Justin Trudeau's Liberals arrive in Montreal this week with a positive wind in their sails as a new poll shows the party has jumped to an eight-point lead over the governing Conservatives.
The latest survey from Ipsos-Reid-CTV shows support for the federal Liberals stands at 37 per cent of decided voters – a gain of 4 per cent from early February and slightly higher than where the party stood in November. Support for the Conservatives is unchanged at 29 per cent while the NDP has slipped three points to 24 per cent.
Members of the federal Liberal Party are gathering in Montreal Thursday for a four-day policy convention.
The online survey of 1,034 Canadians was conducted between Feb. 14 and Feb. 18 for CTV News and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The polling firm also asked Canadians for their response to the Feb. 11 federal budget and found 71 per cent agreed with the statement that it was "neither good nor bad." Two in 10 respondents said the budget is bad and worthy of two thumbs down, while only one in 10 believe the budget is good and that they would give it two thumbs up.
Those responses to the budget are unlikely to cause much concern for the government. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty orchestrated a low-key budget this year, delivering it during the Winter Olympics. The budget was essentially a "bridge" document that finishes the government's push to balance the books and sets the stage for a pre-election budget in 2015 that will contain new spending and tax cuts.
"This is the lowest rated budget for the Tories over other years where this question was asked of Canadians, but also the one that garnered the least amount of reaction – positive or negative," states an Ipsos-Reid report on the survey.
Diving more deeply into the response to the budget, it appears public sentiment leans toward concern that Ottawa is overly focused on cutting costs.
Four in 10 said the budget "focused too much on deficit reduction," compared with 25 per cent who thought the budget "focused too much on spending." One in three (34 per cent) said the budget "struck the right balance."
A large majority – 76 per cent – of respondents said the budget has neither a positive nor negative impact on them personally. The release of the budget does not appear to have affected the government's economic approval ratings, with 47 per cent saying they either strongly or somewhat approved of the government's management of the economy while 53 per cent either strongly or somewhat disapprove. Those results were essentially unchanged from before the budget.