Canadians weigh-in about Justin Trudeau being "in over his head"

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Within hours of winning the Liberal leadership last year, Justin Trudeau was bombarded with Conservative Party attacks.

The Tories’ explicit narrative back then, as it is now, was that Trudeau doesn’t have the know-how or experience to be prime minister. They want Canadians to believe that Trudeau “in over his head.”

Apparently, that message hasn’t resonated.

According to a new Abacus Data poll, only 24 per cent of Canadians feel that Trudeau is “in over his head” while 26 per cent believe he’s not. Others are unsure or at least willing to give the young leader some leeway. 

"These numbers are consistent with a pattern seen since Mr. Trudeau took over the leadership of his party – an inclination to give him some benefit of the doubt," notes the Abacus Data report.

"He’s made gaffes, and the Conservatives have advertised about them extensively, but the impact so far has been limited.

"The question for Conservative strategists is whether to persist in trying to make the ballot question Mr. Trudeau’s competency or abandon it in favour of something else. Thus far the evidence suggests it has not worked." 

[ Related: Tories seem to have trouble defining Justin Trudeau to voters ]

In the recent past, Tory strategists have had a lot of success defining their opponents with organized attacks. Of note, was the “just visiting” campaign targeted at former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff accusing him of coming back to Canada just to be prime minister. 

Trudeau’s “in over his head” narrative, however, seems to run deeper; it seems to have gotten personal.

An example of that is Conservative MP Michelle Rempel’s recent Facebook post where she suggests that Trudeau “spews a diatribe of non sequiturs and platitudes.”

"I ask you to imagine this man at the helm of our nation while serious international conflicts arise," Rempel wrote in response to a Sun News video of Trudeau answering a question about terrorists.

"How would he position our country? What would the consequences to our nation be? To the international community? To weigh these outcomes one first needs to have an informed position and be able to speak to it. Time and again he’s demonstrated his inability to do this."

[ Related: Federal Liberals float the idea of mandatory voting

Political communications consultant Gerry Nicholls says attacking Trudeau’s intellect, his abilities and his experience is a good strategy.

"It’s probably the only way to degrade the Trudeau brand,” he told Yahoo Canada News adding that the Abacus poll doesn’t really tell us if the Tory attacks are effective.

"My theory is these ads are designed to plant a seed in the minds of voters. A seed they hope will bloom during an election campaign, a time when people actually become focused and are paying attention.”

In other words, we can expect more of the ‘in over his head’ attacks.

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