Canadians Don’t See an Economic Champion Yet in Looming Election

(Bloomberg) -- Five months from an election, Canadian voters remain undecided on who they think would best grow the economy -- the latest signal of a wide-open race.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer are neck-and-neck as the top choices to best manage the country’s growth. But fully half the country favors neither of them, Nanos Research found in a poll commissioned by Bloomberg.

Asked which leader they trusted to support economic growth, 26 percent of respondents picked Scheer and 25 percent chose Trudeau, a statistical tie. Another 20 percent of respondents said they don’t trust any. Four leaders of smaller parties received single-digit support. Another 14 percent of respondents said they didn’t know.

“There’s a fundamental lack of confidence in any of the political leaders to manage the economy,” pollster Nik Nanos said, adding the results are bad news for both Trudeau and Scheer. “Whoever wins this will have an advantage going into the election. Right now, neither has an advantage and it looks like Canadians aren’t happy with what they’re seeing.”

Canada’s election is scheduled for October. The wide lead Trudeau once enjoyed evaporated earlier this year amid a scandal involving SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., after his former Attorney General alleged he and his office pressured her to end a prosecution against the Montreal-based construction company.

As poor as the results for Scheer and Trudeau are, their competitors fared worse. New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has the third-most seats in the House of Commons, was the choice of just 4 percent of respondents, the same share as former conservative Maxime Bernier, who has launched his own party. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May received 7 percent.

Trudeau led Scheer in Atlantic Canada, British Columbia and Quebec, and was essentially tied in Ontario -- he was chosen there by 27.4 percent, to Scheer’s 26.6 percent, the poll found. Ontario and Quebec are Canada’s most populous regions and will largely determine who wins government.

Scheer had a wide lead in the energy-rich prairies, where he has tried to cast himself as a champion of the oil sector. He led Trudeau there 42 percent to 14 percent, the survey found. Nationally, Scheer was ahead of Trudeau by nine percentage points among men, while Trudeau led Scheer by seven percentage points among women.

“It should be a wake-up call that neither of them are doing a good job on connecting themselves to an economic agenda,” Nanos said. “The economy’s a key driver for votes.”

The poll is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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