Despite the controversy surrounding Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s relationships with the WE Charity, Justin Trudeau remains favourable, as: “more than half (51%) of those with a preference say he would make the best Prime Minister of current party leaders” according to an Innovative Research Group (IRG) poll.
- According to Angus Reid Institute (ARI), 56% of those polled said: “the scandal will ultimately not be the issue that threatens the viability of Trudeau’s minority.”
In Short: Justin Trudeau’s popularity is resilient in the face of controversy. A plurality of polled voters would still support the Liberal Party if an election were called, despite dropping approval ratings. Polling results suggest similarities between the unfolding WE controversy and the SNC-Lavelin Affair, even in the tumultuous COVID-19 era, might allow for insight as to what we might expect a public response to look like moving forward.
Compared to the SNC-Lavelin Affair:
According to ARI: “Engagement with the WE scandal ranks on par with the attention to the first weeks of the SNC-Lavalin scandal in 2019”. For comparison:
- The Trudeau government’s approval ratings in December 2018 prior to the scandal were 35% Approve, 58% Disapprove, and 7% Don’t Know in December.
- The SNC-Lavelin Affair kicked-off in February 2019.
- The Trudeau government’s approval ratings in March 2019 were 33% Approve, 65% Disapprove, 3% Don’t Know – a 7% increase in disapproval.
- Trudeau’s disapproval peaked at 65% slowly diminishing to 61% in December 2019, then shifting quite rapidly as COVID unfolded.
- Following the WE revelations, within a 2 week period in July, Trudeau’s disapproval rating jumped 6%, comparably to the SNC-Lavelin Affair.
Regardless of The Drop, Trudeau Remains Popular:
According to IRG, Trudeau remains the most popular Prime Minister, with 51% of respondents favouring him over a Conservative (19%) or NDP (18%) leader.
IRG’s data suggests that if an election were called today the Liberals would hold at least an 11-point lead among both decided and uncertain respondents.
So, Who Cares?
According to ARI:
“Lost approval comes primarily from those who voted Liberal in the last election. Four-in-five among this group still approve of the Prime Minister, however, this represents a nine-point drop from just two weeks ago.”
The Bottom Line: Whether the unfolding controversy of the WE scandal will impact Justin Trudeau’s long-term popularity remains to be seen. We saw with the SNC-Lavelin affair that Trudeau’s popularity was reduced, but he still managed to hold onto Government. Speculation will continue nonetheless – and whether this leads to a Liberal Party helmed by someone other than Trudeau, or whether Trudeau remains in the leadership position is uncertain.