A majority of Canadians feel Tofino is a sign of deeper problems with Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government. This feeling is nine-points higher than it was for WE Charity and twenty-points greater than Trudeau’s blackface scandal. This is the finding of a new INNOVATIVE online poll of 1,000 Canadians conducted from October 8th to 20th , 2021. The full methodology is provided in the appendix.
Just over a half (56%) say they are following the Tofino controversy at least somewhat closely.
Almost six-in-ten (59%) say they are ay least somewhat angry about the issue. Among those watching the issue very closely, over six-in-ten (63%) say they are very angry.
Issue managers live by is the rule: “it’s not the break-in, it’s the cover-up”. Meaning that for most controversy, the response to the initial mistake matters as much if not more than the incident itself.
The public is not impressed by how the Trudeau government responded to the Tofino trip. Close to half (45%) disapprove of the government’s management of the issue while just 17% approve of the government’s response. Dissatisfaction is far higher and more intense among those following the issue very close with 60% strong disapproval.
The big problem for the Liberals is that over half (56%) see this issue as a sign of deeper problems. Only 17% have no problem with the trip while 18% see it as a one-time error. Most troubling to the Liberals is that 23% of their partisans and 48% of the non-aligned voters see this as a sign of deeper issues.
This is the first time that INNOVATIVE’s tracking has shown a majority of Canadians perceiving a Liberal controversy as a sign of deeper problems. Just under half (47%) saw the WE controversy as a sign of deeper problems while only 36% viewed the blackface issue as a sign of deeper problems.
This is confirmed by the tracking on perceived vote impact. On Tofino, 44% say they are less likely to vote Liberal. That compares to 40% for WE and 28% for the blackface issue.
Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are taking a significant hit from the Tofino trip. Most worrisome to the government is the impact among Liberal partisans and unaligned voters. The government also should be concerned that there is an increasing amount of voters who see the government’s controversies as a sign of deeper problems. While the Liberals have roughly the same number of seats now than before the election, their underlying brand looks weaker.