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Time for a change in Canadian politics? Half say yes, but most don't want an election before September – Angus Reid Institute

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Despite calls for change, Liberals still hold four-point advantage over opposition Conservatives


March 17, 2021 – At a time when a 2021 election seems likely, and as CPC leader Erin O’Toole continues his so far unsuccessful attempt to break through with the electorate, Conservatives will gather this week for their party’s policy convention.

They will do so knowing half of Canadians express a desire for a change in government, yet show little want for an election before fall, and still give the incumbent Liberals a slight edge in vote intention.

According to the latest data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, half of Canadians (49%) say it’s time to switch governing parties in Ottawa, led almost entirely by past Conservative voters (88% say this), and at least one-in-three past NDP (39%), Green (35%), and Bloc Quebecois (40%) voters, respectively. Notably, more than one-in-seven (17%) of those who supported the Liberals in 2019 say the same. About a third of the country (35%) disagree.

With COVID-19 vaccinations now underway, the notion of a spring election is overwhelmingly unpopular. As Canadians focus on an end to pandemic life, summer is also considered too soon by 63 per cent. A fall call is palatable to most, however, as two-thirds say an election between September and December would be appropriate.

Whenever an election is called, the priority for the Conservative Party will be figuring out how to endear their leader to a broader subsection of the population. Just 29 per cent of Canadians have a favourable view of Erin O’Toole, while positive perceptions of Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh hover in the mid 40’s.

More Key Findings:

  • Current vote intention finds the Liberal Party holding a four-point advantage over the CPC (35% to 31%), while the NDP is chosen by 19 per cent.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has an approval rating of 45 per cent, unchanged from February.
  • Erin O’Toole’s favourability with 2019 CPC voters is 64 per cent. Comparatively, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a favourability of 85 per cent and Justin Trudeau has an approval rating of 81 per cent among their party’s 2019 voters.
  • Older Canadians are less inclined to head to the polls this year. Those 65 years of age and older are least likely to say that an election at any point in 2021 would be inappropriate compared to younger residents.
  • The Liberal Party has a 15-point vote intention advantage in the Greater Toronto Area and Metro Vancouver. In Greater Montreal, 47 per cent would vote for the Liberals and just 10 per cent for the CPC.

About ARI

The Angus Reid Institute (ARI) was founded in October 2014 by pollster and sociologist, Dr. Angus Reid. ARI is a national, not-for-profit, non-partisan public opinion research foundation established to advance education by commissioning, conducting and disseminating to the public accessible and impartial statistical data, research and policy analysis on economics, political science, philanthropy, public administration, domestic and international affairs and other socio-economic issues of importance to Canada and its world.

INDEX:

Part One: Should there be an election in 2021?

  • Pre-autumn election seen as inappropriate by most Canadians

  • Half say it’s time for a change in government, whenever an election is called

Part Two: Leadership

  • Trudeau approval

  • Will CPC convention provide a kick-start for O’Toole?

Part Three: Vote intention

  • Region and major urban areas

  • Age and gender

Part One: Should there be an election in 2021?

Talk of a 2021 federal election began early this year. After reports that the governing Liberals were targeting an election call for later the spring, a committee in the House of Commons, including Liberal members, urged the Prime Minister not to send Canadians to the polls until the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. Timelines for vaccination have been moved up for many jurisdictions as the rollout of cross-country inoculation has ramped up, with some now suggesting that June may be the target of such a call, if not the fall. The Liberals decision to delay a 2021 budget has some also questioning whether the release of a budget later in the year maybe an election-related strategy, though the government has claimed that pandemic-related challenges are the reason for the delay.

Pre-autumn election seen as inappropriate by most Canadians

For most Canadians, any election timeline that aims for the spring or summer would be inappropriate. Just one-quarter (23%) say that they would be comfortable with an election call before May, while slightly more than one-in-three (37%) say that a May to August date would be fine with them.

With the current timeline for vaccinations in place, each of these first two scenarios would entail some risk, as many Canadians would potentially be unvaccinated. Three provinces held relatively successful elections, B.C., Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick, under such circumstances. The more recent election in Newfoundland and Labrador has shown the potential for massive problems. After cases of COVID-19 rose in the province, the election was delayed and ultimately shifted to mail-in ballots only. The voting period has now been extended multiple times.

These opinions change considerably when Canadians are asked about an election in the fall. In this case, two-thirds (67%) feel that prospect would be appropriate:

Past Conservative voters are more anxious to get to the polls than others. Indeed, on each of the proposed timelines those who supported the CPC in 2019 are most likely to say each is appropriate. More than half (54%) would be accepting of an election during the late spring or summer, while three-quarters say a fall call is acceptable. New Democrats are closely behind in enthusiasm for an autumn vote at 70 per cent, while notably lukewarm in their support for all timelines are past Liberal voters:

Also important in these discussions are the opinions of those most at risk from the coronavirus – older Canadians. On all three of the proposed timelines, those over the age of 64 are more hesitant to say an election call would be acceptable. Three-in-five (61%) say that the fall would be fine, when initial timelines from the federal government have stated that all Canadians who want a vaccination will have had one:

Half say it’s time for a change in government, whenever an election is called

While the appetite for an election in the coming months is varied, half of the population (49%) now says that it is time for a change in government. This opinion is partially counteracted by one-in-three (35%) who disagree:

There are pronounced regional divisions on this issue, which speak to the relative satisfaction with the federal government. In Alberta (71%) and Saskatchewan (73%), seven-in-ten residents say it’s time for the Liberals to go. In Quebec, 47 per cent say a change in government is not needed.

Age is less of a source of division on this question. Close to half of Canadians across all age groups say that a change is needed, though older Canadians are more opposed to that notion (see detailed tables).

Notably, more than one-in-seven (17%) past Liberal voters indicate it’s time to switch out the party they supported in 2019, while at least one-in-three past NDP, Bloc Quebecois, and Green voters agree. Past CPC voters are near unanimous:

Part Two: Leadership

Trudeau approval

Opinions of the Prime Minister’s performance this month are largely the same as last. One-in-ten (9%) say they strongly approve, while 36 per cent moderately approve. One-in-three (35%) strongly disapprove of the work done by Trudeau:

As mentioned, at 45 per cent Trudeau’s approval is unchanged from last month, and down nine-points from last year at close to this time (April).

Much of the PM’s decline in the last few months has largely been driven by dissatisfaction over delays and uncertainty over the progress of COVID-19 vaccination. With jabs now being administered at a brisker pace (some provinces have moved up their timelines for the population to receive their first doses in recent weeks), it is as yet unknown whether Trudeau’s fortunes stand to improve.

Will CPC convention provide a kick-start for O’Toole?

Ahead of the Conservative Party’s Policy Convention, a three-day virtual event, the data show the CPC has more work to do convincing all but the converted to consider the Conservatives. Leader Erin O’Toole continues to lag behind other party leaders in public opinion. More than six months into the job, just 29 per cent of Canadians view him favourably, while half (51%) feel differently. For New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, the story is more positive. Nearly half (46%) view him favourably. Singh recently committed that he would not vote to bring down the current government as long as the pandemic continues:

Thus far, O’Toole has only lost ground among the Canadian public, down seven points from his high mark, recorded shortly after his successful leadership campaign:

*Quebec only

O’Toole’s lack of public connection is perhaps most evident when looking at his net favourability. Subtracting those who view him unfavourably from those who view him favourably, he garners a -22. This ratio is by far the worst of the major federal party leaders:

The Conservative Party convention may provide an opportunity to feature Erin O’Toole in order to bring around 2019 CPC supporters and shore up the Conservative base. Just two-thirds (64%) of the party’s past voters view him favourably while one-quarter (24%) do not. Comparing these to other parties’ partisan supporters, one can see the deficit this portends:

The economy and government spending are by far the highest priorities for those aforementioned 2019 Conservative Party supporters. Half (49%) say that the deficit is the biggest federal issue currently, while the same number say this of the economy (48%) more broadly. Past Conservatives are notably far less concerned about the coronavirus and health care than past NDP and Liberal supporters:

Part Three: Vote intention

While the Conservative Party formalizes its new agenda and the Liberals build an upcoming budget, both parties appear well shy of a majority if an election were held in the near term. The Liberals lead in vote intention at 35 per cent, four points ahead of the opposition CPC at 31 per cent. The NDP finds itself in a familiar position, the preferred party of one-in-five Canadians (19%).

This represents little change in vote intention since the beginning of the year:

Region and major urban areas

All three parties generate significant but not overwhelming support in British Columbia. The CPC dominates eastward until reaching Ontario, where the Liberals garner a six-point advantage. The Liberals hold an important 10-point advantage over the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec and a significant advantage in Atlantic Canada.

*Because its small population precludes drawing discrete samples over multiple waves, data on Prince Edward Island are not released.

Checking in on the vote picture in Canada’s urban centres, the Liberals hold large leads in Metro Vancouver, the GTA and Montreal, while larger cities in Alberta and Saskatchewan lean heavily Conservative. Perhaps most interesting is Winnipeg, where all three major parties garner at least 29 per cent of the intended vote:


Age and gender

Importantly for the CPC, the party is first choice for all male age groups. Meanwhile, young women prefer both the NDP and Liberals over the Conservatives, while women over the age of 34 offer high levels of support to the incumbents:

For detailed results by age, gender, region, education, and other demographics, click here.

For detailed results by major cities, click here.

For detailed results by fine age groups, click here.

To read the full report, including detailed tables and methodology, click here.

To read the questionnaire, click here.

Image Credit – Andrew Meade

METHODOLOGY

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from February 26 – March 3, 2021 among a representative randomized sample of 5,004 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Shachi Kurl, President: 604.908.1693 shachi.kurl@angusreid.org @shachikurl

Dave Korzinski, Research Director: 250.899.0821 dave.korzinski@angusreid.org


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Canada promises two Arctic icebreakers in pre-election job boost

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Canada on Thursday promised to build two Arctic ice breakers and create hundreds of jobs in two politically influential provinces that will help decide an election considered likely this year.

The Liberal government, citing the need to increase Canada‘s footprint in the resource-rich Arctic as global warming opens up the region, said at least one ship would be ready by 2030.

“(This) will give Canada a year-round presence in the Arctic to help … safeguard our marine environments, ensure the safe and efficient movement of ships, and protect our borders,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement.

Ottawa said each ship will generate 300 jobs and create another 2,500 positions in various supply chains. One vessel will be built in Quebec’s Davie shipyard and the other by Seaspan in British Columbia.

The two provinces together account for 120 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and are crucial to the fortunes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who aides say is likely to call an election by end-2021.

Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the opposition Bloc Quebecois, dismissed the announcement as electoral politics, saying polls suggested some senior Quebec Liberals could lose their seats.

The ice breaker project has been hit by several delays since the previous Conservative government first announced it in 2008.

Officials declined to say how much each vessel would cost but said it would exceed the most recent estimate of C$1.3 billion ($1.1 billion), which was made in 2012.

The 150-meter (490 feet) ships will weigh 23,700 tonnes and – unlke Canada‘s sole existing ice breaker – are designed to operate year-round throughout the Arctic.

Russia and the United States are the other major Arctic players while China says the region is of strategic interest.

($1 = 1.2193 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)

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G7 to consider mechanism to counter Russian ‘propaganda’

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By William James

LONDON (Reuters) -The Group of Seven richest countries will look at a proposal to build a rapid response mechanism to counter Russian “propaganda” and disinformation, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters.

Speaking ahead of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in London, the first such in-person meeting for two years, Raab said the United Kingdom was “getting the G7 to come together with a rapid rebuttal mechanism” to counter Russian misinformation.

“So that when we see these lies and propaganda or fake news being put out there, we can – not just individually, but come together to provide a rebuttal and frankly to provide the truth, for the people of this country but also in Russia or China or around the world,” Raab said.

Russia and China are trying to sow mistrust across the West, whether by spreading disinformation in elections or by spreading lies about COVID-19 vaccines, according to British, U.S. and European security officials.

Russia denies it is meddling beyond its borders and says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria.

“It’s time to think of why the countries which are sick to the core with propaganda, and which used it more than once to justify armed intervention and toppling of governments … accuse our country of their own sins,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on social media after Raab’s comments.

China says the West is a bully and that its leaders have a post-imperial mindset that makes them feel they can act like global policemen.

Britain has identified Russia as the biggest threat to its security though it views China as its greatest long-term challenge, militarily, economically and technologically.

Raab will meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, kicking off a week of diplomacy aimed at reinvigorating the G7’s role and forming a wider bulwark against those it sees as undermining the rules-based international order.

“The scope for intense global cooperation, international cooperation with our American partners and indeed the wider G7, that we’re convening this week has never been greater,” Raab said.

He stressed that meeting in person – something only possible due to measures like daily testing of attendees – would make diplomacy much easier: “You can only do so much by Zoom.”

The G7 members are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and their combined gross domestic product is about $40 trillion – a little less than half of the global economy.

RUSSIA-CHINA

British and U.S. officials have expressed concern in recent months about growing strategic cooperation between Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, and China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

Asked about the concerns, Raab said: “What matters to us most is that we broaden the international caucus of like-minded countries that stand up for open societies, human rights and democracy, that stand for open trade.”

He said many of those allies wanted “to know how this pandemic started.” The coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in late 2019, has killed 3.2 million people and cost the world trillions of dollars in lost output.

Raab said some of the barriers between the G7 and other like-minded countries needed to be broken down, so that there could be a broader network of allies that stood up for open markets and democracy.

Britain has invited India, Australia and South Korea to attend this week’s meeting, running from Monday to Wednesday, and the full leaders’ summit in June.

Asked whether Britain could seek to join a separate grouping known as the Quad – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – Raab said there was no concrete proposal as yet, but Britain was looking at ways to engage more in the Indo-Pacific.

(Writing by William James and Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Vladimir SoldatkinEditing by Susan Fenton and Frances Kerry)

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New Zealand says differences with China becoming harder to reconcile

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New Zealand

By Praveen Menon

WELLINGTON (Reuters) -Differences between New Zealand and its top trading partner China are becoming harder to reconcile as Beijing’s role in the world grows and changes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

The comments come as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance to criticise Beijing.

In a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ardern said there are things on which China and New Zealand “do not, cannot, and will not agree”, but added these differences need not define their relationship.

“It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that shape those systems – are becoming harder to reconcile,” Ardern said.

“This is a challenge that we, and many other countries across the Indo Pacific region, but also in Europe and other regions, are also grappling with,” she added.

In comments that sparked some reaction among Western allies, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said last month she was uncomfortable expanding the role of Five Eyes, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.

“This speech appears to be crafted to deflect surprisingly sharp and severe criticism from commentators after Mahuta’s remarks last month,” said Geoffrey Miller, international analyst at the political website Democracy Project.

However, the comments do not change New Zealand’s overall shift to a more China-friendly, or at least more neutral position, he said.

“Ardern and Mahuta are selling the new stance as New Zealand advancing an ‘independent foreign policy’ that is not loyal to any major bloc,” he added.

SENSITIVE ISSUES

China, which takes almost one-third of New Zealand’s exports, has accused the Five Eyes of ganging up on it by issuing statements on Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyhgurs in Xinjiang.

New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday is set to look at a motion put forward by a smaller party to declare the situation in Xinjiang as a genocide.

Ardern said New Zealand would continue to speak about these issues individually as well as through its partners, noting that managing the relationship with China is not always going to be easy.

China’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Wu Xi, who also spoke at the event warned that Hong Kong and Xinjiang related issues were China’s internal affairs.

“We hope that the New Zealand side could hold an objective and a just a position, abide by international law and not interfere in China’s internal affairs so as to maintain the sound development of our bilateral relations,” she said in her speech.

Beijing is engaged in a diplomatic row with Australia and has imposed trade restrictions after Canberra lobbied for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus. China denies the curbs are reprisals, saying reduced imports of Australian products are the result of buyers’ own decisions.

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China had recently acted “more aggressively abroad” and was behaving “increasingly in adversarial ways.”

When asked if New Zealand would risk trade punishment with China, as did Australia, to uphold values, Ardern said: “It would be a concern to anyone in New Zealand if the consideration was ‘Do we speak on this or are we too worried of economic impacts?'”

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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