Canadians split on whether Trudeau government is spending their money wisely

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Canadians are seemingly happy with how Justin Trudeau’s government is managing Canada’s relationship with the United States and the rest of the world, a new poll suggests, but they aren’t so sure that their money is being spent wisely.

One year after being swept into office with a strong majority mandate, the Trudeau Liberals have the approval (strongly or somewhat) of exactly 50 per cent of Canadians when it comes to the management of federal coffers.

The other half of respondents to a recent Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Global News were in the other camp, saying they disagree with how their hard-earned dollars are being used.

“Compared to other governments I’ve seen, on economic management I would describe these numbers not as poor, but as ambiguous,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

“In other words, the public is waiting to see what (the government’s) plan is.”

READ MORE: Nearly two-thirds of Canadians approve of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government

Ipsos presented the poll respondents with a series of 17 policy areas, ranging from foreign relations to First Nations, asking them whether they agreed or disagreed (strongly or somewhat) with the government’s performance on each file.

No approval rating dropped below 50 per cent, but the scores were weakest in economic areas like the spending of public money (the aforementioned 50/50 split), managing the federal budget (54 per cent approval) and creating jobs (51 per cent approval).

Bricker said that suggests Canadians are taking a “wait and see” approach on these issues. Backing up that assumption, he added, is the fact that within the approval camps, the portion of respondents who approved “strongly” of the Liberals’ performance on economic files was only 9 to 15 per cent. The rest only approved “somewhat.”

“There’s a lot of ‘I hope so’ in these numbers,” Bricker said.

WATCH: Is Justin Trudeau in for a tough autumn?

The government fared significantly better in areas like managing Canada’s relationship with Washington (75 per cent approval), managing Canada’s international reputation (73 per cent approval), keeping Canadians safe (68 per cent approval) and addressing issues linked to First Nations communities (65 per cent approval).

There may still be an element of style-over-substance at work here, Bricker said, with the prime minister’s warm welcome on the international scene and “sunny-ways” vibe still dominating the public consciousness.

“Actually, I think the word I’m looking for is shallowness,” he said. “There’s kind of this really positive buzz around the government, but when you go into the detail of what they’ve committed to, there’s no strong, well-educated, convinced group of people who are behind them.

“If you ask people what exactly we’ve done, their answer would probably be, ‘Well, people seem to be really glad to see us. Canada’s back.””

Blind approval?

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, the poll results released on Tuesday also showed an apparent disconnect between how much Canadians know about the government’s specific priorities, and how much they approve of them.

READ MORE: Liberals asking public’s opinion on number of issues, but are they listening?

Only about half of respondents (53 per cent) agreed that they had a “clear idea of the priorities of the Trudeau government.” Despite this, two out of three respondents (63 per cent) agreed that “the Trudeau government has great ideas” for how to improve Canada.

“People voted for change. They didn’t vote for anything really specific in terms of change,” Bricker said.

“(The public) is sitting back a little bit and saying, ‘OK, show me.’ So great first year, the second year will be the test.”

 

Here’s the full list of results for the 17 policy areas:

Managing Canada’s relationship with the U.S.:

  • 75 per cent approve (27 per cent strongly/48 per cent somewhat)
  • 25 per cent disapprove (9 per cent strongly/15 per cent somewhat)

Managing Canada’s international reputation:

  • 73 per cent approve (27 per cent strongly/46 per cent somewhat)
  • 27 per cent disapprove (11 per cent strongly/16 per cent somewhat)

Keeping Canadians safe and secure:

  • 68 per cent approve (18 per cent strongly/50 per cent somewhat)
  • 32 per cent disapprove (13 per cent strongly/20 per cent somewhat)

Managing issues concerning First Nations and aboriginal people

  • 65 per cent approve (21 strongly/43 per cent somewhat)
  • 35 per cent disapprove (13 per cent strongly/23 per cent somewhat)

Running an ethical and honest government

  • 64 per cent approve (19 per cent strongly/45 per cent somewhat)
  • 36 per cent disapprove (13 per cent strongly/23 per cent somewhat)

Providing honest and open government

  • 61 per cent approve  (23 per cent strongly/38 per cent somewhat)
  • 39 per cent disapprove (15 per cent strongly/24 per cent somewhat)

Taking on tough but important issues

  • 61 per cent approve (14 per cent strongly/46 per cent somewhat)
  • 39 per cent disapprove (16 per cent strongly/23 per cent somewhat)

Dealing with climate change

  • 60 per cent approve (15 per cent strongly/45 per cent somewhat)
  • 40 per cent disapprove (14 per cent strongly/26 per cent somewhat)

Listening to Canadians and responding to their needs

  • 59 per cent approve (21 per cent strongly/38 per cent somewhat)
  • 41 per cent disapprove (17 per cent strongly/23 per cent somewhat)

Fighting terrorism

  • 59 per cent approve (13 per cent strongly/46 per cent somewhat)
  • 41 per cent disapprove (15 per cent strongly/26 per cent somewhat)

Helping the middle class

  • 58 per cent approve (15 per cent strongly/43 per cent somewhat)
  • 42 per cent disapprove (17 per cent strongly/25 per cent somewhat)

Managing Canada’s economy

  • 58 per cent approve (10 per cent strongly/47 per cent somewhat)
  • 42 per cent disapprove (20 per cent strongly/22 per cent somewhat)

Managing the federal budget

  • 54 per cent approve (9 per cent strongly/45 per cent somewhat)
  • 46 per cent disapprove (21 per cent strongly/25 per cent somewhat)

Reforming Canada’s election system

  • 54 per cent approve (9 per cent strongly/44 per cent somewhat)
  • 46 per cent disapprove (15 per cent strongly/31 per cent somewhat)

Managing natural resource projects such as pipelines

  • 51 per cent approve (13 per cent strongly/38 per cent somewhat)
  • 49 per cent disapprove (17 per cent strongly/31 per cent somewhat)

Creating jobs

  • 51 per cent approve (11 per cent strongly/40 per cent somewhat)
  • 49 per cent disapprove (17 per cent strongly/33 per cent somewhat)

Spending taxpayers’ money wisely

  • 50 per cent approve (9 per cent strongly/40 per cent somewhat)
  • 50 per cent disapprove (25 per cent strongly/25 per cent somewhat)