More than halfway through the federal campaign, a new poll suggests that three out of four Canadians do not think the coming election is necessary.
The poll, which was conducted by Nanos Research and sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, asked respondents: “Would you say that the current federal election is necessary, somewhat necessary, somewhat not necessary, or not necessary?”
A majority of respondents, 56 per cent, answered that the election is not necessary, and another 20 per cent said it was somewhat not necessary.
Only 11 per cent said it was necessary, and 12 per cent answered that it was somewhat necessary. One per cent of respondents said they were unsure.
There was no substantial difference in responses between women and men, though those over 55 were slightly more likely to say the election was unnecessary than younger Canadians.
The most significant gap was regional: A high number of those in the Prairies, 60 per cent, said the election was not necessary, while only 38 per cent of those in Atlantic Canada said that was the case.
When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau triggered the Sept. 20 election last month, his government was less than two years into its minority mandate. Opposition leaders have criticized Mr. Trudeau for calling the election during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have accused him of doing so opportunistically, because, they say, he thought the vote would secure him a majority government.
Mr. Trudeau has said the election is about giving Canadians a say in how the country is governed during a period of rapid change, particularly in the next stage of the pandemic response.
Nik Nanos, the chief data scientist at Nanos Research, said he was surprised to see so many Canadians saying the election is unnecessary this far into the campaign.
“Usually this is not something that lasts for a long period of time for a normal election,” he said.
Even if voters don’t like the idea of an election at the start, he said, they usually resign themselves to it after about a week. He added that he thinks the pandemic is making a difference this time around.
“Because of the pandemic, it’s created a certain level of resentment, at least among a significant proportion of the electorate,” he said.
“I think this is going to dog Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, probably to the very end of the election.”
Opposition leaders have made remarks seemingly intended to ensure that this happens.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole frequently reminds voters that the country is still dealing with a pandemic. “We’re in an election in a crisis,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “Not because of the well-being of Canadians, because the Liberal Party wants a majority.”
And on Thursday, while taking questions about the situation in Afghanistan, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused Mr. Trudeau of calling an election instead of focusing on helping people.
The poll also asked about Canadians’ trust in the parties. Respondents were asked: “Based on what you have heard during the federal election, which party do you trust most on the following issues?”
The respondents expressed more trust in the Conservatives to prepare for a postpandemic economic recovery than other parties, and the NDP scored significantly higher than other parties on affordable housing.
The Liberals came out on top, though not substantially, when respondents were asked which party they trusted to maintain a strong health care system, and the party was also the most trusted to have a strong plan for the environment.
The poll consisted of a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,029 Canadians. The results were gathered between Aug. 28 and 30. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Globe and Mail, September 3, 2021