Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Network Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get at the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: The trust factor. How do you choose a leader that people trust?

The number:


Percentage of Canadians who say none of the federal political leaders are trustworthy or are unsure who can be trusted.

The source: Nanos Research national random telephone survey of 1,201 Canadians, May 26-31, 2012.

"Trust can either propel a leader or kill a leader. Canadians look for authenticity," Nanos said.

"Leaders can say they're [trustworthy], but Canadians want to see a pattern of behaviour and they look to that," Nanos said. "It can be a critical and strategic advantage if one leader if perceived as being more trustworthy than another."

Nanos Research asked Canadians which of the federal leaders they would describe as trustworthy right now, and found there were weak scores all around. The national random telephone survey of 1,201 Canadians, May 26-31, 2012, accurate ± 2.8 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

The results suggest 22.9 per cent of Canadians thought Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the most trustworthy, while 15.5 per cent picked NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and 10.8 per cent thought interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae was most trustworthy. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was seen as most trustworthy by 8.3 per cent of respondents.

What stood out from all of this was 4 in every 10 Canadians don't trust any of the federal leaders or they are unsure — 23.5 per cent of Canadians were undecided, while 17.2 per cent of Canadians thought none of the leaders were trustworthy. 

"A significant portion of the population is up for grabs. They're not happy with what they're seeing. And I think a lot of this has to do with the narrative. The very negative narrative that's been thrown around by all the federal party leaders," Nanos said.

These are unusually low numbers. Both Stephen Harper and the late NDP leader Jack Layton have hit the mid-30s for trust levels in the past. And trust is a make or break issue on the campaign trail.

Watch this week's Nanos Number above.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).