Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Federal Liberal support is holding, but Trudeau’s face painting issue appears to be having a minimal impact on voter intentions.

Vancouver, BC – Canadians are going to the polls on Monday, October 21, 2019 for the 43rd federal election and as far as British Columbia is concerned, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party is not faring well on performance on specific issues or in overall voter intentions. Insights West conducted two polls in the past two weeks and the results show that the Conservative Party of Canada leads the election race in British Columbia. Justin Trudeau’s face painting scandal doesn’t appear to have swayed actual voter intentions despite the perceived seriousness of the issue.

The two polls – the first conducted from September 6 to 10, 2019 with 869 BC residents and the second from September 19 to 23, 2019 with 867 BC residents – shows that support for the federal Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau has fallen significantly since the 2015 Federal Election when the party nabbed 35.2% of the vote and 17 seats in British Columbia. When asked about their voting intentions if the election were held today, only 17% would vote Liberal in the first poll and 19% in the second.

The Conservative Party of Canada, led by Andrew Scheer, is leading in British Columbia with 29% of voter support in both surveys. The NDP under Jagmeet Singh also held steady in both polls with 14% voter support in BC, while the Greens under Elizabeth May is also identical with 13% in the first poll and 14% in the second. The number of undecided voters in British Columbia is smaller than in previous election campaigns – only 16% in the first poll and 15% in the second – but it is a number that could still have a decisive impact on next month’s final result as voter intentions firm up.

Across the province, various voter groups are showing varying levels of support for the federal political parties. The federal Conservatives in BC perform best with men (35%), voters older than 55 years of age (38%), and BC voters outside of Metro Vancouver such as Vancouver Island (27%) and other parts of BC (46%). The federal Liberals do their best with women voters (21%), voters aged 35 to 54 (24%), and voters in Metro Vancouver (21%). The Green Party picks up its strongest support from residents of Vancouver Island (26%), sharing that with the federal NDP (18% support of voters on the Island). The NDP also earns some of its strongest support from younger voters – 19% of those aged 18 to 34 intend to vote orange.

About Justin Trudeau’s Face

The recent revelations of photos of Liberal leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appearing painted up in “brownface” at a 2001 party in Vancouver and the subsequent backlash have been making news headlines around the world, prompting an apology from the Prime Minister.

The general public in British Columbia has been following this story rather intensely – the vast majority of people from all political stripes (79%) have been following the story closely, including 38% who have been following it very closely.

Public reaction to the matter in BC is markedly mixed – 48% do not see it as a serious issue (19% not at all serious and 29% not very serious) but 52% do see it as something serious (26% as somewhat serious, 26% as very serious).

As perhaps expected, Conservative (73%) and NDP (62%) voters are far more likely to say that it is a serious issue, but conversely, only 24% of Liberal voters say it’s a serious issue. Also of note: only 3% of Liberal voters think it is a “very serious” issue – a number that pales in comparison to Conservative (50%) and NDP voters (27%). Clearly the issue has served to solidify voter intentions rather than sway actual votes.

British Columbians are also split on their views of Trudeau’s handling of the scandal – 39% say he’s done a poor job of it, while 43% say he’s done a good job. It may come as no surprise that the vast majority of Liberal voters (87%) say he’s done a good job in handling this issue, whereas the opposite is the case with Conservative voters where 71% say he’s done a poor job. NDP voters are divided as to whether he’s handled it poorly (32%) or well (51%).

Leadership Approval (and Disapproval)

When asked to rate their approval and/or disapproval for the major party leaders, British Columbians are most disenchanted with the Liberal’s Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer of the Conservatives. Trudeau has a low 34% approval rate and a very high 61% disapproval rate among BCers. Scheer isn’t far behind with 35% approving and 54% disapproving. The Green Party’s Elizabeth May scores a 51% approval rate, but overall, British Columbians are not exactly showing a lot of thrills and excitement for the leadership choices in 2019.

Top Issues and Liberal Government Performance Ratings

The second Insights West study in the series asked British Columbians to rate the top issues facing the nation today.

When thinking of Canada as a whole, the September 19-23 poll showed that BC residents rate the environment and climate change as the top issue (23%), followed by personal income, wages, and the cost of living (12%), and housing prices and affordability (11%). The national economy (9%) and the federal budget (8%) round out the top answers.

It’s surprising to examine the divide among political affiliations when it comes to top issues. Only 2% of Conservative voters label climate change as a top issue compared to 33% of Liberal voters and 36% of NDP voters. Housing prices receive twice the number of mentions among NDP (17%) and Liberal (15%) voters relative to Conservatives (6%). The economy (18%) and the federal deficit (18%) lead the agenda among Conservative voters.

On the day-to-day running of the federal government, the federal Liberals score their highest approval ratings from the BC public on their handling of the national jobs and unemployment situation (47%), immigration (45%), the economy (42%), transportation and infrastructure (41%), healthcare (38%), and education (37%).

At the same time, the Trudeau government performed the worst among BCers for demonstrating transparency and honesty in government – 78% disapprove of their performance. Other matters that scored high public disapproval in BC included: housing affordability and pricing (72%), energy and pipelines (72%), homelessness (65%), the opioid crisis (61%), poverty (60%), and the Liberals’ handling of federal spending and deficits (60%).

BCers also rated Justin Trudeau’s Liberals on recent decisions and their handling of specific issues, showing a lot of lows with only one “high” point of any significance:

•    managing immigration levels to Canada – 45% good job vs. 46% bad job
•    the SNC Lavalin affair – 9% good vs. 80% bad
•    dealing with money laundering – 18% good vs. 61% bad
•    handling increases in gasoline prices – 15% good vs. 70% bad
•    handling relations with Canada’s First Nations – 36% good vs. 50% bad
•    managing Canada’s crown corporations – 38% good vs. 31% bad
•    the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline – 18% vs. 74% bad
•    implementation of the legal sale of marijuana – 47% good vs. 44% bad

“The Federal election in BC is shaping up rather poorly for the reigning Liberal government,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Government handling of transparency, deficits, housing affordability, pipelines, and poverty and homelessness have hurt the current Liberal government and the handling of the recent face painting scandal means the Liberals have a rough ride ahead in this election campaign. Voter preferences are always known to change over the course of a campaign, but at this point things are not looking good for the Liberals in BC.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on two online studies conducted from September 6 to 10, 2019 among a representative sample of 869 adult residents of British Columbia and from September 19 to 23, 2019 among a representative sample of 867 adult residents of British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—in the first study is +/- 3.4 percentage points and +/- 3.3 percentage points in the second, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
Insights West