WE controversy takes bite out of Trudeau, Liberal popularity: Poll

The prime minister has apologized for not recusing himself from the WE decision

Nearly half of Canadians would support an election being called if the federal watchdog finds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act again over the WE charity affair, a new poll suggests.

The survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies also suggests the WE controversy has taken a bite out of Trudeau’s popularity, as well as that of the federal Liberal party, putting the Conservatives within striking distance of victory.

“To me these are numbers that will certainly worry or concern the Liberals at this moment because even though it’s in the summer, this is raising a lot of eyebrows,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

The online poll of 1,531 adult Canadians took place July 31 to Aug. 2, in the days following Trudeau’s appearance before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the deal with WE. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random.

The survey results come as federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating both Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau over whether they broke conflict-of-interest rules in relation to the government’s decision to give the WE organization a sole-sourced contract to run a $912-million student-volunteer program.

Trudeau was previously found to have broken the Conflict of Interest Act for accepting two paid family vacations from the Aga Khan and for improperly pressuring Jody Wilson-Raybould, who was then attorney general, to halt the criminal prosecution of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The prime minister has apologized for not recusing himself from the WE decision, given the connections that he and his family have to the Toronto-based development organization, but denied any wrongdoing. WE backed out of the deal in early July.

Forty-nine per cent of survey respondents said that if Trudeau is found to have broken the ethics law a third time, there should be an election to decide if he is fit to continue serving as prime minister. Thirty-five per cent disagreed and 16 per cent said they did not know.

Conservative supporters, unsurprisingly, were most in favour at 78 per cent. So were 67 per cent of those who said they intend to vote for the Bloc Quebecois. Those who identified as NDP supporters were almost evenly split while Liberal voters, at 64 per cent, were most opposed to the idea.

Forty-nine per cent of respondents also felt that the WE controversy has hurt their opinion of Trudeau while 42 per cent said the same thing about the Liberal Party. Fewer than five per cent said it had improved their view of either.

Perhaps most troubling for the prime minister and his Liberals is that support for the party among decided voters has slipped by six percentage points in the last two weeks, with the Conservatives, who have not yet elected their new leader, reaping the most recent benefits.

The poll shows 33 per cent of decided voters supporting the Liberals versus 31 per cent for the Conservatives and 20 per cent for the NDP. The Bloc followed with eight per cent and the Greens at six.

“From a voter-intention perspective, it allows the Conservatives to be back in the game,” Bourque said.

“Since the start of the pandemic, they were always behind the Liberals. But now they’re within a couple of points and this allows them to be part of the dance now. So as soon as they get a new leader, they could basically say they want an election now.”

Meanwhile, the poll also suggested many Canadians are relatively unenthusiastic about the return of professional sports that have been suspended by COVID-19, with only 32 per cent of respondents saying they were excited and 39 per cent were not.

Forty-nine per cent also said they did not believe professional sports should resume before a vaccine is available versus 33 per cent who did.

Despite this, 42 per cent of respondents said they would like to see NHL hockey resume. A modified version of the Stanley Cup playoffs kicked off on the weekend.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

CoronavirusJustin TrudeauLiberalsPoll

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read