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Trudeau’s approval rating drops 16 points in six months

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating has dropped by 16 points over the past six months according to polling by Forum Research Inc.

Their polls on Trudeau’s approval rating show:

42% — April

45% — March

48% — January

51% — December

58% — November

Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff says, “Trudeau’s level of approval should be of concern to Liberals across the country, as the once irrepressibly popular prime minister now sees his disapproval exceed his approval. Perhaps it’s the aftermath of an unpopular budget, or just a general lack of interest that comes with the middle of a mandate, but, whatever the cause, Trudeau doesn’t seem to be connecting with Canadians right now.”

Beyond the unpopular budget tabled in March, it has been suggested that Trudeau’s numbers have dropped because of his broken promise on electoral reform, his Christmas vacation on a billionaire’s private island in the Bahamas, Liberal cash-for-access fundraising practices, and his approval of two tar sands pipelines.

There may also be the emerging feeling that while many voted for him to implement “real change”, many of his policies (on free trade deals, health care funding, tar sands pipelines, water protection) are reflective of the Harper era.

On January 25, CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier observed, “Trudeau’s approval ratings have dropped to their lowest level since he became prime minister, according to a new poll. But an analysis of the popularity of his predecessors suggests Trudeau’s sliding numbers are typical of a prime minister roughly 15 months after taking office.”

He then highlighted that at the 15 month point (January 2017) Trudeau’s approval rating was 48 per cent, compared to Stephen Harper’s 49 per cent approval rating at his 15 month anniversary (spring of 2007).

Grenier concludes, “[Trudeau’s] approval rating is likely to continue sliding — just as his predecessors’ ratings did over the course of their second years in office.”

There are at least two other upcoming challenges Trudeau will face with respect to his approval rating as he approaches the mid-term point in his term this October:

1- The renegotiation of NAFTA

There are numerous pitfalls for Trudeau as the renegotiation of NAFTA is expected to begin this August-September. Canadians do not seem to be hopeful about the talks. An Angus Reid poll conducted in February found that, “Only one-in-ten Canadians (10%) think Canada will emerge from NAFTA renegotiation better off than it is now. More than one-in-three (35%) say the country will be worse off.” Angus Reid also found that Canadians are split on how they think the government should approach the talks – 47% think Trudeau should take a hard approach and refuse concessions, while 53% favour a soft approach where difficult concessions might be made.

2- New Conservative and NDP leaders

The Conservatives will hold their leadership convention on May 26-28, while the NDP will choose their leader through a largely online voting process that begins on September 18, with first round voting results to be announced on October 1, subsequent rounds if needed each subsequent week, and a possible fifth round by October 29. It remains to be seen how the Conservatives (most likely under Maxime Bernier) or the NDP (under either Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron or Peter Julian) would affect Trudeau’s approval ratings or more significantly the outcome of the October 21, 2019 federal election.