Can Liberal government generate unity with policy agenda?

Can Liberal government generate unity with policy agenda?

By Dave Korzinski – Research Director

However uninspiring the result on Sept. 20, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have another shot at governing Canadians after the 44th Canadian federal election, last week swearing in their ministers and shuffling their cabinet.

For the second consecutive election, the party failed to generate enough support to form a majority or even win the most votes from the electorate. While Trudeau has claimed that the country doesn’t appear divided to him, and that the result of the election is a “clear mandate” for his party, others see the result as evidence that Canadians are deeply divided and having difficulty finding a party or leader to rally behind. Further displaying the lack of cohesion in the Canadian population, recent Angus Reid Institute analysis found Canadians clear that if they had the choice, they would give the Liberals even less control, preferring an election result using a proportional distribution of seats, rather than first-past-the-post.

Representing the entire country with support from just 33 per cent of voters will pose challenges. But there are areas where the Liberal promises appeal to significant segments of more than the party’s vote base when a new parliamentary session begins November 22.

The Institute put a number of high-profile Liberal campaign promises to Canadians and some earned more broad-based appeal than others. Perhaps more notably, just nine per cent of Canadians say there is nothing in the Liberal to-do list that interests them. Even 83 per cent of Conservative voters chose at least one policy which they hoped to see implemented (see detailed tables).

The lowest hanging fruit in terms of preference from Canadians in the promised Liberal agenda is increasing taxation on banks and insurance companies earning over a billion dollars in profits. This after RBC posted a third quarter profit of more than $4.3 billion. The Liberal promise during the campaign was to raise the rate of taxation on these profits from 15 per cent to 18 per cent, which would generate an estimated $2.5 billion for government coffers. Two-in-five Canadians choose this:

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The proposal generates the highest level of interest of all policies, and speaks in particular to lower-income households, as well as New Democrats and Bloc supporters.

Foreign home buy ban

Housing prices continue to rise, driven by red hot markets in Vancouver and Toronto and spilling over into previously less affected communities in many parts of the country. With numerous Canadians priced out of home ownership and looking for answers, a Liberal platform promise of temporarily banning foreign home buyers resonates with one-third of the population. The Conservatives proposed a similar ban, while the NDP proposed a new tax on purchases. Notably enthusiasm levels are the same in urban and rural areas, and this policy is the most popular among Conservative voters of those presented in the survey. The Liberals also promised to ban blind-bidding, and to invest more in housing supply:

Vaccine mandate

The forthcoming Liberal government has already announced mandatory vaccinations for federally regulated travel, including planes, trains, and ferries, which will take effect on Oct. 30. This policy is the third most enthusiastically received and will likely earn the new government some early good will, as Canadians overwhelmingly support the idea. Two other priorities – $10-per-day childcare and the creation of a net-zero emission electricity grid by 2035 – will be much heavier lifts and will come with a much higher price tag.

NDP cooperation could be key fulfilling mandate

The Liberals will need help to pass major initiatives, and as has been the case over the past two years, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh will hold considerable negotiating power.

The Angus Reid Institute asked Canadians which NDP policies – if any – they would like to see the Liberals collaborate on in order to get the government’s own agenda moved forward. Among the NDP promises, a price cap on cell phone and internet bills, national dental care, universal pharmacare, and a wealth tax, are all chosen by approximately one-in-three:

Capping cell phone and internet bill prices is preferred by Canadians with higher household incomes, while those on the lower end of the income spectrum are more likely to prioritize national dental care and increasing the tax rate on higher income households:

Liberal supporters themselves have equal interest in the four top options, while Conservative and BQ voters are most likely support a price cap on internet and mobile phone providers. If NDP voters had their pick, the party’s signature wealth tax would be the top negotiating point:

After swearing in ministers on Oct. 26, parliament will return to sit on Nov. 22.