Canadians sharply and evenly divided over Trudeau's pandemic performance, poll suggests

A new poll says public opinion on the political response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is deeply divided, with those polled split evenly on the question of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has handled the emergency.

Premiers of Alberta and Manitoba were rated most poorly among provincial leaders

The survey respondents were sharply divided on the performance of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the pandemic, although Canadians were much more likely to say he's done a 'very bad job ' than a 'very good job.' (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

A new poll says public opinion on the political response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is deeply divided, with those polled split evenly on the question of how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has handled the emergency.

The poll, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with CBC, found that 48 per cent of Canadians say Trudeau has done a "good" or "very good" job during the pandemic so far.

Another 48 per cent said Trudeau has done a "bad" or "very bad" job.

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, said the findings appear to confirm what many Canadians have already learned about the political divide exposed by the pandemic.

"Sometimes it's a confirmation of a trend ... it just tells us where we are as a country," she told CBC News.

Among those who said Trudeau has performed poorly, 31 per cent said he's handled the pandemic very badly — twice the number of respondents who said he's done a very good job.

Four per cent of respondents said they didn't or couldn't say how well Trudeau has performed.

The responses were collected through an online survey conducted from March 1 to 4 on a representative randomized sample of 2,550 Canadians 18 and older who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The territories are not included in the results because the small sample size did not yield accurate data.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam has done a good job during the pandemic, while 34 per cent said she has done poorly.

Responses split sharply along party lines

Opinions about Trudeau's performance were most sharply divided on party lines, with Conservative voters voicing overwhelming dissatisfaction and Liberal supporters offering overwhelmingly positive impressions.

Among Conservatives, 84 per cent said Trudeau has done a bad or very bad job, while 88 per cent of Liberals said the prime minister has done a good or very good job.

Among NDP voters, 67 per cent said Trudeau has done well. Bloc Québécois supporters offered a more negative assessment — 62 per cent of them said Trudeau has done badly.

Trudeau's performance was rated most negatively in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where 45 per cent of respondents said he has done a "very bad job." Canadians in the Atlantic provinces and British Columbia were most satisfied with Trudeau's performance.

Trudeau and the Liberal government have implemented numerous measures meant to slow the pandemic over the past two years, including the closure of international borders and the enforcement of vaccine mandates for some travellers and federal workers. The federal government was also responsible for procuring vaccines.

Canadians in the Prairies least satisfied with their premiers

Provincial governments and premiers were responsible for most of the restrictions introduced during the pandemic, including the closure of schools and businesses, the enforcement of indoor gathering limits and vaccine mandates, and the distribution of vaccines.

Atlantic Canadians were the most satisfied with their premiers, with seven out of 10 saying their premiers have done well during the pandemic.

The Atlantic provinces have experienced consistently lower case numbers than anywhere else in Canada, something attributed to precautions implemented in that region — including the Atlantic Bubble, which restricted interprovincial travel.

Outside of the Atlantic provinces, B.C. has recorded the fewest number of cases and deaths per 100,000 residents in Canada. Six out of 10 B.C. residents said they were satisfied with Premier John Horgan.

Manitoba and Alberta residents were the least satisfied with their premiers.

Nearly eight out of 10 in Manitobans said Premiers Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson have done badly.

Seven out of 10 Albertans gave Premier Jason Kenney a failing grade. Kurl said in an interview that Kenney consistently angered "a really significant constituency of Albertans" by repeatedly adjusting his approach to the pandemic.

"For Kenney in particular, what we saw is he had almost the reverse Midas touch," Kurl said of the results. "Almost every other premier struck a little bit of grace or found a little bit of extra understanding."

Respondents in Ontario and Quebec were more evenly divided, with a slim majority of Ontarians saying Premier Doug Ford has done a bad job and a majority of Quebecers (57 per cent) saying Premier François Legault has done well.