With the Conservatives ensnarled in the biggest political scandal in their seven years in government, a new poll suggests Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are en route to winning a massive majority in the next election.
More than four in 10 Canadians, 44%, said they would vote Liberal in the next federal election, according to latest Forum Poll for the National Post, compared to 27% support for the ruling Conservatives and 20% for the opposition NDP.
The Liberals would claim 192 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons with that support, leaving the Tories with 77 and dropping the NDP all the way back to 37.
The poll comes after Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigned when it was revealed he gave Senator Mike Duffy a $90,000 personal cheque to cover the senator’s housing expenses. The terms of the deal remain unknown, although the controversy does not appear to be dying as new documents show a Tory-dominated Senate committee whitewashed a report into Duffy’s expenses.
Harper has denied any knowledge of the deal and said he was “frustrated and sorry and angry” over what occurred.
But the repeated controversies within the senate — two Conservative senators, Duffy and Pamela Wallin, quit the caucus amid expense audits and a third, Sen. Patrick Brazeau, was booted out from caucus amid criminal charges — have hurt the prime minister, pollsters say.
“Mr. Harper’s very bad week has had a drastic effect on his approval and his party’s. It doesn’t help, when the Liberals are surging as they have been, to be stonewalling a controversy. Justin Trudeau needs only to listen to ['Art of war' author] Sun Tzu, and stay out of the way. Meanwhile, the NDP appear to have functionally ceded the role of the opposition to the Liberals in the public’s mind,” Forum Research President Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement.
The poll comes not long after the Liberals easily bested a former Conservative cabinet minister in a byelection. Yvonne Jones defeated incumbent Peter Penashue by 16 percentage points in the Labrador byelection, earlier this May.
Trudeau, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, is proving to be massively popular on a personal level, with his approval rating as high as Harper’s is low.
Trudeau’s net favourable rating [approval minus disapproval] is an impressive +23, with his 49% approval the highest ever registered for a party leader in a Forum poll.
Meanwhile, Harper’s net favourable rating is a dismal -35 and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is a mediocre +3.
Trudeau’s Liberals are drawing their support from women (48%), the least-wealthy Canadians (56%), Atlantic Canadians (57%) and both those who have seen the Conservative attack ads on Trudeau (48%) and the Liberals’ response ads (50%).
The public’s response to the Conservative attack ads — which show Trudeau performing a mock strip tease at a charity event and declare the new leader “in over his head” — suggest that the Tories have not been able to define their Liberal opponent the way they did with former leaders Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion.
The poll of 1,779 randomly-chosen Canadians was conducted by Forum Research between May 21 and May 22, 2013. Results based on the total sample are considered accurate +/- 2%, 19 times out of 20.