On thin ice: Is Trudeau in trouble?

(Photo of Trudeau by The White House via Wikimedia Commons; Photo of Poilievre: Mykola Swarnyk, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Are we witnessing an end to Justin Trudeau’s long-standing leadership? 

Recent polling numbers seem to suggest that Trudeau’s popularity has taken a hit. Polls conducted by Ipsos for Global News indicate a cause for worry for the Liberal Party. Forty per cent of Canadians believe Conservative candidate Pierre Poilievre would make the best prime minister, while only 31 per cent believe that Justin Trudeau remains the best option.

According to the Angus Reid Institute, Trudeau has a current approval rating of 31 per cent, a far cry from his 2020 high of 55 per cent.

Dennis Pilon, professor of political science at York, explains the reasons behind these statistics and Trudeau’s dip in popularity. He says, “I don’t think Poilievre is responsible for this change so much as the Liberals appear spent. 

“I think what we are seeing now is that the swing voters that helped the Liberals stay in government before may be discouraged by the number of setbacks the government has faced, combined with the sense that they have run out of steam. 

“Additionally, the Conservatives may have been effective in tagging the Liberals with responsibility for a host of problems like inflation and housing which the government is not really responsible for — but are [the] front of mind of voters that want to blame someone,” Pilon adds. 

Darrell Bickers, CEO of Ipsos, has stated: “It’s not like there’s Poilievre-mania. It’s just really a desire for change.” Bickers’s comments show that the bad polling numbers are a result of the voter’s desire for a change, rather than a dislike of Trudeau. 

This polling trend has made some Liberals question whether Trudeau is a suitable candidate for the Liberal Party. Pilon argues that it would be “hard to see who might galvanize liberal voters and swing voters from amongst the front bench of the existing party.”

However, Poilievre has advertised himself as a simple family man with traditional values. This contrasts with the current public image of Trudeau, who recently divorced his wife of 18 years this past August. This is just one item on the ever-growing list of woes encountered by the PM in 2023.

Pilon says the recent polls give the Conservatives the appearance of momentum and he emphasizes that “we’re still a year or so out from an election possibly, so that’s a long time in politics. Polls between elections are much less reliable than the polling in the run-up of the election itself.” 

All hope is not lost for Liberals — many things could change from now to the 2025 election. Pilon offers some hope to Liberal voters: “Once an election gets going, the people paying attention increases and the polling often starts to change.” For instance, despite the emergence of controversial photos during the 2015 federal election depicting him in blackface, Trudeau still managed to surmount the scandal and secure a victory.

It won’t be easy, as Poilievre and the Conservatives seem poised to overtake the Liberals. Regardless, one thing is certain: the next election could be the toughest one yet in Trudeau’s political career.

About the Author

By Aidan O’Brien


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