval.

Only 18 per cent of respondents said Mr. Scheer would make the best prime minister.

The Conservatives have not benefitted much in the way of a post-election bump since Mr. Scheer became leader, with the party also polling at 35 per cent in the last Forum poll conducted before the leadership vote. They were as high as 38 per cent in March when, according to Forum, they led the Liberals who were at 36 per cent.

Despite a slight uptick, the NDP continues to poll at its worst numbers in nearly a decade. The party is the first choice of only 14 per cent of respondents, up two points from the last Forum poll in June, and failed to crest above 21 per cent in any province. The party won 44 seats in 2015, which was its second-best showing ever, bested only by the Orange Wave led by the late, former leader Jack Layton in 2011, when the NDP took 103 seats. If an election were held today, the NDP would only win 16 seats, according to Forum. 

Perhaps most alarming for the NDP, which will choose a new leader next month, is its plummeting support in Quebec, which paved the way for its historic breakthrough in 2011. The party currently sits in fourth place in the province at 15 per cent, down 10 points from the 2015 election. The Liberals lead in Quebec at 38 per cent, followed by the Conservatives at 23 per cent, and the Bloc Québécois at 17 per cent.

The Liberals also score the highest in Atlantic Canada (56 per cent), Ontario (47 per cent), and British Columbia (40 per cent). The Tories lead in the Prairies and Alberta at 53 and 57 per cent, respectively. The Liberals score the worst in the Prairies at 30 per cent, while the Tories are at their lowest in Quebec.

For the NDP, the worst region is Alberta, where the party attracts only six per cent of support. The provincial NDP currently forms government in Alberta. 

The Green Party, which holds one seat in the House, sit at four per cent nationally, and 10 per cent in its heartland of B.C.


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