Canadians approve of Trudeau's 1st weeks in office, poll suggests

Justin Trudeau's honeymoon continues unabated, though a new poll indicates Canadians have some mixed reviews on the government's approach to ISIS and refugees — but not enough to push the Liberals to change their minds.

But Canadians are less sure about the Liberal government's approach to ISIS and refugees

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still enjoying a honeymoon phase after several high-profile appearances abroad in major meetings, according to a new poll. Trudeau is seen here with European Council President Donald Tusk, left, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, Monday at the UN climate change conference. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The honeymoon of Justin Trudeau's new Liberal government continues to be in full swing, with broad support or acceptance of the approach the prime minister has taken on a number of contentious issues, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted online by Abacus Data between Nov. 23 and 25, indicates 51 per cent of Canadians approve of the job the federal government led by Prime Minister Trudeau is doing, with just 19 per cent disapproving. That is night and day with where these numbers stood for the previous government. When Abacus last asked this question in July, the approval of Stephen Harper's Conservatives stood at just 32 per cent, with 47 per cent disapproving.

Approval of the Liberal government runs the gamut of regional and political divides, with majorities of Canadians in approval in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Even in Alberta and the Prairies, the approval rating is higher than its disapproval rating. In addition, a majority of Canadians who voted for the New Democrats and a plurality of those who voted for the Green Party also say they approve of the job the Liberals are doing in office so far.

Only those who say they are on the right side of the political spectrum disapprove of the Trudeau government in larger numbers. On the left and centre-left, however, approval for the Liberals is 7 in 10.

Thumbs up to Trudeau's international tour

The government scored highly on several issues, including openness and accountability, and the appointments made to cabinet. But Trudeau's performance on the world stage is also getting kudos from Canadians.

According to the poll, 55 per cent of Canadians say "the way [Trudeau] has represented Canada internationally" has been good or very good, while another 31 per cent said it has been acceptable. Only 15 per cent (including a plurality of right and centre-right voters) said his performance on this question was poor or very poor.

The poll was conducted after Trudeau's appearance at the G20 and APEC summits, but before his most recent visits to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, and the UN's 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) summit in Paris to discuss climate issues.

The prime minister, who spoke Monday at the Paris gathering, also scored well on "his approach to the issue of climate change and greenhouse gases." On this question, 47 per cent of Canadians said Trudeau's approach was good or very good, while 13 per cent said he was doing poorly. Even in Alberta, more respondents thought he was doing a good job rather than a poor one.

Mixed results on terrorism and refugees

But while Canadians broadly approve of how Trudeau is doing on these issues, they are less unanimous on his approach to fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the government's policies concerning refugee resettlement.

While a plurality, or 37 per cent, said Trudeau's "approach to dealing with the question of refugees" was good or very good, another 32 per cent said it was poor — including 15 per cent of people who voted for the Liberals on Oct. 19. A majority of Conservative voters and a plurality of Bloc voters, as well as residents of Alberta and the Prairies, also thought that Trudeau's handling of this issue was poor.

(Note that the poll was conducted in the midst of the Liberals' announcement that the government would not meet its target of bringing 25,000 refugees to Canada before the end of the year.)

Views on Trudeau's "approach to dealing with the threat of ISIS" were also mixed, with 35 per cent thinking it good and 31 per cent thinking it poor.

But the Liberals have committed to sticking to their campaign promise of bringing the CF-18s currently deployed to Iraq back to Canada. The poll suggests the Liberals are not out of place to consider they were given a mandate to do that, as just 11 per cent of Liberal voters say the party is handling this issue poorly. The remaining 9 in10 think that Trudeau is handling this in either a good or acceptable way.

Voters who self-identify as being either on the centre or the left of the political spectrum (a very large majority of the electorate) are unlikely to put much pressure on the government to change that policy, considering that between 72 and and 85 per cent of them think the Liberals' approach is, at least, acceptable.

Combined with the government's overall approval ratings, it is not a bad start for a new government tackling a number of controversial files in its first weeks in power.

The poll by Abacus Data was conducted between Nov. 23 and 25, interviewing 1,500 Canadians via the internet. As the poll was conducted online, a margin of error does not apply.

About the Author

Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.


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