Opinions over what Trudeau should tackle first depend on where Canadians live, how they voted
November 2, 2015 – As Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau puts the final touches on a soon-to-be-revealed cabinet, Canadians are expressing confidence in his ability to lead – but are far less enthusiastic about some specific policy changes on which the Liberal Party leader campaigned.
Data from the latest public opinion survey from the Angus Reid Institute show that while the majority of Canadians believe he is up to the task and has done a good job of articulating his plans for the future, they are more ambivalent about certain aspects of a Trudeau future.
- Among the areas Canadians would like to see the incoming Trudeau government tackle first – the economy and economic-related issues take priority
- While there is majority support (83%) for tax cuts for middle income earners, the same cannot be said for a promised rollback of TFSA contribution limits
- More Canadians oppose than support the Liberal promise to re-settle 25,000 Syrian refugees in this country by the end of the year; a promise, that for logistical reasons, is already likely to be modified
The Election outcome: no “morning after” regrets:
Asked how they felt about the outcome of the election, more than half (57%) say they’re “pleased” with how things turned out. This sentiment is unsurprisingly most pronounced in BC (60%), Quebec (62%) and Atlantic Canada (70%).
What’s also notable about the result is that although they didn’t choose Liberal candidates on election night, a strong majority (71%) of those who voted NDP are nonetheless happy with the result. As has been canvassed in past ARI analyses, this finding speaks to a true motivation for change in government that eventually led many NDP supporters to vote Liberal on Oct. 19, trumping much of the disappointment that might be felt over the party’s third-place finish. The same cannot be said for Conservative voters however, as seen in the graph below:
Canadians’ agenda for the new government closely reflects the issues they identified as most important during the campaign.
As it did in every poll ARI conducted during the campaign, “the economy” leads the way, with more than a third of Canadians (34%) choosing it as one of the two priorities Justin Trudeau should focus on first.
Other economic issues – such as “jobs/unemployment” (25%), “cost of living” (20%), and “taxes” (16%) – also register high on the list.
The Trudeau Agenda:
Given the predominance of economic issues in the minds of the electorate, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the two most popular Trudeau campaign promises are economic in nature.
Signature elements of Trudeau’s tax policy – reducing the income tax rate for the middle class and increasing it for people who earn more than $200,000 per year – enjoy the support of the vast majority of Canadians, but not all of the Liberal leader’s economic promises are well-liked.
Summary tables for some key Trudeau campaign promises canvassed in this survey follow. For full results, including responses regarding support and opposition to all promises – see the comprehensive tables here.
More than four-in-five (83%) support cutting the income tax rate for middle income earners, and endorsement for this measure proposal is notably non-partisan. It reaches 80 per cent or higher among those who voted for each of the three major political parties Oct. 19.
Similarly, three-quarters (76%) of Canadians support Trudeau’s plan to create a new tax bracket – with a 33 per cent tax rate – for those earning $200,000 or more. As with the middle class tax promise, nearly half of Canadians (49%) say they support it strongly, and majorities of each major party’s voters support it. On this measure, however, the CPC majority is considerably narrower (56% support, compared to 87% of Liberals and 83% of New Democrats).
Not all of Trudeau’s economic promises enjoy support. Indeed, Canadians are now divided about the prospect of running $10 billion deficits for three years in order to invest $125 billion in infrastructure projects.
These findings are notably different from what ARI found when we asked a more abstract question about deficits and balanced budgets during the campaign. Asked to choose between the opposing statements “the federal government should spend more in the next year on jobs and growth, even if it means deficits in the short term” and “the federal government should balance the budget in the next year, even if it means raising taxes or cutting programs,” nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadians opted for the former.
The comparatively tepid support for Trudeau’s deficit plan may be a result of its concrete nature.
Support is even lower for another of Trudeau’s signature economic policies: rolling back the Conservative government’s increase to the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution limit.
As might be expected, nearly three-quarters of Conservative voters (75%) are opposed to this change. Liberals and New Democrats are more favourable toward the proposal, but not drastically so. Half (51%) of LPC and 38 per cent of NDP voters support rolling back the limit.
Support for this promise ranges from a low of 50 per cent in Alberta to a high of 68 per cent in Quebec, where a carbon cap-and-trade program is already in place.
The fact that at least half of the residents of each province supports such a meeting is notable. In April, an ARI poll found that three-quarters of Canadians (75%) supported a national cap-and-trade system, and 56 per cent supported a national carbon tax.
Though past ARI polls have shown strong support for Bill C-51 – they have also expressed a strong desire to see amendments that would provide more police oversight to this anti-terrorism law. In this instance we find Canadians support Trudeau’s proposal to modify the legislation more than two-to-one over those who oppose it. This promise also yields a higher level of uncertainty than many of the others canvassed in this survey.
Support for ending Canada’s combat role in the mission against ISIS is strongest in Quebec, where 60 per cent support Trudeau’s promise to do so. Support is weakest in Saskatchewan (40%) and Alberta (40%). Political polarization is apparent in responses to this question, as well, with CPC voters vehemently opposed (70% opposed, 23% in favour) and Liberal and NDP voters holding the opposite view.
Trudeau’s campaign promise to legalize marijuana receives support from a slim majority of Canadians, but it’s especially popular in British Columbia, where 63 per cent support it. By contrast, roughly half as many next door in Alberta say the same (37%).
The Liberal refugee resettlement plan is the second most-opposed idea covered in this survey (the most opposed is a promise to spend $380 million for the arts). Indeed, a plurality (34%) is “strongly opposed” to Trudeau’s Syrian resettlement plan.
Driving the opposition is the committed opposition of Conservative voters – 78 per cent of whom oppose the plan – and the lukewarm support of Liberal and NDP voters, who support the plan by narrow majorities of 55 and 53 per cent, respectively.
The level of support for such an inquiry is consistent with previous ARI studies conducted in September 2014 and in June 2015, which found 73 per cent and 80 per cent support, respectively. Support for this Trudeau proposal is weakest in Manitoba, where fewer than half (45%) say they favour an inquiry. Saskatchewan (55%) and Alberta (57%) also register lower rates of support for this proposal.
Conclusion: Canadians say Trudeau is, indeed, ready
So it’s clear not every policy plank (if indeed the incoming Liberal government actually acts on all of them) will be embraced as enthusiastically as others; Canadians have lingering doubts about some key platform items.
But if the results of the 42nd general election weren’t enough to demonstrate that the “Just Not Ready” CPC ad – one that turned into an earworm during the epic 11-week campaign – utterly failed to persuade Canadians, then consider the data from this Angus Reid Institute survey as Canadians were asked about Trudeau’s readiness:
Here again, we see near-inverse attitudes separating CPC and non-CPC voters. But the majority view is that Trudeau – and his team – have the seasoning to take on the next four years of government. That said, the proverbial jury is out on whether Canadians think Trudeau will ultimately be a successful prime minister. The most prevalent view, expressed by 45 per cent of respondents is that it’s just “too soon to tell”. While many withhold opinion, it is worth noting that people in this country begin with high hopes for the prime minister-designate, saying they think he’ll be successful three-to-one (38% vs 13%) over those who don’t.
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Image Credit – Canada.2020