Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government have turned down the volume on the WE controversy, but they still haven’t shifted the conversation towards an issue that helps them.
With parliament on vacation until the 22nd, less than half (44%) of Canadians have read, seen, or heard something this week about the federal government and the PM. Recall is up marginally (+3%) but still 15 points below the average monthly recall in 2020.
The impact of the news is directionally improved but still negative. Roughly 1-in-5 (22% this week, +1% this week) feel more favourable towards the PM after recalling something, while nearly half (44% unfavourable, -4% this week) feel less favourable.
The top mentioned issue is still the WE controversy: about a third (34%) of aware Canadians recall something, down from a high of 7-in-10 (70%) in August. Despite its high ranking among the attentive, though, most Canadians do not hear about the issue. Only 15% of all Canadians recall the controversy, steady week-to-week.
There is no change in the sharply negative reaction to the WE controversy this week, with 7-in-10 Canadians (68%) who feel less favourably towards the Liberals and the PM after recalling the issue and just 4% feel more favourably towards them.
Among aware Canadians, the government’s actions on COVID-19 still show a strongly positive response towards the PM (45% more favourable to 17% less favourable) and help ease the poor reaction to the WE controversy.
Much like last week’s coverage, we see government tactics in response to WE, such as the cabinet shuffle and prorogation of parliament, struggle to break through. On the surface, this helps the Liberal government, as those tactics in past weeks elicited a strongly negative reaction from aware Canadians.
Again, the Liberals replace one negative issue with another in the top three. Last week it was the controversy of Governor General Payette’s alleged harassment of employees, now barely mentioned (2%). This week the third top issue is government spending and debt, which prompts a 2-1 negative reaction among aware Canadians (27% more favourable, 51% less favourable.)
Next week provides a critical opportunity for Trudeau to hit the reset button. The Liberal government throne speech (7%) on September 23rd, with its new plan to revive the economy, provides a critical opportunity for the Liberals to break the cycle of negative coverage and finally move on from the WE controversy.
For detailed results, download INNOVATIVE’s full report here.