PM on the naughty list? Trudeau approval drops below 50 per cent for first time since election

The Prime Minister remains more popular than Andrew Scheer and Jagmeet Singh, however

December 15, 2017 – As Canadians bask in the warmth of goodwill and cheer over the holiday season, bundling up across the country to stay warm, it may feel a touch colder at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.

For the first time since the 2015 election, the Angus Reid Institute’s quarterly analysis of polling data finds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval below one-half. Further, half of Canadians (49%) now say they disapprove of the PM.

This finding comes after a season that has seen Trudeau rebuffed in his efforts to secure a trade deal with China and repeatedly forced to defend Finance Minister Bill Morneau against accusations of unethical behaviour and conflicts of interest. The season has also seen his government secure an agreement with the provinces on marijuana taxation and a pair of byelection victories for his Liberal Party in ridings vacated by Conservative Party MPs.

Amid this mixed political climate, Trudeau’s approval rating – though diminished – remains higher than those either of Conservative leader Andrew Scheer or New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh.

However, his disapproval rating is also higher than those of his opponents, and more Canadians say it is “time for a change” in government (46%) than say Trudeau’s Liberals should be re-elected (32%).

View our Trudeau Tracker here for overall and provincial trends

More Key Findings:trudeau approval

  • Trudeau’s approval rating has fallen by at least 10 percentage points across all regions and age groups since he became Prime Minister, and has fallen dramatically in certain regions – notably Quebec and Atlantic Canada – in the last 12 months as well
  • New NDP leader Singh debuts with the approval of 39 per cent of Canadians and the disapproval of 33 per cent (28% are unsure about him). Canadians have a slightly less favourable view of Scheer (35% approve, 36% disapprove, and 29% are unsure)
  • “The economy” (chosen by 25% of respondents), “the deficit/government spending” (25%), and “health care” (24%) top Canadians’ list of the most important issues facing the country today



  • Fewer than half approve of PM

  • Government spending a top concern

  • Trudeau still most-approved-of federal leader

  • More say it’s time for a change than not

Fewer than half approve of PM

There’s good news and bad news for Prime Minister Trudeau as Parliament heads into the holiday recess. Recent weeks saw his Liberal Party notch victories in by-elections in Quebec and British Columbia – flipping a pair of Conservative seats into their column. But the Prime Minister’s personal approval has dropped below 50 per cent for the first time.

trudeau approval

Some of these results appear particularly dramatic when considering the starting point for the Prime Minister in each region of the country. Shortly after the election in 2015, Trudeau accrued firm support in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. He has dropped significantly in all of these regions, and his slide in the Atlantic provinces has mostly occurred in the last 12 months, as seen in the graph that follows.

trudeau approval

His approval remains net positive in Ontario, but has dropped close to the 50/50 mark there, as well as in BC, Manitoba, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Notably, though his approval has fallen 23 percentage points overall in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2015 – more than in any other region – he still retains the support of more than six-in-ten in that province:

trudeau provincial approval

Trudeau also hits a low with Millennials this quarter. For the first time among this influential 18-34-year-old age demographic, his approval is below six-in-ten, at 56 per cent. His slide in approval among Canadians over 55 continues as well:

trudeau approval

Government spending a top concern

The slide in Trudeau’s approval rating comes in a quarter during which Finance Minister Bill Morneau has faced an ethics investigation related to shares of his family’s company that he did not place into a blind trust when he became Finance Minister. Opposition MPs filed a conflict of interest complaint against him after the government introduced changes to pension rules that would potentially have benefitted him and the company.

Trudeau has defended Morneau against calls for his resignation, accusing his opponents of “hiding behind parliamentary privilege” to make libelous claims about the Finance Minister’s behaviour.

While Morneau may have the PM’s vote of confidence, a recent Angus Reid Institute poll found Canadians less than pleased with his performance. Of all the federal cabinet ministers, the Finance Minister was the one most disproportionately seen as doing a “bad job.”

Related – The Good, the Bad and the Unknown: Canadians assess cabinet performance at the two-year mark

Another area of concern? Public spending. In the quarter that saw this government criticized over the $5.6 million price-tag of a new skating rink on Parliament Hill, one-in-four Canadians (25%) list “the deficit/government spending” as one of the two most important issues facing the country. This is tied with “the economy” more broadly for the top spot on Canadians’ list of issues, but the two topics have been trending in opposite directions since early 2016:

Against this backdrop, Canadians’ views on the economy – at both the national and household levels – remain largely unchanged since last quarter.

Some four-in-ten Canadians (42%) say they are satisfied with the state of the economy in Canada today, while 51 per cent are dissatisfied. These numbers roughly mirror those recorded in each wave of this survey in 2017.

trudeau approval

Likewise, more Canadians say their standard of living has worsened than improved over the last 12 months, and more expect it to worsen over the next 12 than expect it to improve. The rates at which respondents express these views remain consistent with historical findings, and the largest response in each case is to say things have stayed – or will stay – the same, as seen in the following graphs:

economic wellbeing

economic wellbeing

Trudeau still most-approved-of federal leader

While Trudeau’s approval is dropping, a different issue is hindering Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Roughly three-in-ten Canadians say the still don’t know what to think of the new leader, while a near identical number approve and disapprove of him at this point.

andrew scheer approval

New NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who was elected at the party’s convention in October, draws the approval of 39 per cent of Canadians. One-third (33%) say they disapprove of Singh, and more than one-in-four (28%) have not yet formed an opinion.

scheer singh approval

*N=1,044, see summary tables at the end of this release for greater detail


More say it’s time for a change than not

A trend that emerged in 2017 continues to close out the year. That is, a growing percentage of Canadians saying they believe it is “time for a change” in government. This quarter’s data is not as dramatic as September’s, but it’s worth noting that the proportion of Canadians saying it’s time for a change versus those who say it isn’t has held firm. Almost half (46%) say they would make a change, while one-in-three (32%) say that they wouldn’t. Roughly one-in-five say that they aren’t sure at this point, just under two years away from the next scheduled election.

trudeau approval

Calls for change are strongest in the areas where Trudeau’s approval is lowest – Saskatchewan and Alberta. Nearly two-thirds in these provinces (60% and 64%, respectively) say it’s time for a change. That said, it’s worth noting that more respondents say it’s time for a change than say it isn’t across all of the provinces canvassed, except Newfoundland and Labrador (see summary tables at the end of this report).


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.


Click here for the full report including tables and methodology


Shachi Kurl, Executive Director: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

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