The shifting nature of the prime minister's comments on Jody Wilson-Raybould and SNC-Lavalin show he knows the government's messaging has gotten out of hand, says one member of former prime minister Paul Martin's inner circle.
Campaign Research's poll was conducted while the fallout from The Globe and Mail's report on SNC-Lavalin and the Prime Minister's Office was unfolding. CEO Eli Yufest says it was a 'pure coincidence.'
The Hill Times file photographs by Andrew Meade
After several months of running neck and neck in the polls, the federal Conservatives appear to have a five-point lead on the Liberals, according to a recent poll.
The Conservatives appear to be chipping away at the Liberals’ chances of securing another majority in October, with Andrew Scheer’s party leading with 37 per cent in overall support among those surveyed, compared to the Grits at 32 per cent, a Campaign Research poll suggests. New Democrats, meanwhile, are still trailing considerably behind the other two parties at 14 per cent.
If the trend suggested continues, more of seat-rich Ontario could be within the Conservatives’ reach, while the races in Quebec and B.C. could still play to the Liberals’ favour, depending on how the NDP fares on the West Coast. The Tories lead by seven points in Ontario, with 40 per cent of respondents in favour of the party, compared to the Liberals, which garnered 33 per cent in support.
“If I was a Conservative strategist, and I was looking at these numbers, I would attempt to chip away at that Toronto number a little bit, by taking the suburban seats in Toronto, North Toronto, Etobicoke, basically where Doug Ford won his 11 seats,” said Eli Yufest, CEO of Campaign Research, in a phone interview.
Toronto’s urban core, traditionally a Liberal stronghold, where they have 45 per cent of respondents’ support, is still firmly in the Liberals’ corner. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are at 29 per cent in support, while the NDP is at 16 per cent.
In the Prairies and Alberta, in particular, the Conservatives captured two-thirds, or 65 per cent of the decide vote, the poll suggested.
Campaign Research’s latest polling numbers are based on a survey of 1,590 Canadians conducted Feb. 7 to 11, as The Globe and Mail‘s bombshell report, in which it alleged that Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to bend under pressure to spare SNC-Lavalin a conviction, was unfolding. It was a “pure coincidence” that the poll was conducted as the story broke, according to Mr. Yufest.
Online polls are not considered to be truly random, but a random poll of the same sample size would have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results were weighted by factors such as education, age, gender, and region to match the Canadian population.
For comparison, the latest Nanos Research national poll shows the Conservatives trailing the Liberals by three percentage points, with 34.4 per cent support to the Grits’ 37.5 per cent. The Nanos poll includes data from the four weeks leading up to Feb. 8, and was conducted over the phone, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Mr. Yufest said the Liberals’ slump in his poll could be attributed to the SNC-Lavalin affair, but it’s too early to suggest that it could have a lasting impact on the party’s favourability.
At the same time, Canadians may be warming up to the idea of having Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) as prime minister over Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.). In terms of favourability, both are in negative territory in their net approval rating, with Mr. Trudeau dipping from negative nine per cent in December to negative 18 per cent, according to the recent poll, while Mr. Scheer’s net approval rating dropped to negative four per cent from negative one percent.
“The risk for the Liberals is, if SNC-Lavalin issue becomes a bigger issue, it could erode some of their strength, and if that happens, there will be devastating consequences for the Liberal government,” Mr. Yufest said.
In British Columbia, where byelection fever is at its peak with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh vying for a seat in the House, the poll suggests it’s shaping up to be a three-way race between the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats—one that could, once again, split the left-leaning vote to benefit the Conservatives.
The poll puts the Conservatives and Liberals in a tie at 28 per cent, while the NDP is five points behind at 23 per cent.
“It’s almost like what happened under the Harper years. The NDP took a lot of support in Quebec, which is traditionally quite Liberal, and the Conservatives were able to get their majority,” Mr. Yufest said. “That sort of scenario is a possibility out in British Columbia.”
In Quebec, where the Bloc Québécois has been quietly improving its ground game with a new leader at the helm, the party gained four points—it’s now at 19 per cent— from where it was in Campaign Research’s December poll. The Liberals still have a lead at 40 per cent, while Conservatives are at 24 per cent and the NDP is at 24 per cent.
The Hill Times