Election 44: Most view this vote as “more important” than 2019; personal stakes involved for three-quarters

by David Korzinski | August 26, 2021 9:00 pm

On issues, climate change, COVID-19 bolster Liberals; economic issues and transparency boost CPC

August 27, 2021 – As the verbal war of words heats up between party leaders over health care[1], Afghanistan, child care[2] and mandatory vaccination[3], new data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds the top issue identified by voters in driving their ballot choice is climate change.

Notwithstanding discussion about a wave of early summer heat in western Canada and wildfires in B.C.[4] and Ontario[5], the issue has yet to claim the a plurality of headlines during the two-week campaign.

Despite this, one-in-five Canadians (18%) say climate change is the most important issue to them when it comes to considering which party they will support in this federal election, while 13 per cent choose improving health care access and the amount of taxes they pay.

Are any parties poised to benefit based on voter priorities? Consider that two-in-five voters (41%) who say climate change is their top issue are also currently planning to vote for the incumbent Liberals, followed by the NDP at 36 per cent. Those who choose health care as their core concern give the Liberals an 11-point advantage.

But for Canadians preoccupied with financial issues, Erin O’Toole’s Conservative party has an edge[6]. A majority who say the amount of taxes they pay (50%) and management of the federal deficit (73%) are their top issues report that they intend to vote Conservative. O’Toole is also the choice (50%) for those who are most concerned with transparency and honesty in the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives appear to be the most galvanised of any party base. A majority (55%) of those who say they will be voting for O’Toole’s party say there is “a lot” at stake in this election, compared to 37 per cent of likely NDP and one-third of Liberal (33%) voters who say the same.

More Key Findings:


About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.



Part One: How important is this election?

Part Two: Key issues


Part One: How important is this election?

Held against the backdrop of skyrocketing COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant[8], and a lull in the uptake[9] of vaccinations by Canadians, voter turnout for this election will likely be affected by the pandemic. COVID-19 has already caused one voter outreach casualty: Elections Canada cancelled the vote on campus[10] program, which allowed post-secondary students to vote in their home ridings while away at school.

The results have been poor on the balance for the three provincial elections held since 2020. While voter turnout held steady[11] in New Brunswick, B.C. reported a historic low[12] and Nova Scotia reported its second lowest turnout ever[13].

Given the timing of the campaign was entirely at the discretion of the Trudeau government, it may be more difficult to convince voters this election is important enough to mark a ballot, pandemic notwithstanding.

Most say election more important than 2019, but said the same in 2019 of 2015

Still, a majority believe this election to be more important than 2019, including 35 per cent who say that it’s “way more important”:

That said, it must be noted that the same proportion said the same in 2019 of the 2015 election. Thus it may be more instructive to look at the intensity of voters’ current feelings. There has been an eight-point decrease in the number of Canadians saying this election is “way more important” than the prior, and a doubling of those who say that it is in fact, less important:

The belief of the gravity of this election is strongest among likely CPC voters, of whom four-in-five (77%) say this election is more important than 2019. Half of Liberal voters (52%) and three-in-five NDP voters (58%) believe the same.

But the strong level of belief from Conservative supporters represents a decrease from 2019, when nine-in-ten (88%) said that election was more important than the one in 2015. Meanwhile, Liberals are more likely – and NDP supporters are about as likely – to call the upcoming election more important than the preceding one when compared to 2019:

Two-in-five say ‘a lot’ at stake in election

And what about the impact on voters, personally? Two-in-five voters believe a lot is at stake for them on Sept. 20 whereas one-quarter believe there is nothing or not very much at stake:

As the political landscape becomes more favourable[14] for O’Toole and the Conservative party, it also appears the party’s supporters are the most galvanized. A majority of those who say they will vote for O’Toole say there is a lot at stake for them personally.

On the other end of the spectrum, Bloc Québécois voters are the least likely to believe the upcoming election will have a big impact on their life. Quebec will be a key battleground over the coming weeks, and Yves-Francois Blanchet will be hoping to convince his own party’s supporters of the election’s importance:

Younger men are more likely to believe a lot is at stake than younger women. Half of men aged 18 to 54 say there is a lot at stake in this election, while just one-third of women the same age say the same (see detailed tables[7]).

Ongoing pandemic has not increased stakes in election

Over the last two years, the top issues for voters have remained very similar[15] with one obvious exception: COVID-19. But while Trudeau says he called a fall election two years ahead of the set election date because he wants a mandate[16] to rebuild the country’s economy after the pandemic, the electorate does not feel the same sense of investment. The number of Canadians who believe that either a lot or a little is at stake for this election are very similar to the one called two years ago:

The lack of personal investment in the federal election has increased the most in Alberta, where double the number of people say there is not very much or nothing at stake compared to 2019 (9% to 20%). Those in Quebec continue to lead the country in believing there is not much or nothing at stake for them in the federal election (see detailed tables[7]).

Conservatives, as was the case in 2019, are most likely to say that there is a lot at stake for them in this election. Overall, more than half (55%) do so, compared to 34 per cent of those who intend to support the Liberals and 37 per cent of those who say they will vote for the NDP.

Among decided voters, there is also an increase in those saying not much or nothing is at stake compared to 2019. The increase is greatest among those who say they will vote for the Bloc:

Part Two: Key Issues

It has been a challenging start to the campaign for the Liberal party, who have had the embarrassing distinction of being the first party to have a tweet flagged for “manipulated media”[17] by Twitter. The video tweet, sent by Chrystia Freeland, attempted to paint O’Toole as pro-private health care while omitting context from the rest of the Conservative leader’s answer. Further, opinions of Trudeau are trending in the wrong direction[18].

Federal government transparency jumps to the forefront

The Twitter gaffe highlighted a critique often lobbed[19] at Trudeau[20] and the Liberals since they took power in 2015: the lack of transparency from his government. The issue is front of mind for voters. Three-quarters of Canadians rank transparency and honesty in the federal government a six or seven on a seven-point scale when it came to issues they care about personally. Health care, often an issue Canadians highlight as a top one facing the country, was second, while climate change, another consistently top issue, was fifth:

Older voters are the most likely to care about transparency and honesty from their federal government. Four-in-five men and women aged 55 and older rank it at a six or seven, and at least two-thirds of every other age-gender group do the same (see detailed tables[7]).

Climate change a top issue for all age-gender groups

The list of issues changes when respondents are asked to list just the single issue that will drive their vote in this campaign. Climate change jumps to first by that metric, with one-in-five Canadians (18%) saying it is the primary issue on which they will choose the party they’ll support:

Climate change ranks in the top five for every age-gender group. Women over the age of 34 rank improving health care access as their top issue, while men over the age of 34 are the only demographic to rank the deficit in the top five. Affordable housing is a top issue for younger age groups, while COVID-19 factors into the top five of every age-gender group except men aged 55 and older:

Taxes a top priority everywhere except Atlantic Canada

There is much regional variance among the top priorities. Taxes rank in the top three priorities of every province, except for those found in Atlantic Canada, while climate change is the top issue for B.C., Ontario, and Quebec. For Alberta and Manitoba, the continuing response to the pandemic doesn’t even rank in the top five:

Liberals strengthened by climate change, housing, COVID-19

In the first two weeks of the campaign, each of the major parties find themselves drawing voters with diverse motivations. For Liberals, three main areas provide impetus for voter support: climate change, access to health care, and COVID-19 response. Among those who say their top voting concern is this latter topic, 59 per cent say they will vote for the Liberals:

Conservatives bolstered by government transparency, economic issues

O’Toole’s Conservatives have their own strengths, which largely reside in economic issues. Those who choose their own taxes and the federal deficit as their key vote-motivator are overwhelmingly supportive of the CPC. The party also receives a 50 per cent vote share among those who are concerned about transparency and honesty in the federal government:

Housing affordability policy yet to sway voters to one side

The housing file is a key issue for young people looking to enter the market, and for homeowners who want to protect their assets. For voters who say this is the most important election issue, there is no clear choice on which party to support. Among the seven top issues, this is the most favourable for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP. That said, the NDP and Liberal Party split the vote equally among those who consider housing their top issue:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Aug. 20-23, 2021, among a representative randomized sample of 1,692 Canadian adults who are members of Angus[21] Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here[22].

For detailed results by top issue, click here.[23]

To read the full report including detailed tables and methodology, click here[24].

To read the questionnaire, click here[25].


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org[26] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org[27]

Image Credit – ID 160983823 © Lester69 | Dreamstime.com

  1. health care: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/otoole-private-health-care-1.6151566
  2. child care: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/child-care-conservatives-liberals-ndp-greens-bloc-1.6144317
  3. mandatory vaccination: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trudeau-deploys-vaccine-mandates-as-wedge-issue-in-canadas-election-11629889200
  4. B.C.: https://globalnews.ca/news/8139658/fewer-evacuation-orders-and-alerts-for-b-c-fires/
  5. Ontario: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/forest-fire-update-1.6150029
  6. Erin O’Toole’s Conservative party has an edge: https://angusreid.org/federal-election-economy/
  7. see detailed tables: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.27_election_importance_tables.pdf
  8. Delta variant: https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/vaccines-not-enough-to-stop-fourth-wave-of-covid-19-in-canada-experts-warn-1.5560876
  9. a lull in the uptake: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2021/08/11/news/canada-20-million-dose-covid-vaccine-stockpile
  10. the vote on campus: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/kitchener-waterloo/campus-university-elections-canada-vote-election-1.6152150
  11. held steady: https://atlantic.ctvnews.ca/despite-some-hiccups-first-pandemic-election-was-a-success-in-n-b-1.5106643
  12. historic low: https://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/elections-bc-reports-historic-low-voter-turnout-in-2020-provincial-election-1.5198358
  13. second lowest turnout ever: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/voter-turnout-provincial-election-1.6146321
  14. becomes more favourable: https://angusreid.org/federal-election-leaders-favourability-aug-2021/
  15. very similar: https://angusreid.org/federal-election-economy/
  16. a mandate: https://toronto.citynews.ca/video/2021/08/15/election-called-trudeau-asks-for-new-mandate/
  17. “manipulated media”: https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/federal-election-2021/trudeau-defends-liberal-campaign-video-flagged-by-twitter-as-manipulated-media-1.5557657
  18. wrong direction: https://angusreid.org/federal-election-leaders-favourability-aug-2021/
  19. often lobbed: https://globalnews.ca/news/7527805/justin-trudeau-transparency-balance/
  20. Trudeau: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/np-view-how-trudeaus-liberals-went-from-vowing-transparency-to-gagging-people
  21. Angus: http://www.angusreidforum.com
  22. click here: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.27_election_importance_tables.pdf
  23. click here.: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.27_election_importance_topissuetables.pdf
  24. click here: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.27_election_importance.pdf
  25. click here: https://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021.08.27_election_importance_qnaire.pdf
  26. shachi.kurl@angusreid.org: mailto:shachi.kurl@angusreid.org
  27. dave.korzinski@angusreid.org: mailto:dave.korzinski@angusreid.org

Source URL: https://angusreid.org/federal-election-top-issues/