The next federal election may be years away, but what Canadians think of how their political leaders are doing today matters.

The CBC's Leader Meter tracks just that.

The Leader Meter is an interactive feature tracking the latest public opinion polls related to the leaders' approval and disapproval ratings. The Leader Meter lets you choose the range of data you want to look at (going back to early 2013) and it offers a look at how the current leaders compare to past party leaders and Canadian prime ministers.

The Leader Meter will be updated regularly, including when the Conservatives, New Democrats and Bloc Québécois choose their next permanent leaders in 2017.

You can check out the Leader Meter here. Below you'll find a full explanation on how to get the most out of this interactive tool.

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The Leader Meter tracks each leader's approval ratings in the polls. (CBC News Interactives)

In the Leader's Approval Ratings section, you can select each of the leaders of the five major parties to see their average approval and disapproval ratings. You also have the option to select all five to compare them head-to-head.

The arrows to the left and right allow you to scroll through the various data sets, including the most recent 10 polls, post- and pre-election polls, or the entire data set stretching to April, 2013. The average is re-calculated based on the data set selected.

The data is also presented in the line graph below, showing dots for each individual poll in the data set as well as the rolling average. You can scroll over the chart to see the details of each individual poll.

Here again, you can toggle between the data sets you want to analyze by clicking on the arrows to the right and left, or the gray circles above the line graph.

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The Leader Meter allows you to select the data set you are most interested in, as well as how you want to look at it. (CBC News Interactives)

At the bottom of the line graph, you can toggle between focusing on the individual polls or the poll averages. The poll average defaults to a three-poll rolling average, but you can select a rolling average of five or 10 polls as well.

The chart also marks important events, such as the 2015 election and the naming of new party leaders.

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The Leader Meter tracks the highest and lowest points of each leader's approval ratings. (CBC News Interactives)

The Highs and Lows section shows the historical high and low points for each current leader's approval rating, when those highs and lows took place, and how that compares to the latest poll. 

You can also look at when past prime ministers were at their highest and lowest points. This data is based on what is currently still publicly available, and so is based on only a partial data set.

The List of Polls section shows the complete results of each approval ratings poll in the data set, along with field dates, sample sizes and links to the full survey. Under the "Poll" column, you can also choose to look at the polls by a single polling firm, rather than seeing them all together.