Most say Trudeau government handling COVID-19 crisis well, but Liberals, CPC remain in virtual tie on vote intent

Canadians equally divided over whether they approve or disapprove of prime minister

November 10, 2020 – Promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer, of which Canada has already purchased 20 million doses, has been met with ebullience on Bay Street and cautious enthusiasm in Ottawa.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the development a potential “light at the end of the tunnel” he’s also underscored the end of the pandemic remains out of sight.

As Canadians head into what is shaping up to be a long and challenging winter, the latest study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds most say the federal government continues to handle the COVID-19 pandemic well. Two-thirds say the government has done a good job – a level relatively unchanged since late March.

Further, with opposition criticism over the WE Charity scandal on an apparent hiatus, Trudeau’s personal approval has recovered to 49 per cent, having sat in the mid-40’s over the summer.

That said, the vote intention picture remains extremely competitive. Currently 35 per cent of Canadians say they would cast a ballot for the incumbent Liberals if an election were held, while a near identical 33 per cent say they would support the Conservative Party. One-in-five (18%) prefer the New Democratic Party, while the Bloc Quebecois remain competitive in Quebec.

More Key Findings:

  • Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole’s favourable rating has increased six points since early September (30% to 36%), but his unfavourable rating has increased nine (31% to 40%).
  • NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is viewed favourably by 49 per cent of Canadians and unfavourably by 41 per cent. New Green Party leader Annamie Paul remains relatively unknown among the public (50% say this).
  • COVID-19 and healthcare are chosen by a wide margin as the top two issues facing Canada currently. Climate change and the economy are atop the second tier of important issues, but well behind the top two.

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: Vote Intention

Part Two: Handling COVID-19

Part Three: Leadership

  • Canadians split on Trudeau’s performance
  • O’Toole yet to generate momentum


Part One: Vote intention

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the first world leader to call and congratulate President Elect Joe Biden on his victory in the American election. The two leaders discussed a shared commitment to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing challenge of climate change.

While the next U.S. President is most likely to be sworn in on January 20, 2021, Trudeau and his Liberal government govern with a minority mandate at home. This situation, and the recent successes of incumbent governments in three provincial elections during the pandemic, have led some to suggest that the Liberal Party may welcome an election.

That said, the Liberals remain neck-and-neck with the opposition Conservatives when it comes to current vote intention, with roughly one-third of voters backing each of them. The NDP continues to have the support of almost one-in-five (18%), while the Green Party trails at 5 per cent.

The Liberals hold an important eight-point advantage in Ontario over the Conservatives, and a five-point lead over the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec. The CPC leads in B.C. by nine points over the Liberals and NDP, respectively tired at 28 per cent each:

Demographic differences play a role as well. The CPC leads among men of all ages, while the same is true of the Liberals among women. The NDP continues to be a significant factor among younger voters:

Part Two: Handling COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic, health care, the environment, and the economy, continue to top the list of issues about which Canadians care most:

While cases surge to record levels across the country, the federal government’s handling of COVID-19 continues to be viewed favourably. Two-thirds (65%) say the Liberals are doing a good job overall, which has been the case since late March:

However, impressions do vary quite a bit in different parts of the country. In Atlantic Canada, the vast majority hold a positive view, with nearly four-in-five (78%) saying the government is handling the pandemic well. Conversely, residents of Alberta and Saskatchewan are almost evenly split on whether the government is doing a good job of tackling the virus or a bad one.

Starker differences emerge when looking at political alignment. An overwhelming majority (95%) of past Liberal voters, along with four-in-five past NDP voters (82%), view the federal response to the pandemic positively, while just one-in-three (32%) past Conservative voters feel the same. Those who supported the Bloc Quebecois are more evenly split, with a narrow majority (55%) saying the response has been a good one.

Part Three: Leadership

Canadians split on Trudeau’s performance

Trudeau currently holds the approval of half (49%) of Canadians, representing an even split in public opinion. Notably, one-in-three Canadians express strong disapproval of the Prime Minister, three times the number that say they strongly approve of his performance:

The Prime Minister’s approval has risen five points from July, when it dropped amidst the WE Charity Scandal and its associated conflicts of interest:

O’Toole yet to generate momentum

Looking at the rest of the federal party leaders and their favourability, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole is the only leader for whom more Canadians hold an unfavourable view than favourable. Half of Canadians (49%) view NDP leader Jagmeet Singh favourably, while newly elected Green Party leader Annamie Paul is relatively unknown, with 50 per cent of residents saying they have no opinion of her yet. Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet holds the highest favourability rating, though among residents of Quebec only:

*favourability asked only in Quebec

Erin O’Toole had just won his party’s leadership race when the Institute last asked for Canadians’ opinions of their national leaders. Since then, his favourability has increased by six points to 36 per cent, but his unfavourable rating has increased nine. O’Toole tested positive for the coronavirus in September but has since recovered. A considerable number of Canadians have yet to form an opinion of the CPC leader:

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s favourability rating has increased slightly since September, although it remains lower than it was in the final days of the 2019 federal election:

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

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodologyclick here.

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image – State Chancellery / Flickr


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821

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