A year and a half into Justin Trudeau’s term as Prime Minister, a study shows he continues to have the approval of more than half of Canadians.
A new Angus Reid Institute poll of more than 5,400 Canadians, conducted from June 5 to 12, found 54% approved of Trudeau, with 37% saying he makes the best prime minister right now.
However, the new Conservative Party leader, Andrew Scheer, is now seen as more suitable to handle the economic concerns of the nation.
According to the study, 37% of respondents were unfamiliar with Scheer, but those who did know of him believed in him when it comes to the economy.
Some 30% of respondents said Scheer is better suited to handling the economy – five points higher than the number choosing Trudeau.
The study also found that if an election were to be held today, voter intention suggests there would be a very tight gap between the parties.
When respondents were asked to choose their top two issues facing the nation today, the economy topped the list, with other economy-related topics following, such as the deficit, unemployment and taxes.
A lot of these responses sprung from the Conservative-inclined Prairie provinces. However, a majority from Ontario also preferred Scheer on the economy. British Columbians were nearly evenly divided.
While campaigning, Trudeau said he planned to run the government on a budget deficit of up to $10 billion for each of its first three years.
A recent study by the conservative Fraser Institute now suggests the government will run a deficit of roughly three times the planned amount for 2017/18.
This may have led to an increasing percentage of Angus Reid study respondents choosing the deficit as one of the most important issues facing the country.
The chance to cast your vote in a federal election is still two years away, but for the first time since February 2016, the number of study respondents who believe it’s time for a change has taken the lead slightly.
Despite the apparent concern with Trudeau’s Liberals, encouraging trends are emerging, according to the Angus Reid study.
The number of respondents who said their standard of living was worse now than a year ago is at the lowest level recorded since 2010.
In fact, looking ahead, it seems Canadians are slightly more optimistic. One in five respondents said they expected their situation to improve over the next year.
The most negative sentiment surfaced in Saskatchewan, where budget balancing efforts led to the provincial government cutting spending and raising taxes by $900 million.
Some 37% of the Saskatchewan residents polled said they would be worse off by June 2018.
Meanwhile, 35% of the residents surveyed in Newfoundland and Labrador–the province with the highest unemployment rate in the country–also voiced significant pessimism.
The Prime Minister also seems to have regained some support in British Columbia, which was apparently lost when he approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project.
The issue of the pipeline currently rests at the provincial level, as Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and BC’s provincial leaders spar over the future of the project.
Meanwhile, in British Columbia, Trudeau seems to be bouncing back, up 7 points to 58% in this quarter, according to Angus Reid.
While respondents see Scheer as having an advantage when it comes to handling the economy, with other key tasks the Prime Minister was still favoured.
Those Canadians surveyed had the most confidence in Trudeau when it came to foreign affairs, an issue he has made a keystone of his government.
Another area Trudeau leads in, according to the opinions of Angus Reid respondents, is health care, also a top priority for those polled.
As well, he has the strongest hold on handling the environment, and maintaining good relations with the provinces, according to respondents.