The Trudeau government’s gamble with proroguing Parliament may be paying off.
Without parliament or its committees in session, Canadians are paying less attention to politics. Recall of the federal government has dropped 12 points this week, with less than half (47%) who have read, seen, or heard something about the Prime Minister and the federal government.
The impact of what Canadians are hearing is less negative this week. The share of those who respond “more favourable to the PM” has increased from 15% to 22%, while the portion who feel less favourable is down from 55% to 46%.
It is not that Canadians feel better about the WE controversy or the prorogation itself. Two out of every three Canadians who recall the WE controversy feel less favourably towards the Liberal government afterward, with just 4% who feel more favourably. The progrogation of parliament has a strongly negative impact this week (3% more favourable, 72% less favourable). The Finance Minister shuffle is also sharply down this week, although it has a strong negative impact (14% more favourable, 42% less favourable) among those who recall it.
What is happening is that although the WE controversy remains the top recalled item about the government, the issue has a much smaller portion of Canadian attention than in recent weeks. Early August showed, among those who have heard something about the federal government, 7-in-10 (70%) mentions about the WE controversy. Now, just 1-in-3 (33%) of those who have heard something cite WE as the top issue.
Canadians are hearing about other issues such as government spending and debt (24%), COVID-19 generally (22%), and the return to school (20%).
Topics other than WE or the tactics of prorogation and the shuffle are less negative for the PM. Canadians have only a slightly negative impression on government spending and debt (30% more favourable, 38% less favourable). They are slightly positive regarding COVID-19 (30% to 25%), and a strongly positive on school reopenings (41% to 14%) and additional funding for safer classrooms (44% to 15%).
It appears that the government’s improved impression results not from its response to the WE controversy, but by shifting attention to COVID and its effort to respond to the pandemic.
For detailed results, download INNOVATIVE’s full report here.