Political Ads from Conservatives and NDP Divide Voters in Canada

The latest television political advertisements released in Canada have served to reinforce the negative connotations that the two main parties wish to maintain about their closest rival, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

The online survey of a representative national sample of 1,000 Canadian adults showed respondents the political ads that have been created by the two parties (“Mulcair’s NDP” by the Conservatives and “Stephen Harper’s solution” by the New Democrats), in the official language of their choice, and asked them several questions about the advertisements and specific statements made in them.

“Mulcair’s NDP”

After watching this ad from the Conservative Party, about two-in-five Canadians (41%) call it deceiving, but a similar proportion also brands it informative (39%). At least three-in-ten respondents think this ad is unfair (33%), useless (31%) and offensive (30%), and 26 per cent think it is untrue.

British Columbians (45%) are more likely to find the ad deceiving, while practically one-in-four Albertans (23%) call it fair and honest.

Respondents who voted for the Conservatives in the May 2011 federal election say the ad is informative (50%), true (33%) and fair (33%), while those who supported the NDP in the last ballot call it deceiving (59%), unfair (46%) and untrue (40%).

The views of Liberal Party voters are similar to those of NDP voters, with Grit supporters using words like deceiving (56%), unfair (47%), offensive (42%) and untrue (also 42%) to describe the ad.

“Stephen Harper’s solution”

After watching this ad from the New Democratic Party (NDP), more than a third of Canadians deem it informative (44%) and true (36%), but large proportions also consider it deceiving (35%) and unfair (28%).

Quebecers (48%) and British Columbians (46%) are more likely to find the ad informative, whereas Albertans are more likely to call it deceiving (46%) and unfair (40%).

Conservative voters in 2011 are clearly dismayed at the ad, with 62 per cent calling it deceiving and 42 per cent claiming it is untrue. Conversely, NDP voters describe the ad as true (55%) and informative (54%).

Once again, Liberal voters are closer to the NDP when assessing the advertisement, with most Grit voters finding the ad informative (56%) and true (49%).


The two main messages espoused in the ads resonated differently across the country. Quebecers (56%) and Atlantic Canadians (56%) agree with the view that the Conservatives have created the worst deficit in Canadian history, compared to just 39 per cent of respondents in Alberta. Conversely, the notion that the NDP means risky economic theories is shared by more than half of Albertans (54%), but only 36 per cent in Quebec.

Across the country, 36 per cent of respondents say they have confidence in Stephen Harper’s leadership. The Prime Minister’s highest rating is found in Alberta (55%) and the lowest in Quebec (24%).

The level of confidence in Thomas Mulcair’s leadership stands at 31 per cent nationally. The Official Opposition leader gets good marks in Quebec (52%) and low numbers in Alberta (15%).

Three-in-five Liberal voters (63%) believe the Conservatives have created the worst deficit in Canadian history, and 39 per cent side with the notion that the NDP means risky economic theories. Liberals are also more likely to express confidence in Mulcair’s leadership (34%) than in Harper’s (16%).


The ads definitely serve to both keep the supporters of the two main parties engaged, and irk their counterparts. New Democrats believe the Tory ad is unfair, and Conservatives feel the same way about the NDP ad.

Still, it’s important to look at how other past voters react to these advertisements. The views of supporters of the Liberal Party and the Green Party are similar to those of New Democrats, particularly on the deficit and on the low confidence expressed in Stephen Harper’s leadership.

Green voters hold the same level of confidence in Thomas Mulcair (63%) that New Democrats give their current leader.

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)

Methodology: From August 14 to August 15, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,000 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.