Canadians Mixed on Trudeau’s Trek Across Canada

Despite Most (92%) Believing it’s Important for PM to Talk to Canadians and Hear Concerns, Half Say it was a Waste of Money (52%), Meant to Distract from Bad News (51%)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Toronto, ON — With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s whistle-stop cross-country tour now over, the public verdict on the “town hall” style exercise appears mixed. A new Ipsos poll for Global News finds that Canadians are split on whether or not the tour was simply a “waste of taxpayer money”, as half (52%) agree (23% strongly/28% somewhat) that it was, while other half (48%) disagree (14% strongly/35% somewhat).

A majority (54%) of Baby Boomers aged 55+ and 54% of Gen X’ers aged 35-54 think the tour was a waste of money, compared to 45% of Millennials aged 18-34. Regionally, Albertans (59%) are most likely to say the tour was a waste of money, followed by those living in Ontario (54%), British Columbia (53%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (49%), Quebec (47%) and Atlantic Canada (43%).

There is also a clear divide on whether Canadians believe that the tour was undertaken as “a means of distracting Canadians from bad press”. Half (51%) agree (21% strongly/30% somewhat) that the tour was meant to be a distraction, while 49% disagree (13% strongly/35% somewhat). Six in ten (58%) Gen X’ers and 51% of Boomers think it was a means of distracting from bad press, but just 42% of Millennials agree. Regionally, once again Albertans (62%) are most likely to agree, followed by those living in BC (53%), Ontario (52%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (50%), Quebec (48%) and Atlantic Canada (41%).

In an effort to determine whether the tour was in fact a distraction, Ipsos asked Canadians to identify, on an open-ended basis at the start of the survey, what they would say has been the biggest news story involving the Prime Minister during the last month. The most recalled news story was still the Bahamas vacation (14%), followed closely by news relating to the town hall meetings (12%). Other prominent news stories recalled by Canadians include support for welcoming refugees/immigrants from the United States (10%), Trudeau’s dealings or reaction to Donald Trump (8%), oil sands/pipeline announcements (8%), or his reaction to the mosque shooting in Quebec and support of its victims (5%). All other stories were mentioned by 2% or less of Canadians.

Thinking about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, what would you say has been the biggest news story involving the Prime Minister in the past month?
Bahamas vacation 14%
Town hall meetings 12%
Support for (welcoming) refugees/immigrants (from U.S.) 10%
Oil sands/pipelines 8%
Donald Trump 8%
Reaction to/supporting victims of Quebec City mosque shootings 5%
Ethical scandal/unethical behaviour/conflicts of interest 2%
Wasting/inappropriate spending of (tax) money 2%
Attending ‘cash-for-access’ fundraisers 2%
Legalizing marijuana 2%
Selfies/Tweets/media interactions 2%
National unity/support for all Canadians 2%
Other 4%
Nothing 4%
Don’t know 21%

Canadians (92%) Say It’s Important for the PM to Talk to Canadians

Most Canadians (92%) agree (51% strongly/40% somewhat) it’s important for the Prime Minister to talk to Canadians and hear their concerns. Further, a majority (69%) feel that hearing the issues that matter directly from Canadians will make a positive difference, both in terms of how the country is governed (21% strongly/47% somewhat) and in their own communities (20% strongly/49% somewhat).

But the survey has found that that Trudeau’s tour didn’t seem to capture the attention of most Canadians. A majority (55%) were either aware of it but didn’t pay any attention (34%) or hadn’t heard about it at all (22%), compared to four in ten (45%) who say they did actually follow the tour (6% closely/38% only occasionally).

The Prime Minister’s tour was followed more by men (48%) than by women (41%), and by Canadians aged 55 and over (54%) compared to those 35-54 (43%) or 18-34 (35%). Overall, residents of English Canada are much likelier than those in Quebec to have followed the tour: nearly six in ten (57%) of Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents did so, along with more than half of Albertans (54%) and Atlantic Canadians (54%), half of Ontarians (49%) and four in ten (43%) residents of BC. In Quebec, fewer than three in ten residents (28%) said they paid any attention to the Trudeau tour.

Mixed Verdict

Among Canadians who knew about tour prior to taking the survey, their overall impression about the tour was slightly more positive (34%; 9% very/25% somewhat) than negative (28%; 13% very/15% somewhat) on balance, but the most prevailing view is one of indifference. Nearly four in ten Canadians (38%) say their overall impression of the Trudeau tour was neither positive nor negative. Among those who followed the tour more closely, 44% say their impression of the tour has been positive compared to 31% who say it was negative. Among those who knew about it but didn’t follow it, just 21% had a positive impression compared to 24% whose impression was negative.

Across the country, the most positive views of the tour are seen in Atlantic Canada (46%), while the most negative views are in Alberta (46%), where skepticism about Trudeau remains consistently higher than the rest of the country. Millennials may have been less likely to have followed the tour, but those who did seemed to like what they saw. Half (49%) of Millennials say they have a positive view of Trudeau’s tour; well ahead of their Gen X (32%) and Boomer (28%) counterparts.

With regards to the Prime Minister himself, four in ten Canadians (38%) say their opinion of Justin Trudeau has improved as a result of the tour (8% strongly/30% somewhat), leaving six in ten (62%) who disagree (24% strongly/38% somewhat) that their impression of the PM has improved. However, Canadians who followed the tour are more likely to say it moved them to have a more favourable opinion of the Prime Minister (45%), compared to those who didn’t tune in (32%).

Millennials (46%) – who are most likely to have a positive view of the tour and least likely to think it’s a waste of money or a distraction – are, unsurprisingly, also the most likely to say their opinion of Trudeau has improved, compared to one in three Gen X’ers (35%) and Boomers (33%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 30 and February 1, 2017, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians from Ipsos' online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002

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Canadians Mixed on Trudeau’s Trek Across Canada


Sean Simpson
Vice President, Canada
Ipsos Public Affairs