More than half of Canadians say they prefer Justin Trudeau as prime minister, according to the latest weekly Nanos Party Power Index figures.
The Nanos Research survey revealed support for Trudeau exceeded other party leaders by a wide margin, one year after the Liberals won a majority government.
- Justin Trudeau – 52.2 per cent
- Rona Ambrose – 14.6 per cent
- Thomas Mulcair – 8.4 per cent
- Elizabeth May – 5.4 per cent
- Unsure – 18.7 per cent
While Trudeau’s promises to balance middle-class economic growth with a push towards a more sustainable low-carbon economy, along with a bevy of other commitments, have resonated with many Canadians, Nik Nanos, chairman of Nanos Research Group, says uncertainty around future Conservative and NDP leadership has been the biggest windfall for the prime minister.
“He is benefitting from the two major opposition parties not having a permanent leader. In one respect, a significant part of his strength is the weakness of the opposition,” he said.
Trudeau’s popularity has surged since Oct. 18, 2015, climbing 16.7 per cent, while Ambrose has seen her leadership approval rating cut in half. Mulcair has lost about 10 per cent. May’s approval has remained virtually flat from this time last year, according to the survey.
Nanos says Trudeau’s biggest potential stumbling block will be his handling of the federal fiscal deficit.
The Liberals campaigned on running deficits of no more than $10 billion, with a return to a balanced budget by the end of their mandate. In the March 2016 federal budget, Finance Minister Bill Morneau projected a $29.4 billion deficit in the current fiscal year and another $29 billion deficit in fiscal 2017, with the price tag edging lower over a five-year period.
However, a report by TD Economics issued last week calls for Canada’s fiscal deficit to balloon by $16.5 billion on top of what the government forecasts over five years.
“The economic situation in Canada has deteriorated since budget 2016, impacted not just by wildfires but also by serially disappointing underlying momentum,” TD Economics’ chief economist Beata Caranci wrote in the report.
“(Trudeau) promised during the election to run a deficit to stimulate the economy with infrastructure investment, and increased the deficit after getting elected,” said Nanos. “With an uncertain economy, keeping control of the deficit from going higher than projected will be very important.”
The Nanos Research survey also found that 70.2 per cent believe Trudeau has the qualities of a good leader, while 48.2 per cent said the same of Mulcair. May ranked third with 37.8 per cent. Ambrose trailed with 30.9 per cent. Those figures for all four major party leaders have seen only minor fluctuations since Oct. 18, 2015.
Nanos warns the liberals against getting too comfortable in first place.
“The Conservative and NDP numbers are weaker than usual because, without a leader, it is hard to motivate and organize support,” he said. “Once the Conservative and NDP leadership races gear up in earnest, and they select a leader, we will likely at that time understand the true strength of the Liberals.”
The interviews are compiled into a four week rolling average of 1,000 interviews where each week, the oldest group of 250 interviews is dropped and a new group of 250 interviews is added. The current wave of tracking is based on a four-week rolling average of 1,000 Canadians (250 per week) ending October 14th, 2016.
A random telephone survey of 1,000 Canadians is accurate 3.1 percentage points, plus or minus, 19 times out of 20.