Nearly half of Canadians say their impressions of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have worsened over his handling of the trucker convoy protests, according to a new poll.
The Nanos Research survey found that just 20 per cent of Canadians said their impressions of Mr. Trudeau improved over his government’s response to the demonstrations, while 31 per cent said it had no impact and 2 per cent said they were unsure.
The poll, commissioned by The Globe and Mail, also revealed a gender divide in the opinions of the Prime Minister, with 51 per cent of men saying their impressions of Mr. Trudeau worsened, compared to 42 per cent of women.
“What’s clear from the survey is that even though Canadians generally support what the Prime Minister has done, his personal brand has taken a hit as result of truckers’ convoy protest,” said pollster Nik Nanos in an interview. “There’s no political windfall for Justin Trudeau coming out of ... implementing the Emergencies Act.”
The survey comes a week after one of the largest law-enforcement operations in Canadian history ended a protest that occupied downtown Ottawa for three weeks. The protests began last month when the convoy opposing vaccine mandates descended on the capital, and they quickly evolved into a broader demonstration against COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal government.
Protests soon expanded beyond Ottawa, with demonstrators taking to the streets in other major cities and at Canada-U.S. border crossings, requiring police intervention.
The protests prompted the federal government to invoke the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history, giving it the power to establish new crimes and punishments without a vote in Parliament. The special powers created a new offence of participating in a public assembly that may lead to a breach of the peace, forced tow-truck operators into removing big rigs from the downtown core and required financial institutions to freeze the bank accounts of protest organizers and their financial backers.
Parliament passed the act Monday, after the protesters were largely cleared from downtown Ottawa. The Liberals and NDP supported it, while the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois voted against the act, saying it was government overreach. Mr. Trudeau revoked the use of the act Wednesday, saying the government was confident the existing laws would be sufficient to keep people safe.
The Nanos survey found that 63 per cent of Canadians support or somewhat support the Liberal government’s use of the act to deal with the convoy protests, while 36 per cent opposed or somewhat opposed the action, and 1 per cent were unsure.
As for the Conservatives, 64 per cent of Canadians opposed or somewhat opposed the party’s decision to vote against the act, 35 per cent supported or somewhat supported the Tory position, and 2 per cent were unsure.
Respondents from the Prairie provinces - Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta - were most likely to support the Conservatives’ position, at nearly 41 per cent, while support was lowest in Quebec, at 16 per cent.
The poll specifically asked respondents whether they support the freezing of bank accounts under the act. Nearly two-thirds said they supported or somewhat supported the special power, one-third opposed or somewhat opposed it and 1 per cent said they were unsure.
Mr. Nanos said the poll results show the Liberals and Conservatives are both struggling to capture the support of the majority of Canadians in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the one thing that Canadians share is their disappointment and frustration at both the Liberals and the Conservatives over the pandemic, over the responses to the pandemic and how things have become highly charged, partisan and politicized,” said Mr. Nanos.
The Nanos Research random survey, conducted on Feb. 23 and 24, surveyed 1,032 Canadians by phone and online. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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