Hell hath no fury like an Attorney General scorned, and voters deserve better.
That’s the message Canadians are sending the prime minister after a new poll done by Campaign Research indicated Justin Trudeau’s support has been severely damaged by the SNC Lavalin scandal.
Trudeau, a leader who attaches vital importance to how you treat women and marginalized groups, as well as his often cited commitment to government transparency, has hit the peak of brand destruction through his mishandling of the scandal. Wilson-Raybould, an Indigenous woman who went about her job professionally and ethically, is now a glaring example of that downfall.
Add to that the resignation of Treasury Board President Jane Philpott, as well as the accusations from outgoing Liberal MP Celine Caesar-Chavannes of hostile treatment from Trudeau, and you have reached peak hypocrisy from the party of listening and compassion.
The damage is now crystal clear.
Canadians as a whole believe Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony over the Trudeau Liberals’ explanation by almost a 4 to 1 margin (49% believe Wilson-Raybould’s version of events, while just 13% of the country believe Trudeau), casting a long shadow on the Liberals’ chances at winning the next federal election.
The bad news doesn’t end there. Support for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is at just 65% from Canadians who intend to vote Liberal in 2019. This translates into a peculiar place for the Liberals – the party has more support than the man who leads it.
Of course, that election is still months away. Canadians still have time to be wooed by this government, but this scandal still has a chapter or two left, including a possible second appearance before the justice committee for Wilson-Raybould, which means we could still be talking about it long after the snow has melted on Parliament Hill.
The poll also shows some interesting insights among core Trudeau supporters and how the scandal has impacted their trust in the prime minister. For example, only 9% of millennials believe Trudeau over Wilson-Raybould. Trudeau had built an image partially around the idea of engaging with young voters, and those young voters are largely credited with helping the Liberals achieve victory in 2015.
Women are also not feeling good about Trudeau, with just 12% believing Trudeau’s version of events over Wilson-Raybould’s. This number must be worrying to the Trudeau brain trust who have fastened the image of the prime minister to an undying commitment for feminism, an integral part of the Trudeau brand and one he likes to spotlight on the regular.
Overall, 46% of Canadians want Trudeau to either resign immediately (30%) or resign after the election (16%), meaning nearly half the country wants to see Trudeau out of office completely by the end of 2019.
Baby boomers and Gen Xers are the two groups most familiar with the scandal. They are also the two groups who lean the most towards a preference of Trudeau resigning from office.
A Trudeau resignation is unlikely, but the poll does show that only 22% of Canadians believe Trudeau is the best person to lead the Liberals. Interestingly, 17% of the country believe Wilson-Raybould would make the best leader.
In Atlantic Canada, where the Liberals swept every riding in 2015, more voters believe Wilson-Raybould should be leader over Trudeau. 24% of maritimers would prefer Wilson-Raybould as leader, while just 21% would prefer Trudeau.
This is death by a thousand cuts, with various demographics showing that the trust they had in the Trudeau brand has been severely, maybe even irreparably damaged.
Coming back from a scandal like this is a tall order. Stephen Harper never could escape the shadow of the Senate Scandal, and most Canadians could see the writing on the wall months before the 2015 election. The main difference between Harper’s senate debacle and Trudeau’s current dilemma is the weight of the credibility Trudeau spent the past 5 years trying to cultivate.
Once your actual identity has been compromised, voters feel like they finally can see the real you.
This online study was conducted by Campaign Research as part of its monthly omnibus study between March 7 to March 10 through an online survey of 1,893 randomly selected Canadian adults A probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.