OTTAWA — Should Prime Minister Justin Trudeau call an election this summer, the issue that will have the most influence in the minds of voters will be the economy, according to a new survey by Nanos Research.
More than 28 per cent of those surveyed said that the economy would be most important policy issue that will sway their vote in a potential election, outranking the environment and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey, commissioned by CTV News, indicated that the second-ranking issue on the voters’ minds was the environment, with 17 per cent of respondents putting it as their top concern.
As for other top-ranking issues: 16 per cent said the federal deficit will sway their vote and 13 per cent said health care would be their main motivating issue. The pandemic came in fifth in voters’ minds, with just 10 per cent of respondents indicating that the fight against COVID-19 still ranks atop their policy priorities.
Following behind these issues were reconciliation with Indigenous people, which seven per cent of respondents said was their top influencing file, and the desire for a new government, which was the top issue for two per cent of those surveyed.
“It looks like Canadians are starting to pivot away from the pandemic,” said Nanos Research’s Nik Nanos in an interview on CTV News Channel Wednesday. “And during the next election, they’re going to want to hear about the economy and jobs. They’re going to want to hear about the environment, about the deficit, about health care.”
Canadians who live in the Prairies felt the most strongly about the importance of the economy and political parties’ handling of finances, while those in British Columbia felt that the environment ranked supreme.
The influence of the pandemic was noted the most strongly in Ontario, while Atlantic Canadian respondents mentioned health care and reconciliation more often when the responses are broken down by region.
Over the course of the pandemic, Canadians experienced both a health and an economic crisis, with lockdowns and public health restrictions leading to business shutdowns and job losses.
While the economy largely appears to be rebounding as society continues to reopen with increasing vaccination rates, the country is in a deep deficit, brought on by the federal government’s deployment of mass-scale economic aid programs aimed at keeping Canadians and businesses afloat during the pandemic. These included the now-ended Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the ongoing wage and rent subsidies, which are in place until Sept. 25.
Throughout the COVID-19 fight, the opposition parties have been critical of the government’s economic measures, with the Conservatives raising concerns about the ballooning deficit, while the New Democrats pushed for the aid programs to be extended or expanded further.
Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland continue to defend their multi-billion dollar economic stimulus approach, with cabinet ministers out making numerous spending announcements touting aspects of the budget since it passed when Parliament adjourned for the summer.
TRUDEAU GEARING UP FOR VOTE?
In overall national polling, Nanos’s latest polling data shows the Liberals at 38.1 per cent, the Conservatives at 23.6 per cent, and the NDP at 20.4 per cent support.
Nanos said the Liberals are experiencing a “vaccination halo,” as a result of Canadians feeling a sense of relief as more and more are experiencing a two-dose summer, which he connects to the fewer number of those surveyed who listed the pandemic as a top worry.
In Ottawa, the speculation of an August or September election call is intensifying and Trudeau’s ongoing post-second dose travels across the country are fuelling anticipation, as he continues to dodge questions about whether Canadians should expect to go to the polls soon. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh are also starting to ramp-up their travel for announcements and events.
“If the prime minister is out there talking like he’s campaigning, and travelling like he’s campaigning, and now he and his ministers are spending like they’re campaigning, [it’s a] pretty good bet the lawn signs can’t be far off,” said strategic communications consultant and principal at Earnscliffe, Greg Weston in an interview with CTV News.
Weston added that while politicians trying to sway voters with their own money is a practice “as old as democracy itself,” the federal government has a case to make about going to the polls if it’s a question of who should have the mandate to govern the country through the post-pandemic recovery.
Should the much-speculated campaign kick off, this survey indicates that voters’ minds may be more attuned to what’s ahead and the economic rebuilding that’ll be needed, as well as the looming climate emergency, rather than looking back on how the Liberals handled the pandemic or how parties propose to better prepare for the next one.
“Canadians want to hear about what’s going to happen in the future…. it provides an opportunity for the Conservatives and the New Democrats to start talking about other issues like the economy and jobs,” Nanos said.
Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land-and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,051 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between June 30th and July 5th, 2021 as part of an omnibus survey.
Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land-and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.
Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs.
The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.