Trudeau’s approval: how does it compare to other prime ministers over the last five decades?

by Angus Reid | May 19, 2023 10:10 pm

Two-in-five currently approve of PMJT, though the same number “strongly disapprove” of his performance

May 20, 2023 – Assessing history can be difficult in real time, with recency bias and current controversies often clouding the long view. A new study from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute digs deep into the public opinion archives[1] to measure how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau compares to his predecessors as he approaches the eight-year mark of his time as prime minister.

Trudeau’s 40 per cent approval rate is higher than many of his peers at a similar point in service, but well behind the most popular PM of the last five decades.

In fact, only Prime Minister Jean Chrétien surpasses Trudeau since the 1970s, doing so by a considerable margin. Chrétien maintained a 54 per cent[2] approval in December 2001, eight full years after his election.

Trudeau’s current approval mark is four-points higher than former Prime Minister Stephen Harper[3] (36%) and eight points higher than his father[4] Pierre Elliot Trudeau (32%), both of whom had their approval measured in the eighth year of their tenure by Gallup Canada.

For the younger Trudeau, his current level of approval (40%) has been consistent over the past year. So too is the number who “strongly disapprove” (40%) of his performance. The largest demographic dividing line continues to be gender. Approval among men comes in at just over one-in-three (36%), with consistency across age groups. Women offer approval at a rate of more than two-in-five (43%), rising to 48 per cent among women over the age of 54.

Trudeau’s base remains solid, though not a monolith – as 81 per cent of past Liberal voters offer him praise – and approval hovers around a majority level (53%) among past NDP voters, whose party has been supporting the Liberals in a supply and confidence agreement since the 2021 election. Meantime, disapproval among 2021 Conservative voters is near unanimous at 90 per cent.


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.



Tracking and politics

Few seasons come and go in politics without significant events or controversy, but even so, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had a particularly busy spring. The launching of an investigation into foreign election interference, scrutiny over a $160,000 vacation to Jamaica, a divisive budget re-forecast, and the leaking of an admission that Canada will likely never meet its NATO obligations, have had many Canadians talking about Trudeau.

Nonetheless, more than halfway through the second year of the latest Trudeau minority government, opinions of Trudeau have remained consistent since last spring. Two-in-five (40%) Canadians approve of Trudeau while more than half (55%) do not. Dating back to last March, little has changed. Trudeau’s approval rose above majority levels during the early days of his COVID-19 management, and has declined since:

Notably, as many Canadians strongly disapprove of Trudeau (40%) as approve of him either strongly or moderately (40%). Nearly all past CPC voters disapprove of the prime minister (90%) with 81 per cent voicing this strongly. Two-in-five past NDP voters disapprove of Trudeau, while a considerable number of past Bloc Québécois voters join them:

*smaller sample size, interpret with caution

Age and gender

Trudeau’s approval rating among women over the age of 54 has been a source of stability throughout his time in office. Over approximately the past year, his approval with that group as well as young women is unchanged, though it has dropped four points among women between the ages of 35 and 54. A low point for Trudeau among young women (and young men in a subsequent graph), amid COVID-19 concerns and inflationary pressures, appears to be November 2021:

Men of all ages have shown relative long-term consistency in their views of Trudeau, though he has risen and fallen and risen again in their eyes at different times. Compared to the beginning of 2021 only 35- to 54-year-old’s opinions have more permanently shifted, dropping nine points from 43 per cent to 34 per cent:

Historical comparisons

Trudeau is now among the middle of the pack in terms of length of service as prime minister. Of the 23 people who have held the position, Trudeau’s duration in office ranks 10th all time, approaching eight years this November. In terms of approval, Trudeau surpasses past Conservative Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney[5], as well as his father, former Liberal leader Pierre Elliot Trudeau, at more or less the same point in their respective prime ministerial careers, but remains well short of the 54 per cent approval Jean Chrétien was given in his eighth year.


The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from May 8 – 10, 2023 among a representative randomized sample of 1,603 Canadian adults who are members of Angus[6] 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. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.


Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693[7] @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821[8]


Image Credit – Flickr: European Parliament

  1. public opinion archives:
  2. maintained a 54 per cent:
  3. Stephen Harper:
  4. his father:
  5. Brian Mulroney:
  6. Angus:

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