O’Toole’s Blue Christmas: CPC leader’s popularity plummets post-election as party’s fortunes run flat

O’Toole’s Blue Christmas: CPC leader’s popularity plummets post-election as party’s fortunes run flat

Liberals enjoy five-point bump in vote intention; two-in-five approve of Trudeau’s performance

December 10, 2021 – Ottawa can be a cold place throughout much of the year. For Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole, the chill is being exacerbated by changes in the political climate.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute show Canadians – including those who supported the CPC in September’s federal election – have cooled on O’Toole significantly.

Among past CPC voters favourability towards the leader has plummeted faster – 22 points over two months, from 81 per cent at the beginning of October to 59 per cent at the end of November.

O’Toole’s favourability among all Canadians, which peaked at 38 per cent in the days before the election, has dropped to a new low of 24 per cent.

Facing internal strife and scrutiny over the vaccination status of his caucus, the embattled Conservative chief is today less popular than former leader Andrew Scheer was when he was forced out of the job two years ago.

On the opposite side of the Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal party has enjoyed a modest bump in vote intention since September, rising five points to 35 per cent

However, after failing to secure a majority in back-to-back elections, speculation has begun about Trudeau’s own future as leader of the party, and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, named this week to Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women List, has been suggested as a potential replacement. Trudeau, for his part, has said he intends to be at the party’s helm for the next election.

Whoever leads the party into the next election, the Liberals currently hold a six-point advantage in vote intention over the rival Conservatives after a hotly contested campaign two-and-a-half months ago.

More Key Findings:

  • One-in-three strongly disapprove of Trudeau, while six per cent strongly approve of him.
  • O’Toole favourability is lower among Conservatives now than Scheer was at same time post-election in 2019.
  • Liberal support is buoyed by women while the CPC suffer from the shift to the PPC among younger male voters.


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: Taking stock of leadership

  • O’Toole’s favourability plummets post-election

  • Two-in-five approve of Trudeau

Part Two: End of year vote intention

  • Age and gender

  • Region

  • One-in-five Bloc, NDP voters say they’d place vote elsewhere next time


Part One: Taking stock of leadership

O’Toole’s favourability plummets post-election

While NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet have both seen their favourability ratings hold steady in the wake of the last federal election, CPC leader Erin O’Toole has seen his plummet as he reckons with dissent within his party.

Efforts to rebrand the Conservative Party as more progressive are, in particular, facing resistance and have reignited old ideological and regional schisms. Debates over whether O’Toole should step down as leader that had been percolating since the election took on new meaning recently when Sen. Denise Batters – who was kicked out of the of the national caucus by O’Toole – launched a petition to expedite the leadership review process.

Party insiders have hinted that those who want O’Toole ousted are reaching out to the rank-and-file in an effort to curry favour in preparation for a possible leadership contest. For his part, O’Toole has vowed to keep fighting. This at a time when his favourability has dropped to 24 per cent – from a peak of 38 per cent in September:

The most immediate challenge for O’Toole appears to be in stabilizing his would-be base of supporters. While his favourability among Conservative voters rose to a peak of 91 per cent during the campaign, it has dropped to 59 per cent in the subsequent months:

This diminished internal standing is unique to O’Toole and CPC voters. Supporters of other major federal parties are much more likely to hold their respective leaders in higher esteem:

*Trudeau is measured by approval rather than favourability

Two years ago, former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer found himself in a similar position to where O’Toole is today. Much like the current CPC leader, Scheer won the popular vote in the 2019 federal election, but his party failed to form government. However, post-election, Scheer heard from a louder chorus of voices calling for him to step down as leader. His hand was perhaps forced in December 2019, when CTV News reported that Conservative party money helped pay for Scheer’s children’s private school in Ottawa.

Days before Scheer stepped down as leader, he held a higher favourability among CPC voters than O’Toole does now. Four-in-five Conservative supporters said then they held favourable views of Scheer; comparatively, two-thirds say the same of O’Toole now:

*O’Toole number rebased to remove ‘Don’t know’ responses

Two-in-five approve of Trudeau

After failing to win a majority mandate in back-to-back elections, there has been a shift in conversation around Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals – speculation has increased as to whether or not Trudeau will lead the party into the next election. Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair believes that Finance Minister, and deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland could be next in line for the job if Trudeau were to step down. Her credentials were buoyed this week when she was named to Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, the only Canadian who made the cut. Trudeau, for his part, has been emphatic that he plans to continue as leader.

In the meantime, Trudeau begins another term as prime minister dealing with an increasingly acrimonious trade relationship with President Joe Biden and the United States, rampant inflation, and a concerning new variant of COVID-19.

Now approaching three months since the federal election, two-in-five (38%) Canadians say they approve of the prime minister. They remain outnumbered by the more than half (54%) of Canadians who disapprove of him. Both numbers are largely unchanged from data collected last month:

The disapproval is felt much stronger than the approval for Trudeau. One-third say they strongly disapprove of the prime minister, contrasted by the one-in-20 (6%) who say they have a highly positive appraisal of him:

Part Two: End of year vote intention

When it comes to vote intention, the number of those who say they will support the Liberal party come the next federal election has rebounded by five points since September and now sits at 35 per cent. While the CPC’s popularity has not nose-dived to the same extent as O’Toole’s personal favourability, the percentage who intend to vote for the Conservative party is down three points to 29 per cent.

Stasis is the story of the other federal political parties, all of which have not travelled far from their September polling numbers:

Age and gender

Each party’s demographic base of support remains consistent with the picture heading into voting day in September. Men, and especially those over the age of 54, prefer the Conservatives to the Liberals, while women, including half (48%) of those aged 55 and older, say the opposite. Women aged 18 to 34 remain the only demographic of whom a plurality say they will vote for the NDP in an upcoming election:


The Liberals continue to enjoy strong support in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec, outpacing the percentage of votes the party received in September in the latter province’s case. The Conservatives’ stronghold remains in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where half of decided voters say they would vote for O’Toole’s party. Those in B.C. are evenly split between the three major parties:

One-in-five Bloc, NDP voters say they’d place vote elsewhere next time

There has been little movement among those who supported one of the four major parties in the last election. Bloc and NDP supporters are the most likely to say they will switch to another party in the next election; in each case, one-in-five say they intend to vote for a different party. Nine-in-ten Liberals and Conservatives plan to stick with the party they supported in September in a future election:

Survey Methodology:

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from Nov. 26-29, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 2,005 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2 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.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image – Erin O’Toole/Flickr


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

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

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