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Weak showing in new poll has some Liberals wondering if Trudeau has lost his lustre


Weak showing in new poll has some Liberals wondering if Trudeau has lost his lustre

The Liberal sense of manifest destiny has taken a hit with a new poll that suggests the party has less than 30% support — a drop of nearly 10 points in six months.

Since Justin Trudeau became Liberal leader, there has been an unflinching belief among party supporters that the mission to redeem Canada and remake the country would, inevitably, have a happy ending.

But the question some Liberals are asking now is: Has Justin lost his lustre?

The EKOS poll — which puts the Liberals at 28.5%, compared to 31.8% for the Conservatives and 23.2% for the NDP — may be an outlier. An Abacus poll that came out the same day has the Tories and Grits neck and neck, as does the party’s internal polling.

But the trend in all public surveys is the same — a gradual down-tick in support since the terror attacks in Ottawa and Quebec last October.

The EKOS commentary suggested a “lack of clarity as to what the party plans to do for the country and its citizens” may be behind the Liberal slippage. Mr. Trudeau is keeping his detailed policy proposals under wraps until closer to the election — but it means he is left trying to sell concepts, not tax cuts.

Polls suggest two thirds of Liberal voters support the mission in the Middle East — a position at odds with that of the caucus

Jean Chrétien once criticized the “nervous Nellies” in his own caucus who doubted his leadership. There are more than a few nervous Nellies in the Liberal Party now, who are wondering whether the message needs to be tweaked, or whether a freshening up on the staffing front is required.

Confusion about the Liberal message is understandable. Mr. Trudeau used a major speech earlier this month to highlight his beliefs on liberty and inclusion. The Liberals are the party of the Charter — a guarantee of liberty that must be promoted by political leadership, he said. Then he voted for bill C-51, widely criticized as an infringement on individual liberties and Charter rights.

At the same time, polls suggest two thirds of Liberal voters support the mission in the Middle East — a position at odds with that of the caucus, which voted against extending the bombing campaign to Syria Monday.

The growing sense of unrest among some Liberals has crystallized around the decision to embrace former Conservative MP Eve Adams as part of the Liberal caucus. “Justin talks about ‘doing politics differently’ but what we have is the same old hypocrisy. Every nomination is being managed and it’s brewing negativity,” said one Liberal. “The Eve and Dimitri [Soudas] thing reinforced a lot of grumbling on the ground

Not that the EKOS poll was good news for the Conservatives. Both it and the Abacus poll suggested a softening in support for the direction in which Stephen Harper is taking the country. Negative impressions of the Prime Minister are on the rise — a trend that is likely to accelerate as bad economic news piles up.

Mr. Harper was at Honda’s plant in Alliston, Ont., Monday, where he revealed that the company will start manufacturing its CR-V model for the European Union market — a decision made possible by the Canada-EU trade deal. Mr. Harper is going to need many more such days in the run-up to the election, if he is going to sail through the current economic doldrums.

The only consolation for the Conservatives was the improved performance of the NDP, likely for precisely the opposite reason the Liberals have toiled. Tom Mulcair has rolled out his key platform planks and marked out clear positions opposing C-51 and the mission in the Middle East. Mr. Mulcair is being rewarded for exhibiting that most rare of osseous tissue – political backbone. Even some die-hard Liberals concede that Mr. Mulcair is a more convincing purveyor of principled politics than Mr. Trudeau.

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