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Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer, Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May.The Canadian Press

No federal leader has a clear advantage on the question of who would be best at leading an ethical government, according to a new poll conducted by Nanos Research for The Globe and Mail.

Twenty-three per cent of Canadians polled by Nanos Research said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would be the best at leading an ethical government, followed by Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer at 20 per cent. Seventeen per cent said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau would be best at this; 13 per cent said none of the leaders; 10 per cent said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh; and 3 per cent respectively said People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet. Twelve per cent said they were unsure.

“No one is the clear winner on ethics. ... It doesn’t matter who’s in power, no one has a big advantage on the ethics front and it speaks to the cynicism that people have about any politician being ethical," said Nik Nanos, the founder and chief data scientist of Nanos Research.

Nanos Research surveyed 1,000 Canadians between Aug. 29 and Sept. 4. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Respondents were also asked which federal party leader, if any, would be the best at helping the middle class and which leader would be the best at spending tax dollars wisely. They were asked which leader would be best at managing Canada’s relationship with the United States, and which leader would be best at improving Canada’s reputation in the world.

Mr. Nanos said the survey also shows that the federal election is a two-horse race between the Liberals and the Conservatives. “The NDP is realistically not in play and not a major factor,” he said.

“No one has a significant upper hand. People are unhappy with all the choices and there is a significant amount of volatility,” he said.

In June, a Nanos survey showed that ethics in government would be one of the biggest issues for voters in the election, after months of turmoil for the Liberals over the SNC-Lavalin controversy, which saw Mr. Trudeau put pressure on then-attorney-general Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering firm.

There was also significant attention paid to Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s case. The then-commander of the navy was charged with a single count of breach of trust after being accused of leaking secrets involving a shipbuilding contract. The Crown prosecutor abruptly stayed the charge in May, fuelling opposition accusations that the Liberal government interfered politically in the case.

Mr. Nanos said Mr. Trudeau will “get hammered on ethics and he is going to realistically have to take a hit.

“It is the sweet stuff for the opposition. It is not to talk about how he is managing the relations with Donald Trump or on the middle class; it is basically ethics," Mr. Nanos said.

Thirty-one per cent of respondents said Mr. Trudeau would be best at helping the middle class, followed by Mr. Scheer at 21 per cent and Mr. Singh at 13 per cent. Nine per cent said none of them, and 6 per cent said Ms. May. Four per cent said Mr. Bernier would be best at helping the middle class and 2 per cent said Mr. Blanchet. Fourteen per cent said they are unsure.

Meanwhile, 25 per cent said Mr. Scheer would be best at spending tax dollars wisely, followed by Mr. Trudeau at 21 per cent, with 17 per cent of respondents saying none of the leaders. Eight per cent said Ms. May and 7 per cent said Mr. Singh. Six per cent said Mr. Bernier would be best and 1 per cent said Mr. Blanchet. Fifteen per cent said they are unsure.

Mr. Nanos said the “winning hand” for Mr. Trudeau is on the question of who can best manage the relationship with the United States.

Forty per cent of respondents said Mr. Trudeau would be best at managing Canada’s relationship with the United States, while 25 per cent said Mr. Scheer would be best. Ten per cent of respondents said none, with 4 per cent saying Mr. Bernier would be best and 3 per cent each saying Ms. May and Mr. Singh. One per cent said Mr. Blanchet would be best, and 14 per cent said they are unsure.

“[Mr. Trudeau] has a pretty clear advantage on that, and he also has a strong advantage in terms of Canada’s reputation around the world,” Mr. Nanos said.

Forty-two per cent of respondents said Mr. Trudeau would be best at improving Canada’s reputation in the world, with 21 per cent saying Mr. Scheer would be best at this. Ten per cent said Ms. May would be best, with 9 per cent saying none of the leaders and 6 per cent saying Mr. Singh. Two per cent said Mr. Bernier would be best and 1 per cent said Mr. Blanchet. Eleven per cent said they are unsure. ​

Mr. Nanos said it is interesting that in many of the surveys, Canadians say they are unsure or that none of the federal leaders would be good at managing these issues.

“This speaks to the volatility,” he said.

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